We’ve all seen those worm farms in the garden shops – some for more than $100 dollars, just to hold worms. A couple of weeks ago I went to the Queensland Garden Expo and attended a demonstration on how to make your own worm farm from leftover bits and bobs and one purchased plastic tap. Oh, and the worms. You’ll need 2000 of those little babies.
As food lovers we should return the leftovers to the Earth whenever we can, even if it’s to a pot of basil or rosemary. I don’t have a lot of soil as most everything here is decking or paving.
Giving the demonstration was our own food, farm and travel blogger, Lizzie Moult from Strayed from the Table. When Lizzie and her husband Roy moved to the country to a community called Hunchy (I’m not making this up) they went from gastronomical budget travel to farming. One of the things Lizzie and Roy needed was a worm farm for getting rid of kitchen scraps so the worms could uhh.. err.. poo a lot so their garden would grow. Gardens LOVE worm poo. It’s a perfect organic liquid fertilizer.
Lizzie uses styrofoam vegetable boxes that she got for free. One box was obviously used for broccoli. She said all she did was ask at the veggie market. You need two to start with and one must have a lid.
On the bottom box you need to put a tap/valve in so you can drain off the liquid. You can get the plastic tap at your local hardware store. It pokes through the styrofoam and when there is liquid in the bottom box, you drain it off.
Lizzie says that’s worm pee and it’s great for the garden if you dilute it before using. I’ll take her word for it but I don’t really want to think about worm pee. It’s way too strong to use undiluted and will harm your plants.
Once you have your tap in, you’re ready for box number two. Yes, this is the box they’ll poo in so it really IS box number two.
First you poke holes in the bottom using a kitchen skewer. You want a lot of them about an inch or so apart, including the corners, so any liquid gets to the bottom where you can drain it off for your garden.
Once you have all the holes, lay a piece of shade cloth, burlap or other loosely woven fabric that will allow the liquid to pass through but not your precious worms. Then add some mulch like straw in the bottom to about 1/4 full.
Next add compost – Lizzie suggests using mushroom compost and use enough to bring it up to about 3/4 full.
Now come the worms! Lay them out on the compost and cover them with about an inch of mulch – straw or sugar cane mulch and lightly water. You don’t want the worms wet – only moist.
Place a bit of old damp carpet on top and then close the lid and leave them all alone for 3-4 days. Worms hate being moved so they need this time to rest before getting fed. Make sure the lid is on securely or your worms will go walkabout.
Don’t feed them very much but when you do, place it at one end of the worm farm and recover with the damp carpet. When the food is gone and they’re ready to be fed again put the next food in the middle and the next time on the other end. Too much food will rot and the worms won’t be happy. You’re better off feeding them less and letting them grow and procreate and then they’ll eat what you give them. According to Lizzie, the worms will only multiply to fill the space available.
Worms will eat most anything but they don’t like onions or citrus. It’s not good to feed them meat, dairy or anything that’s sprouting. They won’t eat it and it will rot and mess up their box. Don’t put pet poo in there either because it will affect your plants.
Lizzie did a great job and I will have my new worm farm cranking juice soon. If you’re in Southeast Queensland, Lizzie is hosting a workshop on Saturday, July 27th at her farm on how to grow organic vegetables with Gary Hands from Kookaburra Organics.
What a GREAT post, Maureen. I totally agree worms are great for the garden. Not only do they provide “food” for the plants, they also aerate the soil which is most important especially during the “dog” days of summer.
Thank you so much for sharing your day with us. It sure was a learning experience!
It was a fun day. I went on Friday and on Sunday 🙂
wok with ray says
I know I am one of those who would not sort the garbage for food and discard back to the soil. Guilty, guilty, guilty but thanks for the reminder because I will start doing it again. This is a good turorial and tips. Thank you Maureen and I hope you are having a great week! 🙂
Thanks for the comment Ray and I’m not one bit surprised that you’d do that! 🙂
Super fun post! I’ve read about Lizzie’s worms on her blog (let’s not look too carefully at how I phrased that, OK?) and learned so much from her posts. And you’ve done all of us a great service – we all need worms! We do some composting, but not nearly to the extend that Lizzie does. Fortunately our garden seems pretty rich in worms, so we’ve never thought to grow them ourselves – but it’s a terrific idea. Fun pictures and really entertaining post – thanks !
