Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Composting worms

Composting worms are one of nature’s most efficient recyclers.
Making Holes in the topFitting the mesh in the bottomFeeding the worms with food wasteGooey Worms!
They’ll chomp through old fruit and veg, cardboard and even vacuum cleaner dust. Here’s how to set up your own worm farm.
What you need to know
A worm farm is nothing more than a couple of boxes where your composting worms live. These critters will eat anything that was once living; kitchen scraps, cardboard, even hair clippings…ewww!
You’ll need at least 1000 of them to get started and it’s best to store your worm farm in a cool outdoor location, like a laundry, shed or garage.
What you’ll need
- 2 polystyrene boxes with lids the same size (broccoli boxes are best)
- A strip of insect screen to fit into the bottom of the boxes
- Shredded newspaper
- A bucket of garden soil, or potting mix
- Water
- Food scraps
- 1000 composting worms*
* NB: These aren't the same as ordinary earthworms. You will need to buy worms with nicknames like “Tigers”, “Reds” and “Blues”. They’re available from garden centers.
What you need to do
1. Take ONE of your boxes, and make some holes in the lid and in the bottom of the box. This allows oxygen in and also allows extra water and worm wee to drain out. Make your holes evenly spaced. The bigger the container, the more holes you will need. Use a pen or a screwdriver to make the holes.
Spread the insect screen in the bottom, over the holes. This lets the liquid through but stops the worms falling out.
2. Next, fill your container about 3/4 full with shredded newspaper. Dampen your newspaper with water before you add it to the box. All the newspaper should be soaked through but there should not be extra water collecting in the bottom of the bin. Put some garden soil or potting mix in for grit. This will help your worms digest all the scraps you add to your bin.
3. It’s now time to add some worms to the container! How much you put in depends on the amount of food scraps you plan to compost. 1000 worms are enough to start. Your worms will multiply if you keep them happy.
Place the container (or box) with the worms over the second box, allowing the water and worm wee to drain down into the second box.
4. Next, add some food scraps to the bin. See the chart below for what is good to compost. Make sure you don’t overfeed your worms. Start by putting a small amount in one corner underneath some newspaper. See how long it takes your worms to break it down. This should give you an idea of how much your worms can handle at one time. Place your food scraps in a different spot each time.
5. Keep an eye on your worms. Make sure that the shredded newspaper does not dry out. Lay a sheet of damp newspaper on top of the food scraps and keep a cover on your box. Worms like it better if it’s damp and dark.Over the weeks, the worm wee will collect in the bottom box. You can mix this with water and sprinkle it on your garden. Over the months, a layer of worm poo will build up in the bottom of the top box. If you set up a new box on top, and transfer the worms across into it, you can clean out the poo and spread it over your garden. The plants will love it!
What composting worms like to eat
- Plate scrapings (cooked vegetables and stewed fruit leftovers)
- Fruit peelings (not too much orange or lemon peel)
- Vegetable scraps and peelings (not too many onions)
- Hair clippings and vacuum cleaner dust
- Stale biscuits and cakes
- Coffee grounds and tea bags
- Crushed egg shells
- Saw dust
- Soaked cardboard
*NB: Be careful not to overfeed your worms. Remember, worms have little mouths and no teeth!