Recycle all your kitchen food scraps & soft garden waste into a rich form of worm compost through the digestive system of worms – sounds gross doesn’t it, but it’s packed full of micro-organisms and nutrients, ready to apply direct to your vegetable garden.
What are composting worms?
Worms used for composting are, Red Wriggler, Tiger Worm & Indian Blue, the Red Worm is more commonly used throughout the worm composting industry.
What not to feed your worms
The Red Worm isn’t a fussy variety; it’s the easiest worm to look after as it can handle varied conditions, other varieties need very specific conditions to survive.
What you can feed your worms (compost through your worms)
• Kitchen food scraps• Most vegetable peelings and fruit scraps• Manures - cow & horse manure are the best (if you have cows and horses)• Small pieces are best, making it easier for the worms to digest
What not to feed your worms
• Acidic fruits such as citrus, lemons & tomatoes
*Acidy fruits will unstabalise the ph level in your compost, Worms thrive in ph neutral conditions...
• Chicken manure, as it is also acidic
• Meat, which attracts vermin - you don’t want a plague of mice or rats running around your worm composting system. ...
• Materials containing toxic chemicals (such as treated saw dust) as this will harm the worms.
Setting up your worm compost farm
You can start out with as little as 2kg of worms. Every 2 months your worms will double in population, so in a very short time you will have a high population of worms, turning your rubbish into liquid gold.... (Well almost)
What to house your worms in
This depending on how much space you have, and scraps to contribute - here are a few suggestions:
a) A polystyrene container with a hole on the side ¼ of the way up from bottom to let water drain out
b) An old bath tub with mesh over the plug hole to stop the worm compost from cogging the drain
c) A wooden box on the ground
d) Use your existing garden compost
e) Raised composting beds
How to make raised worm composting beds
- For the avid grower who wants the maximum production of worm compost fertiliser
• Pick a shady area, ideally a shade house or an old shed, under the veranda or even the garage. If this isn’t an option for you, cover the worm bed with Hessian to keep the light off the top of the bed, the worms will then feed to the top of the surface….
Regardless of size, weather large or small, you will need to:
• Build a bed that is waste high, no wider the 1m, (for ease of maintenance)
• Slopped at 15-20 degrees to assist in drainage of your liquid to a point were it can be collected in a bucket
• Build the bed out of tin with sides no more than 20cm/8 inches deep
• Elevated on wooden posts with cross bar/s for support.
• Put holes in the tin for drainage, collecting the worm compost fertiliser into a bucket
• Fill the beds half way, with bedding material like shredded newspaper, finished compost and grass clippings - It is important to provide a bedding mix that will not be as fresh as the main food source.
• If using a small container you can prop it up with house bricks to make it elevated, allowing you to place a bucket under the container to collect the liquid worm compost fertilizer.
It is time to add the compost worms
Each time you add a layer of food about 5 centremetres (2 inches) thick add a layer of fine mulch, grass clippings, or compost on the top, to avoid attracting vinegar flies.
Add a small amount of food (1-2kg) in the first week and gradually increase the amount over the next 6 months. A worm farm with a surface area of one meter square will hold around 10,000 worms. They can consume up to 10 kg of food waste per square meter each week…….
........The liquid worm compost fertiliser will be yellow to dark brown in colour, depending on the concentration of the liquid. The darker the liquid the higher the nutrient value, a higher nutrient value can be achieved when you only water to keep the worm compost moist, if you are over watering the compost will be less concentrated.
Worms will breed and grow in direct proportion to the environment that you provide for them,
Each worm contains the male & female organ, so any mature worm from the same species can mate.
After mating they both produce a capsule containing 20 eggs. A mature compost worm might mate every 7-10 days & produce 4 to 20 capsules per week, but only 3 capsules will hatch with 4 worms inside. Producing 12 baby worms per mature worm each week. These babies reach maturity in about 55-70 days.
The eggs will only hatch if the soil is moist, the eggs can survive for long periods in dry conditions waiting for the ideal conditions to start reproducing.
The compost worm is very smart as it will only populate to a volume that is able to sustain them within the environment provided, they stop producing young when their environment is at the maximum volume to sustain them
Ideally – only feed your worms once a week
If some food remains uneaten, reduce the amount of food you are giving them. If a lot of food remains UN eaten for long periods, it can cause the worm beds to go acidic, if this happens apply some lime to increase the ph back to neutral. A tell tail sign that your worm beds are acidic is it will smell sour.
If your finding you have excess scraps, it would be a good idea to start another worm farm, to use all of your scraps……as the worms can only eat a limited amount each day, its best to increase the size of your existing worm farm or start another one…having scraps lying around will encourage insects and vermin
The value of worm compost fertiliser
The liquid worm compost fertiliser contains millions of organisms including
bacteria and fungi species,
but is bacteria dominated.
Use on all crops as a soil microbe booster, or use as a base with other liquid fertilizers that are soil stimulants such as Humic or Fulvic acid, Kelp and Fish products.
All these fertilisers are a very good food sources for good bacteria & fungi living in the soil and on your plants, providing the ideal conditions for your produce to grow, giving them wide range minerals, organisms & essential plant foods which will help in- decomposing material within the soil, releasing nutrients & suppressing disease.
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