Friday, January 22, 2010

How to worm farm

I inherited a worm farm from Paul's grandmother and it has been a real winner because I don't make lawn clippings, so struggle to create enough compost in my compost bin.

Worm farms are self-contained systems that retain most nutrients for re-use. They break down kitchen scraps into a nutrient-rich compost-like substance (vermicast/worm castings) and ‘worm juice’ that can then be used as garden fertiliser. 

The actual bins come in all shapes and sizes. Mine has four layers, the bottom of which has a tap for the liquid vermicast to drain out of. All the layers have holes, so that worms can make their way between them in search of new food.

My friend David Chin got me started with Tiger worms from his worm farm, and I've been away laughing ever since.

Tiger worms are able to tolerate a range of temperatures from 0 - 35°C and will eat almost all organic household waste, including cooked and raw vegetable and fruit scraps, paper, cardboard, tea bags, coffee grounds, egg shells, hair and contents from your vacuum cleaner bag.

As the worms eat, liquid is released from the food scraps and this gradually filters into the bottom collecting tank. This is liquid vermicast or 'worm juice' and is a highly nutritious plant food. It MUST be diluted 10 : 1 before you water it onto your garden. When your bin is working near its maximum capacity, you should get around a litre of this liquid vermicast per week.

Then, as worms digest their food they will also begin to form a dark rich compost called vermicast in the base of the bin. This is an excellent fertiliser that is stable and safe to add to seedlings, houseplants and your general garden.

How to use your bin
I would recommend putting all your fresh food scraps into the top layer. When it's full you can move it to the bottom to give scraps time to break down. The second layer will became your top layer and it will have a lot of beautiful vermicast ready to go on your garden. 

You will want to scoop out most of the decomposed vermicast for your garden, but it will be riddled with worms. Lay a few sheets of newspaper out on the ground in the sunshine and tip the tray of vermicast out onto this. Worms avoid sunlight and will burrow to the bottom, so you can scoop most of the vermicast off the top. 

Put the newspaper and contents back into the tray and you've got a fresh layer ready to go. 

It's also a good idea to cover the top layer of food scraps with newspaper to deter fruit flies. Your worm farm should smell like a forest floor, so if it starts to get stinky, add more paper or sprinkle a good handful of garden lime on top of the food scraps.


  1. Helpful post. Louise wants to make a worm farm.

  2. Louise should totally do it. They're really easy to maintain and produce good stuff.

  3. An old bath makes a cool worm farm. Build a frame to hold it and a lid. Lay chicken mesh in the bottom, top with weed mat, Add some good compost and some tiger worms. Feed from one end, Dig a hole in compost or worm casings, add food, sprinkle food with lime then cover with soil. Works a treat. Put a bucket under the plug hole to collect worm juice.

  4. I cover the soil/compost/worm castings with newspaper or cardboard.

    1. Sounds like a great system. I've also heard of people making worm farms out of old car tires. I guess you could use anything really.


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