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Keeping Live Worms

HOW TO KEEP LIVE WORMS…

Worms are a fantastic addition to an organic garden. They help break down food scraps & compost waste, and in return provide worm castings, which are full of beneficial microbes that improve your soil. 

Keep your worms in a cool place out of direct sunlight (where possible). Their bedding should not get over 25°c.

Worm bedding (what you buy them in!) consists of composted manures, sawdust or shredded newspaper. In worm language, this is considered their bedding and also a source of nourishment. Each worm is capable of consuming its own weight in food every 24 hours. When feeding your worms, the secret to success is to feed them only what they can consume in 2 - 3 days. Eg. 250gms worms feed approx. ½ kg every 2 days or so.

The most common problem with worm farms is overfeeding - give the worm farm time for the population of worms to get through the capacity of food you're providing.  If in doubt, cut back for a while.  Remember worms need to eat material that has decomposed & rotted down.  They can't chomp through fresh scraps.

Food can consist of:

  •  kitchen & household wastes, ie. leftovers, teabags, tissues, vacuum cleaner dust, 
     human or pet hair, shredded wet paper and cardboard. Be careful with citrus, onion
     and garlic peels, they should make up no more than 2-5% of their daily food intake.
  •  animal manures - soaked, with excess water drained off (pig, horse and cow best).
  •  garden refuse - lawn clippings, etc. but beware of heat build up.
  •  dog hair and droppings.

All food can be buried in the bedding, but we recommend animal manure and grass clippings be placed on top and only up to 5cms thick, covering half the bedding (giving the worms an area to retreat to, if excessive heat builds up). Bedding must be kept moist (but not wet) at all times.

For more information on feeding live worms, click here for a more detailed fact sheet.

WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR WORMS:

  • You can empty the pack of worms direct into your garden beds, in moist and cool areas around your plants. There will need to be some source of food (eg. organic matter, mulch, compost, etc.) to keep them working and breeding actively.
  • Start a worm farm. You can use a ready made commercial worm farm, or make your own from all sorts of recycled materials. An old bathtub or fridge (turned on its back) is ideal.
  • Do not add the worms directly to the centre of your compost bin. If you do want to add worms to your compost, add the worms around the edges of the heap at the base, making sure it is moist and cool. The worms will gradually move into the centre as it cools down.
  • Do not overfeed your worms. Any excess waste will attract flies and tend to rot, making the bedding acidic and rancid.
  • Make your own 'worm tea'.  A bucketful of water can be tipped into the top of your worm farm, and collected at the bottom (make sure the tap is open).  This will not harm the worms, as long as the liquid drains through.  The leachate is 'liquid castings' - dilute down 1:10 with water, and use as a foliar feed or fertiliser.  Plants love it! 
  • Add a light sprinkling of dolomite lime (like a dusting of salt or pepper) to your worm farm when feeding the worms. This will help reduce the acidity of the composting materials, add calcium to your soil, and worms love it!


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