There are many styles of worm farms that achieve similar goals: diverting organic waste from landfill, and repurposing it as food for your garden. I’m going run through the basics of my worm farm and why it suits me – it’s the below ground option.
Below ground farms are inconspicuous which is important if you have a tiny courtyard like me. Importantly in the hot Perth climate, they allow worms to refuge deep into the soil, escaping the heat whereas the above ground farms might require added water on hot days (which also means extra work).
- 50cm x 50cm space in your yard
- Shovel (to dig hole)
- Worm farm vessel
- Bucket (with a well-sealed lid)
- Food scraps
Step 1. Go shopping
Head to Bunnings (or similar) and grab yourself a sturdy below ground vessel for your worms. I used the Reln Garden Inground Worm Farm which retails for about $30. It’s important you get one with a locking lid so rodents and flies aren’t attracted.
This style has port holes on the sides and no bottom, allowing nutrient water to seep directly into your garden bed. They also allow the worms to come and go as they please if the pH levels or temperate aren’t to their liking.
While you’re at Bunnings, you might want to buy a big shovel to dig a hole for the farm and a little hand trowel/shovel to help maintain the farm as time goes on.
Step 2. Site works
Find a suitable site in your yard. Somewhere that offers you easy/regular access, provides shade and ideally with plants nearby that would benefit from nutrient waters seeping into the soil. Bury with the lid flush to the soil.
Once in the ground, line the bottom of your farm with an old copy of the Fremantle Herald. The Herald will not only provide the worms updates from the latest happenings in Freo, it will also provide some refuge for your worms until there’s a diverse mix of food scraps for them – think of the farm like a house, worms don’t always like being in the kitchen/eating, they like places to chill…as your farm grows, you will often find clumps of worms inside eggs shells or avocado husks.
Step 3. Hunting and gathering
Now you’ve got a hole in your yard, you’re going to need a little food for your worms before they move in. Get your bucket with the well-sealed lid (I use an old yogurt container), and start placing your food scraps in here – instead of your bin! I store mine in the pantry, sometimes for weeks, and I never notice a bad smell.
There’s many do/don’ts online about what to feed your worms, even vigorous debate in some forums (yes I’ve read them…). I decided to make a second farm to test the theories myself. My findings; worms are viscous monsters and will eat anything (in moderation).
Some forums say no corn cobs, but my worms devoured them. Avo seeds, watermelon husks, tea bags, pumpkin seeds, egg shells – worms love them all. The scraps to moderate from my experience are citrus, so only put a few orange peels or lemon pieces in every now and then. I’ve got 3 farms, so I space the citrus across all 3 so I’m not overloading.
Step 4. Populating
After a couple of weeks you’ve probably got enough scraps in the bottom of your farm, you’re ready to add your worms!
Again, you can buy a box of worms from Bunnings for about $50 to get your started. If you’re lucky, you might be able to get a few from a friend. If those options don’t suit, I’m happy to help get you kick-started.
Step 5. Harvesting
It took nearly a year for my first farm to fill with worm castings. A few months prior to harvesting, I installed the second farm, which then became the primary farm, while I let the first farm rest for a while.
I take my small hand trowel and dig out the castings (along with a few worms) and dig this into various points in the garden bed – which my plants love!
I’m sure to leave enough worms in the farm so that I can start the process again.
Depending on your family size and lifestyle, you might need multiple farms. Simple rule of thumb based on my learnings;
Number of Farms = Number of people in your house + 1
This allows rotation, harvesting and balancing of acidic organics like lemons, etc.
I hope this guide is easy enough for you to follow, and even more importantly, I hope you install a farm. Let me know if you need a few worms!
See my previous story, Why I love my worm farm!