Isn’t Lizzie fun? A bit larger than life but I’m lucky she’s not too far away from me. 🙂
Christina @ The Hungry Australian says
Lovely post, Maureen. And nice to see Lizzie popping up here, too. I’ve recently reconnected with my garden and have been weeding and planting. Next step – portable garden beds and a worm farm 🙂
That’s very interesting but the thought of worm poo is really gross. I’m truly a city girl! I hope Norma reads this post as she is such an avid gardener, I’m sure she’ll try it.
Ash- foodfashionparty says
What a nice post, my boys would love to read your post and get their hand on to doing this. For now all we do is collect our compost and use it up for some gardening stuff.
Hester @ Alchemy in the Kitchen says
Excellent post, Maureen! A recipe for worm poop! But seriously, I have looked at fancy versions in my local eco shop (they are EXPENSIVE). I love that this one is recycled and you explain it so clearly.
Dear Maureen, I really did learn so much in this post. The most I have used worms for is fishing and I haven’t done that in a long while.
Blessings dear. Catherine xo
This is such a great tutorial from you here my friend, my grandparents need this, they are avid gardeners 😀
Thanks! If I gardened (though I have a purple blue thumb) I would definitely give this a shot!
P.S I will not be commenting for around 4 weeks to prepare for my exams – see you in a month 🙂
The Food Sage says
Oh dear … guess i know what my first garden projet is going to be when i get home.
I’m looking forward to getting worming. Thanks for the inspiration.
Food bloggers cook a lot and I know we all say we don’t want to waste but inevitably we do. A worm farm turns our waste into something good for the planet.
Wormy worms! Fun!
Lizzy (Good Things) says
Wonderful stuff, Maureen and Lizzie! I LOVE worms… always buy boxfuls to add to my garden. Thank you for sharing.
I like the idea of worms but I don’t like the wiggly things in my hands. I can’t bear the tickle.
My dad use to keep three of these containers in the garage for his fishing worms. It’s a great idea and definitely works. You’re taking me way back with this post. 🙂
I probably go back a lot farther than you do 🙂
Oh dear. I have a fancy $100-ish worm farm… The only advantage that I can see is that it has legs, and if I had a styrofoam one my dogs would destroy it and celebrate with a gourmet meal of tasty worms and kitchen scraps with a side of worm wee 🙂
This is such a great way to recycle otherwise not-environmentally-great styrofoam boxes!
Such a great post! Bear built me a worm farm thingamajig but I had no idea what to do with it. 🙂 Now I know!! 🙂
Well, you should get it going 🙂
Great post Maureen – I’m afraid I’m with Jas that many years ago I went to Bunnings and got a fancy $100 one. It worked a treat and I was proud as punch with my worms until I got a Staffie pup who took a liking to chewing off the tap and thought toppling the whole thing over was great fun. I ended up having to adopt out the worms to a better home…at least I tried!
Awww.. when we lived in Victoria the parrots would sit on top and wait for one to try to escape. Fun to watch. 🙂
Claire @ Claire K Creations says
Brilliant! Thanks Lizzie and Maureen. I’ve been contemplating a worm farm but this looks like something I could handle. If you put it on a few bricks it would even have a stand (cause mine would be in the backyard not on a table. Thanks for sharing Maureen!
You definitely need a worm farm. When I had one in New Zealand I tossed the worm tea on our mandarin tree and it was absolutely covered in fruit the following year.
Hotly Spiced says
That’s very good information told clearly and concisely about how to put together a worm farm. I had never before thought about worms peeing and pooing! How lovely to catch up with Lizzie. It’s great that there are cheaper alternatives to starting a worm farm then having to pay $100 for a couple of boxes xx
Really, a worm farm is just a series of boxes but what they leave behind really makes a difference in the garden.
