Why you just MUST have a worm farm Part 2

Here you can see the multiple tray system of my worm farm.

worm-farm web-1

Now I’m not allergic to dirt, but if feeding your worms becomes a messy ordeal then I reckon you pretty much won’t keep it up.  For this reason, my worm farm is located right near my front door.  It’s also an area that gets almost full shade in summer, helped along by the evergreen passionfruit climber which blocks the afternoon sun.  This means I have only two steps to get to my worm farm and it’s under cover so even on a cold and wet night I can make the pilgrimage in socks if necessary!

Just under the front of the worm farm is the drainage bucket to collect the FANTASTIC worm juice.  This model originally came with a tap, but I’ve removed it so the farm can drain free all the time and there’s no chance of the worms drowning.  The only downside is if you forget to empty the bucket regularly, you may find it overflowing.  This has never been a problem for me as the concrete slopes towards my passionfruit vine…in fact it may explain why I’ve had a bumper crop this year!

Okay now it’s time to look inside…

wormfarm 1st-tray-hessian-web

You can see I’ve used a hessian bag to cover the food scraps and to keep the moisture in.  Eventually the worms will eat through the hessian and it will be time to replace it – I picked this bag up from a local coffee roaster.  You could also use a thick slab of newspaper or one of the purpose built worm farm covers.  Feeding your worm farm can be a messy business so a feature I’ve really come to like is the self holding lid on this model.  It means you only have to lift the hessian and put the scraps under and can all be done with one hand.

Lifting the hessian you’ll see the scraps recently put down.  This is a fair amount, but after 12 months my worms will make light work of this in a few days.  Start with small amounts of scraps and if they’re still visible largely untouched in a week, you’re adding too much.

worm-farm 1st-tray-hessian-back-web

So now I’ve removed the top tray and you can really start to see the chocolate pudding-like worm castings.  There’s still a few worms in the top part of this tray as you can see.

wormfarm 2nd-tray-web

The 3rd tray reveals 10-15kg of prime soil conditioner made up entirely of kitchen scraps that would otherwise be rotting in our municipal tip.

wormfarm 3rd-tray-web

This one will be emptied shortly with the castings used for planting with my winter veggies (cabbage, broccoli and cauliflowers).  After that this tray will become the top feeding tray and on it goes!

In the very bottom of this worm farm is the base which collects and directs the worm juice to the outlet.  Note the raised section which allows the worms a dry place to rest if the more adventurous of the bunch find themselves down here…

wormfarm bottom-tray-web

Apart from feeding your worms, you need to make sure they remain moist at all times – especially during hot weather.  I use a normal watering can over the hessian – usually a litre of two of water a week.

wormfarm watering-web

This will start to fill your worm juice bucket.  Obviously the more water you put through the farm, the more diluted the juice will be.  Here I’ve used a litre of concentrated worm juice diluted with 8 litres of water to liquid feed fast growing asian greens and lettuce in my vertical wall garden.

worm-juice-watering-wall-garden-web

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Backyard Harvest uses locally sourced sustainable materials to help make gardening as efficient as possible and we’re big fans of raised garden beds.   We figure, the less time you spend bending your back, the more time you’ll spend enjoying your harvest. 

 

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Welcome. May your backyard be a productive one,

Andrew Lucas.

Why you just MUST have a worm farm – Part 1

Worm castings or worm poo is pretty much the best soil conditioner you can get.  When added to soil before planting seedlings, or when included as you’re potting up a plant, you can be sure you’re adding a ph neutral chocolate-like substance that contains all sorts of goodies for your plants.  Perhaps of even more use is the worm ‘juice’ that results from the moist environment worms love to be in.  As plants can only take in nutrients in liquid form, this worm juice gives almost immediate results.

 

No photoshop tricks in this photo, those geraniums are really that red and the only fertiliser used on them since being planted a few years ago is worm juice!

So now you know how good worms can be for our garden, how do you best wrangle the little wrigglers?  Enter the worm farm…

Types of worm farms

In Australia we’re lucky to have a number of local manufacturers that produce quality worm farms that are designed for our conditions.  By ‘our conditions’ I mean they’re made from plastics that can stand our high levels of UV sunlight which we have an abundance of down under.  Some manufacturers also use recycled and/or recyclable plastics which is great to see.  Most worm farms have some form of ‘stack-ability’ which allows the worms to eventually leave their castings (or poo) and move onto areas in the farm where more food is available.  The main thing to keep in mind when looking at a worm farm is drainage and the capacity to easily access the precious castings.  Weight is also a consideration as these things get seriously heavy once filled with moist castings.  The model I’m currently using has a number of stackable trays, a drainage plug and a couple of other interesting features which I’ll cover in more detail.

In Part 2 I’ll demonstrate a flourishing worm farm in action and show you how your worm farm can become a non-stop fertiliser factory!