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Want to start an earthworm farm?

Published : 09/04/2009   |   Author: Hestelle Robinson | HOMEMAKERSonline

Red Wiggler Eartworms
Earth worm farm
Earth worm farm

So your are set on going green, and want to reduce your household waste.  One of the best ways to reduce your household waste is to get into vermiculture.  Vermi what?

Vermiculture is the grand word used to describe worm farming, Red Wiggler earthworms to be specific. 

But why earthworms

Earthworms take waste products and turn it into a useful product - compost.  Earthworm castings (basically their excretions) are some of the best and environmentally friendly fertilizers you get. Castings consists of 30% humus the end product of compost and is considered to be five times richer than good topsoil.

If that sounds unhygienic to you … it is a known fact that earthworms neutralize up to 99% of germs in less than 2 hours.

Another byproduct of your earthworm farm is “worm tea” an odorless liquid that seeps through the material that the worms eat.

These handy little helpers will assist you to reduce your weekly household waste by up to 25 percent!  Go on start your own earthworm farm and convert your organic waste into food for your plants.

Once you get over the fact that you have worms in your kitchen you will realize the value these little workers have for our environment.


How to start your own earthworm farm

There are two ways to starting your own worm farm; 1) make you own 2) buy a ready-made kit from a supplier.

If you decide to take the easy way out here is a list of earthworm farm suppliers.


Want to make your own earthworm farm?  Here’s how:

What you’ll need:

  • Two plastic bins with lids (black remember earthworm prefer the dark)
  • If one bin has a tap attached to the bottom of the bin it will assist with tapping the “worm tea”
  • Mesh
  • Pebbles
  • Newspaper, cardboard
  • And …. earthworms

 


Advice:  Do not think that you can get some earthworms from your garden and they will do the trick! You need a special species!  Red Wigglers (they are like superheroes when it comes to worms!).  Here are some suppliers.

 

Step 1: 

  • Take the plastic bin (without the tap) and drill a series holes in the bottom to allow drainage.
  • (Tip:  drill from the inside so the rough pieces sits on the outside of your bin, if it is on the inside it might hamper your juice flow).
  • Then drill some holes in the walls and lid of the same bin to allow air to circulate.


Step 2:

  • Place a layer of small pebbles at the bottom of the bin, followed by a layer of mesh to assist with drainage and prevent the worms from falling out the bottom.
  • For the next layer you will need to add a layer of damp shredded newspaper (long thin streaks) as the bedding for the earthworms, this layer should be about 5cm thick.


Step 3:

  • Next you will need to add the worms, remember to add them with the soil that they came in.


Step 4:

  • Cut a piece of cardboard to fit over the bedding, wet it a bit with a spray bottle.
  • “Cover” your worms with the cardboard and then put the lid on.
  • Place this bin into your bin with the tap and place it in a shady spot.  You can even leave it in your kitchen as your earthworm farm should be odorless.


Now all you need to do is add your waste when available.


The worms will chew their way up through the material leaving their castings behind. When your bin is full, remove the layer of waste and a few centimetres of castings as this will contain most of your worms. What’s left will be the best garden fertilizer you have ever produced. Add a layer of damp newspaper to the bottom of the tub and then place the scraps and worms back into the tub and start the process all over again.

The worms won’t escape as they don’t like light, if they are escaping, their food may be too acidic, don’t feed them any tea bags, coffee grounds, citrus fruit or onions for a while. They may also try to escape if the farm is too wet or too dry.

Most worm farms that you can purchase come with removable panels that allow you to easily remove the castings with less mess.

"Worm tea” (leachate) and castings are safe to use without dilution, but if you prefer the recommended mix is one part leachate/castings to 4 parts soil or water.

Your earthworms will never overpopulate, as they self-regulate reproduction. The more food there is the more they will reproduce and visa versa. Don't over feed the worms in the early stages while they are establishing the population.

If earthworms are not for you, then here is an article on how to start a compost heap.


What to feed your worms


Organic waste: 

  • Fruit, vegetables, tea bags, coffee grounds and filters, bread, cereal, paper
  • They are not too fond of citrus fruit, it is a bit too acidic for them


DO NOT feed your earthworm:

  • Dairy products, fats, meat, feces, oils


This is not a project that will yield results within the first week!  You need some patience, you can expect to harvest your first castings between 1 – 3 months.  At first you do not have to feed them that much but as your worms mature you will need to feed them daily.


Earthworms are great pets, if you go away on holiday all you need to do is place a big butternut in the middle of your wormery and enjoy your holiday.


Sources: 

Earthworm buddies, Wormforum, Mother Earthworm, Garden Girl, Earth Worm Ineterst Group, Wiggler Magic Worms.

Featured on:

Dink Groen with Amore Bekker on RSG


Have a look at this great video on how to make your own earthworm farm by Patti Moreno from Garden Girl.

