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Worm farms

Worms can turn unwanted food scraps into nutrients for plants.

Feeding your food left-overs to a worm farm produces nutrition-rich castings that are great for adding to seedling mixes and potting soils, or as top-dressing around house plants.

If you don’t want to buy a worm farm, build one with boxes or make a worm bed in your garden. Worm farms are typically 30 cm tall, 60 cm wide and 90 cm long, have holes in the base to allow air in, good drainage and are covered with hessian or underfelt.

Place a base or tray underneath to catch liquid that you can use on your garden. Make a layer of bedding 10 to 15 cm deep from a combination of finished compost, leaves and soggy paper. The bedding should be torn or shredded to allow the worms to move easily.

Choose a site for the farm that is a well shaded, so your worms don’t get too hot. Now add between 1000 and 2000 worms. Buy direct from commercial worm growers or from your local nursery. Gently spread the worms out on the surface and allow them to burrow down. Then feed them.

Once the bedding has been broken down, it has become castings (or vermicompost). Move it to one side of the farm and add fresh bedding to the empty side. After the worms migrate to the fresh bedding over a few days, you will be able to remove the castings to spread on your plants.

Feeding worms

Do feed them

  • vegetable and fruit peelings
  • pulp from the juicer
  • tea bags
  • crushed egg shells
  • bread
  • small amounts of soiled paper and cardboard (such as shredded egg cartons)
  • smaller scraps, which are easier and quicker to digest
  • blend your scraps with water before feeding your worms.

Don't feed them

  • dairy products, butter and cheese
  • meat, fish, fat and bones
  • very oily foods
  • acidic food, such as citrus, onion and garlic.

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Page last updated: 29 January 2016