Saturday, 7 February 2009


With the heat wave many worm farms are under great stress as they are usually made of black plastic and are too small to allow temperature to be regulated. Here is a couple of ideas for worm systems that will recycle your kitchen scrapes.

A simple in ground recycling system that turns your kitchen scraps into fertilizer, aerating and enriching your garden beds on site. You add the food and the worms feed your garden, no turning or digging..
Bury the worm tunnel between half and three-quarters of its depth.
Backfill to 50cm of soil level with a mix of enriched soil ,manure and weeds.
Add compost worms
Add your daily kitchen waste and a little carbon material. One way to do this is to wrap your scrapes in newspaper and the little packages are ready for the worms to munch or rip some newspaper into small pieces and cover the kitchen waste.
Place a damp hession bag , old door mat or towel on top to keep it dark and damp.
Replace the lid to ensure your not attracting vermin and keeping the moisture in.

This is an ideal system for small households or for larger households you could have a tunnel in each garden bed.

Make sure that you place it where it’s easily accessible.
To blend the tunnel into garden you can decorate anyway that suits.
Every week add a bit extra carbon type material like torn newspaper or dried grass dampened down.
Once a month sprinkle the food scraps with a little lime or dolomite
Avoid too much citrus.Citrus is best soaked in a bucket of water for a few days before adding. Add egg shells crushed up as small as possible as they are a rich source of calicum.

To make a worm tunnel
Join together 2 2litre buckets or couple of large plastic pot, (If the containers are different sizes fit on inside the other) Join by gluing or screws.
With a hole saw cut a series holes on the side and bottom of the bottom bucket.
Remove the end of the top bucket. Use angle grinder or Jigsaw.
Fit a lid. Terracotta plant saucers are ideal as are wooden salad bowls.
Prepare a hole in the garden and bury between half and three quarters.
Back fill with soil/compost to within 50cm of ground level. Add worms, cover with damp straw or similar, and water well, add some vegie scraps, cover with damp hessian. Cover with lid.

This system is designed to recycle domestic waste and is made from recycled materials. The design is based on the same principles as a composting toilet. The active bin can be placed conveniently near the kitchen. It may take a year to fill. The full bin can be rolled away to the garden and will take some months to complete composting. A new bin can then be made to continue the process.
The process is started by placing some carbonaceous material (eg straw, sawdust, shredded paper) into the bin, along with some active compost or soil, and compost worms. Worms can be purchased from garden or fishing shops. When the bin is set up and ready to go it should be approx 1\4 to 1\3 full of the starter mixture. The starter mix should at least cover the bottom pipe. Food scraps can then be added and covered with a small amount of carbonaceous material each time.
This system allows air to circulate throughout the bin. The oxygen is necessary for the microbes and worms to work efficiently. The sealed container ensures no vermin can enter. The volume of the container prevents drying out and excess moisture can be drained off and used as liquid fertiliser.
When the bin is full it can be left to finish digesting and you can start filling a second bin. If you are planning to build a larger compost heap, the bin can be emptied out to reveal partly decomposed material which is an excellent substitute for animal manure.
1. Soak some hay or dry grass in water, drain and place in bottom of bin. (a wheelbarrow is handy to soak such material)
2. Add some compost worms either from previous compost or purchase from garden or fishing shops. Compost worms are special worms that live on organic matter ‘red wrigglers,’ tiger where as earthworms live in the soil.
3. Add your daily kitchen scrapes.
4. Cover with carbon type material e.g. sawdust, shredded paper, dry grass or hay.
5. Close bin lid.

Once the bin is full it needs time to digest, around 3 months (depends on weather/temperature) Its best to have 2 bins, one filling while the second bin digesting.
The bin of digesting goodies can also be used as a store ready to use in your next aerobic compost heap. Tip it out and layer it into the heap.

HOUSEHOLD COMPOSTING Households today produce large amounts of food waste each day, this firstly needs to be reduced. (It will save you money as well)
Food waste needs to be dealt with daily therefore the compost heap in the garden are unsuitable. Since a compost heap is made at once, covered and left to mature. Imagine you were making a cake and you continually opened the oven and added more ingredients! How would such a cake turn out? Since the ingredient is building up slowly each day the heat generated by the composting system does not happen therefore a different system needs to be employed. Systems using compost worms are ideal and there are many to choose from. When choosing a system consider
Size of the unit - many worm farms are too small and don’t have a critical mass and can dry out quickly.
Food scraps attract vermin and flies especially meat and fish scrapes ensure your system has built in deterrents.
End use of compost ie. Do you want lots of compost or a waste elimination system?

Worm composting still requires balancing of ingredients. As the bulk is moist food waste (high N) it needs to be mixed with plenty of dry carbon material, like paper, sawdust or dry grass. The worms benefit from a little clay and lime.
If the right systems are used, the worm composting system can become a store for composting materials. These materials can be used to add to a compost heap when it is being built. Its value is similar to animal manures.
There are a vast array of small plastic bins available designed to digest household kitchen scraps .These bins require more management than a garden compost system. They don’t produce compost as such. As material is continually being added no heat is generated This process means that high moisture material being continually added and can cause the mix to become too wet and acidic, slowing down the decomposition if carbon materials are not added regularly. As there is no heat seeds will remain viable.

1 comment:

compost worms said...

Did you know that one worm produces 1/3 pound of casting s a year!