Worm farming is an easy way to create good garden soil and fertiliser and can be used as a tool for decreasing our waste. Each year Australians produce approximately one tonne of waste each. Of this, organic compostable waste (food waste and garden waste) can make up approximately half of the waste going into the household waste stream each week, making worm farming an effective and beneficial method of reducing waste going into landfill.

  Benefits
How to
What to feed your worms
Problems
Tips
 

Benefits of worm farming 

  • Reduces the amount of waste going to landfill 
  • Reduces production of greenhouse gases that contribute to the enhanced greenhouse effect 
  • Can be used to recycle organic waste from kitchen and garden into free organic fertiliser 
  • Returns essential minerals and nourishment to soil 
  • Converts waste into nutrients – replicates the natural recycling process 
  • Improves soil water holding capacity, soil structure and increases aeration of soil 
  • Helps to break up heavy clay soil

 

How to worm farm? 

  1. First, buy or build a worm farm. Worm farms are available at most hardware or garden stores. It is also easy to build your own worm farm. Use plastic containers or styrofoam boxes to make the layers of the worm farm. Puncture holes in the base of all layers except the bottom layer. The bottom layer will act as a bucket to collect the ‘worm tea’. The worms will live and move through the other layers. Ensure your worm farm has a cover. 
  2. Choose a location for your worm farm. A warm shady spot is best. Place the worm farm in a spot that is protected from the heat of the sun and from heavy rain. 
  3. Next, place the bedding in the worm farm. This is to go in the first working tray (the first layer above the base layer). Bedding is supplied with most worm farms purchased. If you are building your own, a good bedding mixture can be made from garden soil or potting mix. 
  4. Place your worms in the first working tray. 
  5. Begin feeding your worms after a few days. Place food in the second working tray. The worms will move up through the layers (via holes) into the next working tray. Start slowly, then build up gradually as you notice that food is being consumed faster. You will eventually be able to feed you worms a couple of times a week. 
  6. Collect the ‘worm tea’ from the base layer. This can be used as a natural fertiliser for your garden. 
  7. As worms move up through the layers, only the worm castings will be left in the first working tray. Once all worms have moved up, the castings can be harvested and used on your garden. 
  8. Replace the empty tray on top of the second working tray. The original second tray becomes the first working tray and the original first tray (now empty) becomes the second tray. Begin placing food into this empty tray. Worms will continue to move vertically through the layers to the food source.

What to feed your worms?


Feed your worms Don't feed your worms
fruit scraps garlic
vegetable scraps citrus fruits
hair onion
vacuum cleaner dust rubbish
coffee grounds fats or oily food
tea bags dairy
crushed eggshells meat
shredded newspaper magazines

Problems


Tips for a healthy worm farm: 

  • Make sure there are holes in the bottom of each layer (except the base layer) to allow for drainage and air circulation
  • Cover the food scraps with a wet newspaper to help keep the worms moist and to reduce vinegar flies 
  • Every now and then, stir bedding to aerate and ensure worms are getting enough oxygen 
  • Cut kitchen waste into smaller pieces to increase surface area – this will allow the worms to break it down faster 
  • Avoid foods with strong odours such as fennel 
  • If food remains after 5 days, you are feeding your worms too much 
  • Worms need moisture – keep worm bedding damp, but not wet 
  • Ensure worm farm is covered – this will keep out light, rain and pests 
  • Mix worm tea 50/50 with water before putting on gardens. Use the worm castings on your garden as a nutrient rich compost