Part one – setting up the farm & moving the worms in.
A few years ago we had a worm farm that produced beautiful ‘worm tea’ and vermacasts for the garden. Worm by-products are a fantastic rich fertiliser that doesn’t burn plants. I can’t remember why we stopped using it, but for some reason the worms were set free and the farm was packed away.
While pottering around recently I found the old plastic worm farm and have decided to give it a new lease on life. Sadly parts of it seem to have been ‘re-purposed’ or just plain lost over the years and it’s been left without it’s tap or the lid. I had a scrounge around and came up with some things I hoped I could use to get it up and running again.
Before I could start moving the worms in I had to do something about the missing tap or the precious worm tea (and maybe the worms!) would leak out of the hole at the bottom. I needed something that could drain the liquid, but could also be sealed up. It had me stumped at first but then I thought the top of a lemonade bottle and it’s lid might just work…
The lemonade bottle top was just a tiny bit too big for the hole in the tub, but a very sharp knife helped widen it just enough. It fits pretty well, but not 100% snug, so I’ll keep an eye on how much leakage there is and put some silicone sealant around the hole if need be.
The old tap was narrower and used to get clogged up a bit so maybe this will flow better, if it lasts!
Once the tap issue was sorted, it was just a matter of setting up the worms new home. As my daughter is currently keen on being an entomologist when she grows up I was lucky to have a willing helper.
Half a dozen pages of damp newspaper (worms don’t like anything dry!) went in to line the first ‘residential’ tray that was nestled above the drainage tray.
Here is the Box O’ worms! I bought them live from a hardware shop which my daughter found to be a very strange idea indeed. Compost worms are different varieties from standard earthworms which we are also lucky to have in the garden.
I’ve read recommendations that worm farms the size we are using should be started with 500 worms and others that recommend at least 1000 or even 2000. We’ve just got 500 and the hope that in a few weeks they will be happy enough in their new home to make more worms!
Below my daughter is helping spread the worm mixture gently across the tray. They go in complete with the organic matter they were boxed with to help them settle into their new home and have somewhere to hide. Worms like hiding so much we thought our box of worms had no worms at first!
Every bit of information on worm farms seems to recommend only giving them a little food at first, but they don’t tend to quantify what a ‘little’ is, so we guesstimated about a cup worth of compostables, mainly old potato peelings and banana skins. The Gardening Australia fact sheet on worm farms recommended banana skins, so hopefully we’ll be hearing contented munching noises soon!
At this stage the worms should not need feeding again for a least a week as they will be busy settling in. Definitely don’t feed worms meat or meat tainted scraps and limit use of onion or citrus in a worm farm.
Last of all we added a blanket for the worms – another layer of damp newspaper. The whole farm can be covered with wet hessian or carpet if it’s getting really hot.
I checked our worms a few hours after setting them up and already they are moving about the new food scraps, so I’m guessing they are hungry! We will be checking on them each day to see how they are going and to make sure that their home does not dry out.
I’m not sure what to do for a more long term solution for the missing lid, but my temporary solution was to out an old sign across the top and weigh it down with the spare worm farm tray. I’ll scrounge up something more permanent soon.
I found out what these pesky little critters were. They are a native ‘true bug’ Scolypopa australis with the common name ‘Passionvine Hopper’ . They love sucking the sap from creepers and other plants (like buddleia) that produce nice juicy new shoots. Interestingly when I trimmed out the canopy of the buddleia noticed a lot less of these and some contented looking Red Wattle Birds. You have to love natural biological controls!
Last but not least, one of my favourite roses…