 

 

Comments

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I to fine maket or buyer for earthworm because my earthworm farm have many earthworm.

Kitiwon Rattanachot on 28/04/2010

need worms to start Benoni area cell no 0829771553

Greg O`Donoghue on 16/05/2010

Thenk you for your posted video it has help to me and to those who wish to make this world a better place esp those in thrid world countrie wher there is so many threat to the envroniment
Thanks again
Octavian Rwazo from Tanzania(East Africa)

Octavian Rwazo on 12/08/2010

Its great to know the earthworm farming. It is environmental friendly.
Its very useful.

Gajendra Dubey on 17/08/2010

My worm bin has been invaded by tinny snails. They are 5mm long and 1.7 in diameter.Conical in shape. Up to now i have been unable to identify them. Need i worry and let them be. So far it seems not to afect the worms.
Thanks
Neville

N. Doman on 09/02/2011

Hi Neville
It is probably the Awl-Snail or family of it. These snails will not attack your worms so you need not worry (there is a specie in the UK that do attack the worms but not in South Africa yet).
Snails and slugs (S&S)usually do no harm to a wormery system. BUT when their population grows rapidly you might want to do something about it........
It is probably an indication that your bin is too moist. Add some dry shredded paper.
Composying systems are a food paradise for S&S. It's normal. Of a bigger concern will be the destruction of your garden and sprouting plants because the DO come from your garden....
If you see them in your wormery system, hand picking them out is probably quickest and most effective. DO NOT add slug or snail chemical repellants / poison or even salt - it will only harm your worms too.
You could also build a beer trap - yes the stuff you drink.......slugs are attracted to beer, and so by filling a jar with beer, you will attract snails and slugs to the jar where they can drown themselves.

When you have your slugs and snails, the best way to kill them is to boil them or put them into a plastic bag and freeze them.

As a preventative measure:
- copper strips (available in most garden stores) around your system
- Slug fences (creates sharp angles around the edge of the wormery systems opening)
- create a diversion by adding a composter for your greens and plant wastes near your wormery system
- Introduce predators into the surrounding area where they come from (moles, toads and shrews) or build a bird house.
Hope this helps.............

juta on 15/02/2011

Great advice thank you!

HOMEMAKERS on 16/02/2011

Soilsouls: Mmmm wonderfull place, Vryheid....I grew up in Dundee!!
We get a lot of requests fot that area - although Soilsouls can post anywhere for next to nothing (will give more info later) I think Wizzard Worms are based near Greytown.
For worms, only buy from a trusted supplier if you want to get what you pay for.....
Soilsouls can also post (only R20 postage and works great - and yes, via SAPO can you believe...we only dispatch these on Mondays and they arrive there by around Thursday) anywhere in the country....just google us and whallah wormah.
O, remember to protect your babies against the frost there in Vryheid......!

juta on 16/05/2011

Thanks for the information. Where is the closest place to Vryheid, Northen KZN where I could buy these worms? Thank you.

Fr Wayne on 16/05/2011

Hi Gvan
Those midges are likely to be fruitflies and arrived with some veggie peels. They are very normal for the warmer seasons but excessive numbers indicate an imbalance. Too wet, likely. And possibly too acidic. Try adding some shredded paper/ corrugated cardboard to dry it out. And the big secret: agricultural LIME (or eggshells) to get pH back in line. But just a little bit.
Try to "bury" the food and put a layer of newspaper on top, cut slightly larger than your bin and cover the contents. Or a layer of coir.....
Hope this helps! The paper and lime is a big secret to a succesfull wormery.........

juta on 06/09/2011

I want produce vermicompost and please let know where can I get earthworms in Tanzania.
Thanks,
CVA

C.V. Abraham on 12/10/2011

Article on Earthworm Tea http://excelsiorwineblog.wordpress.com/

Emily on 18/05/2012

My wormery has been invaded by midges. They are fast becoming a big nuisance. Is there anything I can do to control their numbers or get rid of them completely?

Gvan on 30/08/2011

My wormery has been invaded by midges and they are becoming a nuisance. What can be done to either control their numbers or get rid of them?

g van rhyn on 01/09/2011

Hi tx for gr8 advice! I notice my red wrigglers were trying to escape so I went to nearby stable and got a few bags of horse manure and of course it come with a bit of hay, Is this correct procedure for earthworm farm? I didnt know about newspaper till now...

Karen on 03/04/2013

Hi,
can anyone tell me what will happen if I have my normal earthworms mixed in with the wrigglers,
what is wrong with the old garden variety.

thanks

Romley,

KZN

Romley on 12/08/2013

Thanks please. I want to keep worms for my poultry farm please support me.I want to reduce on the amount of feed cunsumption.

joseph ssenkungu on 04/10/2013

Hi, where can I buy worms in Gauteng to start a worm farm for a school project.

Karl Morgan on 27/01/2014

How deep can you let the layer of wormfood become before changing it?

aminnaar on 09/09/2014

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