Hobart Backyard Farmer

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Worm Composting

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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12 Comments

  1. Ok, wasnt too sure what this was then remembered a friend said recently she would bring me worm wee. I just said ‘lovely’ but hadn’t a clue. Thought she had bought it at the shop! Might be less smelly than compost so I will think about it for a while but will probably do it as we have too much waste that could be put to good use. I have just got over my extreme fear of earwigs since we moved to this new house maybe they would move into the worm house instead of mine. Hope you will be pleased to know I am advertising your blog to some really good lady gardeners….rock n roll!

    • admin

      January 7, 2016 at 7:06 pm

      Thanks for the spruik… hopefully i’m not too amateur for the professional lady gardeners.

      I have never heard of a worm farm being used to lure earwigs from the house, but, you never know. You know that they crawl into your ears while you sleep yeah?

      In the mean time, if you have free space in your garden beds, I often dig a deep hole in them and bury the kitchen scraps straight into the veggie beds, the earth worms love it.

  2. Thanks, this is really useful information. I’m thinking of taking the plunge and getting a worm farm. I’m inching closer to doing it after reading this.

    • admin

      July 4, 2017 at 9:48 pm

      Mind the pun Kel (inch worm). I’m really glad that you got something from it. Stay posted (pun intended), i’ve been working on a little experiment which i will post about shortly.

  3. I would like to set up a worm farm in Launceston TAS but someone mentioned to me they’ll die if the worm farm is situated outside. Is this true?

    • admin

      July 7, 2017 at 7:38 pm

      Yep… you would be hard pressed to find worms anywhere outside.. 😉 I think you shouldn’t have any issue at all with an outdoor worm farm

  4. hi, i live in the north west of tassy and am trying to find somewhere where i can purchase composting worms without having to import from the mainland. i’ve stumbled across your blog and was wondering if you can suggest anywhere?
    thanks

  5. thanks for the reply. i asked as i’ve been trying hardware stores and nurseries and no one seems to have them. reason being that they die before they are sold, which i can understand why the store doesnt want to stock them. i’ll have a look at the link you posted.
    thanks

  6. Hi I have a home made worm farm made from zucchini boxes. I put a layer of green shade cloth on the bottom before filling and have them sitting on a broccoli box with a broccoli box lid going on top of zuc box. I have had no worm wee but have had the worms for 4 or 5 months. Could the shade cloth holes be getting clogged up? The inside of the farm is definitely wet enough. I also have slugs, west woodies (centipede family) and ants in the farm yet the worms are in there hundreds if not 1000s. Does my box need to be tight fitting with the lid? I have been tempted to buy a proper farm but want to try and solve this first. Will the other inhabitants push out the worms? I am like you and couldn’t be bothered standing there sorting worms into a new house.

    • admin

      September 30, 2018 at 10:10 pm

      Hey Mel,

      It sounds like you have a great setup. I think there are only a few basic rules, and it sounds like, you are following them. I too have a range of other residents within the worm farm (including recently some ants), but, I think, they are all contributing to the decomposition process. It should be noted that it is said that ants in the worm farm is an indication of it being a bit on the dry side.

      The real worm farms are so expensive for what they are. I myself, after a failed in ground worm farm experiment, will shortly be trying my hand at making an additional farm out of 18 litre buckets. I really want to step the composting up a notch.

      I had to look up the West Woodies, and found this interesting article… could be you next pet.

      https://www.polydesmida.info/tasmanianmultipedes/centi-sco.html

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