My first reaction…”ewww.. WORMS!”. Of course after that reaction… I enjoyed the tutorial. 🙂 I need to get my hands into the dirt more often. 🙂
LOL I don’t like playing with worms either 🙂
Looks like the ‘worm is turning’ on worms in the garden.
Thanks for the heads up at my post. You are a good friend.
Julie @ Peanut Butter and Julie says
Very interesting post, Maureen! I can honestly say that I knew NOTHING about worm farms prior to reading this. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around 2000 worms — yikes!!
They’re pretty small when they’re babies, Julie 🙂
Jan's Sushi Bar says
We are big composters – two bins in our back yard – and my husband has been itching to try vermicomposting in a big way. Thank you for this; I’ll send him over here postehaste!
Let me know how the worming goes!
Barbara | Creative Culinary says
I had a lot of worms in my yard and my garden and I know how beneficial that was. I admit…I sort of loved that is also meant a lot of robins feeding their babies. Dust to dust right?
Nice post; anxious to see how it works for you!
My father, the farmer, was a great composter in his day. His garden was so well manured that even years later, it provides nutrients for the weeds that now inhabit my back yard. 🙂
No worm farms in my future however.
Tricia @ Saving room for dessert says
This is such an interesting post! My husband will love it. We have a good stock of worms in our compost bin – guess I need to go fishing!
You can pop the worms into your garden and you’ll never regret it!
Thank goodness my garden has plenty of worms! They do great work, but I’m not sure I have the stomach to have my own farm. I’m glad there are people who are willing, though 🙂
I like having a worm farm because once they’re in I don’t have to touch them. I can’t stand the wiggle.
lizzie - strayed from the table says
Thanks for sharing the wealth about worms, they are a really important part in growing vegetables and can produce some really great fertilizer for the garden. Thanks again for visiting me at the expo – you made my day.
EA Stewart says
Fun post! I’d love to do my own composting, but haven’t tackled it yet. I have to say I am very proud of myself for hooking my first ever worm the other day when my kids and I went fishing. Kind of yucky, but I survived, although we didn’t catch any fish…
Wow! A post about worm pee and poop and surprisingly I found it fascinating:-)
Karen (Back Road Journal) says
I’ll have to look into this a little more but my problem is that we are gone for long periods of time.
erin @ she cooks, she gardens says
Excellent! What an awesome use of stuff that would otherwise end up landfill. I have used these old boxes as container gardens before but never thought to re-purpose a couple into a worm farm. I will have to give it a shot. 🙂
Had one of those expensive ones way back and it worked well for a decade or so and then succumbed to old age. Have plenty of old styrofoam boxes in the garage: so, come spring may just try it the ‘el cheapo’ way 🙂 ! The diluted liquid from the tap makes each and every plant take note, I can assure you!! Never thought in terms of poo and pee!!!!
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says
I’m afraid that I had to skip right past this post. I can’t stand the sight of worms although I know how good worm farms are and hubby helped set one up for my parents!
suzanne Perazzini says
Such a wonderful thing to do with children.
I think it’s important for kids to realize how hard cows work 🙂
The wriggly things that are so good for our gardens….shudder. I can’t imagine farming them though…..picking one up to transport it to another part of the yard is gross enough, lol!!
I don’t have to touch them. They eat kitchen scraps and we pour off the fertilizer and when the box gets full, you uncover one third and they’ll move to the other side and you take out some of the castings for the garden. Easy 🙂
Mary Frances says
Woah – this is serious!!
I love this departure as we are all multi faceted. In other words I like that you don’t subscribe to branding and change things around which makes it so much more interesting. I always romanticized about composting and bringing worms into my garden but….:)
Charles Smith says
I hope I can get into things like this when I have my own place some day. They’re so useful for the garden!
I’m sure you will. I looked outside today and my father-in-law has written on the side of one of the styrofoam boxes, “Maureen’s Farm.” I lol’d!
Amy Fralix says
Love this post, I live in the southern united States and it gets hot in the summer. Do you think the Styrofoam would help protect them from the heat?
Hi Amy, I live in Northern Australia where it’s hot like Florida (we’re upside down, remember) and the worms survive for me. Should work for you too.