Worm castings (ie: worm poo) makes an excellent soil conditioner as it is rich with micro-organisms which help to break down plant and mineral material thereby allowing the nutrients in the soil to be more readily available.
Compost worms are very different to the deep burrowing earth worms that are commonly found in the garden. Compost worms by contrast are surface dwellers that thrive in moist environments and move much faster in search of food. The three main types of compost worms are Red Wrigglers, Tiger Worms and Blues.
Ready-made worm farms may be bought from plant nurseries or local hardware stores. Down at Dapto Community Farm we have two red bins specifically manufactured for worm farming in addition to three old bath tubs which have been converted into excellent worm farms. Our worm farms are kept under the trees near the car park, a perfect sheltered spot where it won’t get too hot or wet when it rains.
It’s best to feed the worms small, regular amounts of vegetable scraps including tea, coffee grounds and egg shells whilst keeping citrus, onion and strong smelling plants to a minimum. Meat, fish waste, dairy products and oily foods must not be used in worm farms. Worm farms require little attention other than providing an occasional light spray of water during hot weather in order to avoid the worm farm drying out. However, care must be taken not to excessively water.
After a few months we are left with two by-products, the worm castings and the vermi-liquid. The quantity of vermi-liquid is dependent upon how much water has been applied whilst the quantity of worm castings is related to the amount of feed that has been supplied over the composting time.
At Dapto Community Farm our vermi-liquid, or “worm tea”, is harvested into plastic milk containers and placed in crates adjacent to the worm farm itself. This worm tea is free to all members of the farm and is best used diluted with water to the colour of weak tea and applied using a watering can.
Small bags of our worm castings are also available and may be purchased alongside the vegetable seedlings. A handful of these castings mixed with into the planting holes of seedlings will get them off to a great start. You can also make a great plant tonic by mixing a handful of worm castings into a bucket of water and again apply using a watering can.