4 SUREFIRE WAYS TO A THRIVING WORM FARM
Worm farms are a great way to reduce your organic waste and be environmentally conscious in the process. Plus there is the added benefit of producing your very own ‘black gold’ organic fertilizer in the process. Good for your plants, fantastic for the Earth. There is really nothing to lose from starting a worm farm – and much to gain.
That said, on the odd occasion (particularly when you are just starting out) you will worry that you are faltering as a farmer or wonder whether your farm ecosystem could be healthier. But how do you even know what healthy looks like?
This post gives you my top tips and tricks for ensuring your farm is a thriving lively eco-system and your worms are as fit as fiddles.
Get up close & personal with your worms
The best piece of advice I could offer on getting your worm farm ship-shape is to spend time getting to know how your worms behave. The more you engage with your worms, the more you will come to appreciate what works and what doesn’t, what they love and what puts them off their game.
So, when you feed your worms, don’t just dump and run, spend a moment observing the conditions of your farm and how your worms look. Over time, you will get a good feel for what a balanced ecosystem looks like and you will recognize for example if the system has become too wet or too acidic or if you have given them a little too much food.
Not super keen on getting up close and personal with them? Perhaps a little squeamish? Get yourself a sturdy pair of gardening gloves or a decent garden fork – that way you won’t have to come into physical contact with your worms and you can still get to know them. With any luck, you will soon warm to your worms and be happy digging around in their dirt. If not, don’t give up, and remember that composting your waste is a much better lifestyle solution than sending that sh!t to landfill!
Blend or break down
This single tip revolutionized my worm farming practice.
Worms don’t have teeth, so rather than bite at food particles, they simply draw food into their mouths. As a result, the smaller the food particle, the easier it is for them to consume.
Try cutting your food scraps into small pieces or (for the super ambitious) throwing it into a food processor. You will quickly notice that smaller morsels enable worms to break down the food much quicker, which means they will consume more food. I estimate that my worms consume double the amount of waste if it has been cut down to size.
The flow-on benefit to faster consumption is that the waste won’t rot before it is consumed. As soon as waste starts to rot, it begins to produce greenhouse gases, which is exactly what we are trying to eliminate through composting our waste.
Of course the more immediate effects of rotting food is the smell that it gives off. No one wants a stinky farm. Your worm farm will begin to smell if the worms are unable to consume waste before it starts to rot. Blending/chopping or otherwise breaking waste down into smaller pieces will significantly reduce the chances of this occurring.
‘Bury’ or bust
Use a garden fork to gently turn your worm food into the farm. The primary benefit of this is that it deters any unwanted pests from visiting your farm by masking the smell of food. Fruit flies, for example, are attracted to the sweet smell that fruit gives off. Flies also like to lay their eggs inside a food source so their larvae have something to live on once they hatch. Don’t like flies? Burying food is your ticket to a fly free zone.
A flow-on effect of burying food is that you will simultaneously be giving your farm a good aeration in the process. Worms love a well-aerated space and digging in there with a garden fork each time you feed your worms will have them happy as clams.
Don’t leave your worms out in the cold
Worms don’t cope well in extreme heat and extreme cold. Protect them from the extremes and they will continue to populate in great numbers.
If your summers are hot, keep your worms out of direct sunlight. Keep them in the shade of a tree or keep them indoors where it’s cool and away from the sun. Monitor your farm for moisture more regularly so your farm doesn’t dry out.
In winter, place a hessian bag on top of your worms to keep them insulated. Keep them in a sunny spot and cover the farm exterior with an old blanket.
If you live in a climate of extreme conditions, why not consider keeping your farm indoors like I do? If you have a well-maintained farm, there are no downsides to keeping your worms inside. As I like to say, keep your friends close and your worms closer!
Having problems with your worm farm and can’t figure out what you’re doing wrong? Check out our troubleshooting guide for a general run down on what might be the problem and how best to fix it. Or get in touch directly for some personalized worm advice.