farming earthworms

earthworms and their food

All my garden waste and kitchen scraps go into my worm farm or compost bins. These provide nutrients for my garden beds so I can grow vegies which I then eat – recycling at its best.

At first I assumed the City of Stirling’s new Waste Collection and Recycling Service will use the 240L bin for green waste (with a green lid) for garden waste and kitchen scraps. After reading their publicity I’m not so sure.

The green waste bins will be delivered to all properties above 400m² in land size. Residents in smaller properties can order a green waste bin if desired. – City of Stirling

Smaller properties in the City of Stirling which won’t automatically receive a green waste bin presumably don’t have gardens. People with larger properties and gardens which produce lawn clippings, weeds, prunings, etc. would put these in the green waste bin to be collected and mulched by the Council for use in public parks and gardens.

I guess this means everyone will put their kitchen scraps into the general waste bin (with red lid) which ends up in landfill. Any organic matter can be recycled through composting eg.

  • lawn clippings, weeds, prunings, etc from the garden
  • food waste from the kitchen
  • newspaper, tissues, paper towels
  • contents of vacuum cleaners

People who don’t have a garden can still compost their biodegradable waste on a small scale using the power of earthworms in a Worm Farm. The City of Stirling provides a fact sheet on Worm Farming, but I wish they promoted this easy form of recycling more. Providing worm farms at a discounted rate or even free of charge would be good.

collecting liquid worm castings

Here are my tips on the care and feeding of earthworms. You can buy a ready-made Worm Farm or make your own out of whatever you have to hand: an old bathtub, plastic containers, or a set of drawers. Drainage holes are a must, in the lid and any layers, and also at the bottom with an area to collect the liquid worm castings.

The earthworms you buy for a Worm Farm are not the same as those found in garden soil. Tiger worms or Red Wigglers (Eisenia fetida) and Indian Blues (Perionyx excavatus) have bigger appetites and faster breeding cycles. If you put them in your garden soil they will starve, although you can put them in a compost bin which will have as much food as a worm farm.

Earthworms can be fed with whatever organic kitchen scraps you have, plant matter only, but avoid citrus and onions.

newspaper covers the earthworms and their food

I also add newspaper, mainly to cover the plant matter but earthworms will happily eat it. This gives me a quick indication of whether they need water. If the newspaper is damp, the earthworms have enough moisture, if it’s dry, I add some water. The holes in the top of the worm farm allow rain to seep in. Holes in every layer allow earthworms to crawl between layers and excess water drains to the bottom, dissolving worm castings on the way. The tap at the bottom lets me access the nutrient enriched all natural liquid fertilizer. Any earthworms I find here get put back at the top.

a jar of all natural liquid fertilizer

If you don’t have a garden, worm castings can be used on pot plants on a balcony or courtyard or indoor plants.


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