People are never asking me what I do to compost kitchen waste. We have always toyed with the idea of getting chickens, one of the great kitchen waste consumers, but, have yet to take the plunge. Hopefully this spring will be the time, and we can finally be self respecting gardeners.

So, what do we do with the kitchen scraps? We keep a 20 Litre bucket in the kitchen which we place all of our organic waste (vegie peelings, fruit pits, uneaten food (not meat, citrus or much dairy) and some paper products.) If I happen to be digging over a new bed, I will dig a big trench in the centre, and chuck the bucket of waste in, spread it out, and back fill. This benefits the soil by building up the organic material, and attracts earthworms to feed.

The major composting that we currently do though, is with worm farms, utilising composting worms. We have 2, multi-tier farms, which live in the shade of the fernery. I honestly can not believe how effective the worms are at consuming waste. We fill a 20 Litre bucket probably every 1.5 – 2 weeks with food scraps, and by the time that we empty into the worm farms, the previous bucket has been entirely consumed.

Do I use the castings and worm juice on the garden? Well, firstly, I am a lazy gardener. Why am I admitting this? Why am I building this anticipation unnecessarily? Basically, I found that A. I was producing more worm juice that I cared to water the garden with, B. I found that my lack of releasing the juice, would cause a build up in the farms which would go stanky, and cause worm drownings. Due to this, I just keep the taps open.

The castings? I have used these a couple of times, and, I long to be fully utilising the castings in the garden… my problem, removing the worms. On the odd occasion that I thought, “this is it, im going to get those castings”, I have begun the task, and very soon given up on the incredibly slow and unrewarding task. These multi-tier worm farms go on the theory that worms tend to migrate to the top tray where all of the fresh food is made available. In my experience, yes, the top tray is laden with worms, but, the under trays still contain far more worms than I wish to sort.

A solution? I have been pondering the possibility of taking 2 buckets which can slot into each other, the top one with holes drilled into the bottom. The bottom bucket would have the castings added, then, flooded with water. The theory being that the worms would migrate to the second bucket (i guess with a portion of casting, or bedding material) leaving the bottom bucket filled with wormless castings for the garden. Has anyone else got any secrets to separating the worms from the castings?

Anyway, I have been keeping the worms successfully for almost 3 years now, so, here is my advice:

  1. Worms will eat just about anything, food scraps, hair, tea bags, coffee grounds, cardboard, paper, and, I am told, vacuum cleaner dust.
  2. I have been told never to feed worms citrus, as it will kill them. I have done so in the past, and did not notice any impact on the population, I did however notice, long after feeding the citrus, that a strong citrus smell lingered in the trays.
  3. Feeding meat may attract flies etc. Although, I am told by a man that I once bought worms from, that they love fish. I prefer to bury my fish directly into the garden personally.
  4. All sorts of other bugs will move into the worm farm. I leave them be, they do not seem to harm the worms, and I assume, contribute to the composting.
  5. Keep the trays moist, but not wet. I have found that I have not really needed to add water (although I do when I rinse the bucket. I empty the bucket, chuck some dry leaves over the food, then pour the water, post rinse, over the top.
  6. That is pretty much it, if you are short on space and do not wish to see your food scraps going into the bin, I recommend worm farms as a low maintenance, feel good solution.

Below, some pics. For some reason, I was unable to achieve a blur-less pic of the worms, but, you get the gist.

Hobart composting worm farm 1

Hobart composting worm farm 2

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