Here at TerraCycle, our team of avid environmentalists take sustainable practices beyond the office, and are always on the lookout for ways to reduce our footprint. One of these ways is worm farming.
If you haven’t heard of worm farming before, then you’re in for a treat! It’s an easy method to reduce your kitchen waste, while also making one of the most effective natural fertilisers and foods for your plant.
Here are a few tips and learnings from the TerraCycle team to help you embark on your worm farming journey and look after your little worms!
So, how does a worm farm even work?
Worm farming, otherwise known as vermicomposting, uses earthworms that are kept in a plastic bin or a purpose-built worm farm (we recommend looking online for a secondhand worm farm or local councils often offer starter kits for free or discounted prices) ). To get started, you’ll also need a bag of manure and about 1,500 earthworms (usually included in the starter kit).
The earthworms break down organic matter such as food scraps, and carbon such as cardboard, paper and leaves, to produce worm castings and the liquid ‘worm wee’.
A few top tips from the TerraCycle team to care for your worms:
- How often should you water your worms?
Water your worms as needed, mainly when adding carbon to moisten. It’s recommended to water your worms at least once a week. Worms breathe through their skin, and need moisture to breath – make sure you feel your worm bedding to tell that it’s not too damp or dry. You should also rake or fluff your worm farm to aerate it.
- How much should I feed my worms?
According to TerraCycle worm farmer, Alice, this all depends on how many worms you have. It’s recommended to start with a minimum of 1,000 earthworms. Earthworms can eat up to 3-4 kg of kitchen waste every week. The more people in your household, and the more waste you produce, the more worms you’ll need.
FEED YOUR WORMS:
- 50-60% carbon: paper, cardboard and leaves
- 40-50% organic waste: egg shells, fruit, vegetables, bread, tea bags, grains, coffee and pasta
DO NOT FEED YOUR WORMS:
- Citrus – such as, limes, lemons and pineapple
- Onion and garlic peels
- Dairy and meat
- Non-organic products such as plastic packaging
- Make sure your farm doesn’t overheat!
TerraCycle worm farmer, Ulani stresses the importance of keeping your worm farm in a dry and shaded spot. In the summer months, especially in Australia, you can put bags of ice with holes in the top of it, so the cool water melts and drips into the farm.
- What to do with pests?
TerraCycle worm farmer Gemma sometimes gets slugs and cockroaches in her worm farm. Her advice is not to worry about this; worms belong in the earth where there is an abundance of insects, so this isn’t out of the norm compared to their natural environment.
It’s always worth keeping an eye on this to make sure your worm farm doesn’t get overrun with other insects. For instance, if you do start to see a lot of ants in your worm farm this can be an indicator that your worm farm is too dry.
- Sprouting plants in your worm farm
Resident worm farmer Ulani says this is absolutely no problem! Actually, this can be a good thing. She put an avocado seed inside her worm farm, and it acted as an incubator to sprout an avocado tree.
- I have mold in my worm farm?
Worm farmer Gemma tends to get mold in her worm farm. She says, this is because her worm farm is too moist. To fix this, she covers the scraps with dry dirt and carbon matter like dried leaves and straw to keep the ecosystem in check.
If you’re looking to become a worm farmer, or are already on your worm farming journey, feel free to share any questions or hot tips you have!