Sustainable Guides: Urban Worm Farms
11th February, 2021
It’s a pet that never needs to be walked and will survive purely on your food scraps. Already a head start on many other pets! Additionally, these little fellas will boost your plants’ growth while helping to reduce your carbon footprint at the same time.
There comes a time when families grow to love their worms in all their slippery glory. This love usually develops out of an appreciation for the benefits they (and their by-product) provide for improving and maintaining good-structured, rich, organic soil in the garden. The love of thy worm is reinforced by the reduction of your home’s environmental impact as they turn kitchen scraps into nutrients.
We all know that our plants are only as healthy as the soil in which they’re grown. Nutrient-rich and organically grown food is a reflection of the grower’s passion and patience for creating and maintaining a rich, biodiverse soil for plants to thrive in.
One of the best ways to boost soil health is to add products like worm tea (or, as some call it, worm wee).
Worm farms are convenient, space-efficient and clean, and a well-maintained one should have a discreet, earthy smell, never pungent.
Whatever brand or shape you choose, a worm farm should essentially allow you to feed kitchen scraps into the top box and remove worm castings and worm water from the bottom of the boxes. The look, size and brand are irrelevant if you’ve got this function down pat.
Diverting kitchen waste from ending up as landfill to premium plant food and quality humus for your garden is a key organic gardening practice. The truth is, you won’t be able to buy a product as good as this, and to be honest, why would you even consider paying for it if you can process it easily at home? If you’re taking the time to grow food, then why not indulge in the process of creating your own soil conditioner from waste as part of your home’s closed-loop system.
Your new worm friends will eat your vegetable and fruit waste, so cutting up larger pieces into bite-sized pieces for your mates will help them get through it faster. You can drop fruit and veggie scraps in, but unlike compost bins, you need to exclude large amounts of citrus peels and onions. Worm farms take eggshells, cartons, newspaper, tea leaves and coffee grounds. We put a hessian bag or cardboard over the food scraps so they stay damp and cool.
A worm’s digestive system turns organic waste into nutrients for your plants, which are in their bacteria-rich castings. As the castings accumulate, take a few handfuls to spread around new plantings. You can also dilute them 1:10 with water and add it to new soils, seedlings or areas in need of soil conditioning.
A worm’s gut also deodorises kitchen waste and neutralises castings to a pH of around 6-7, conveniently the ideal pH level to allow most plants and edible gardens to access soil nutrients. Be sure to keep your worm farm out of the sun.
Gardening and exposure to good soil bacteria through the handling, harvesting and cooking of home-grown organic food helps to increase the diversity of our gut health, aiding in a stronger immune system.
Make sure you research how to properly care for your worms, what they can and cannot eat, and the proper dilution ratio for worm tea before feeding it to your plants.