Worms For Waste: How To Keep These Hard Workers Happy
Have you been down to Food For Change’s Briars farm lately? Well, you’re in for a big surprise.
We’ve welcomed thousands of the hardest workers you’ll ever know… WORMS!
Thanks to the amazing and generous team from Worm Lovers, our farm is all set up to get these worms turning waste into nutritious compost – so we can grow delicious, fresh produce and work towards alleviating food insecurity.
But… with the worms’ arrival, has come really great questions. What do worms eat? What are their ideal working conditions? How do we keep them happy?
Well, here’s a snapshot of top five tips for healthy worm farms, inspired by our friends at Worm Lovers.
- A balanced diet: like us, worm diets need balance – approximately 40-50% nitrogen (that is, food scraps and green waste) matched by 50-60% of carbon (your collection of cardboard, paper and hay). Keep your spread nice and even, no more than 50mm thick and just give it a little sprinkle of water when needed.
- Not all scraps are created equal: the balanced diet for our little workers extends to the type of scraps we’re providing them. Worms love most fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, egg shells and even your tea bags. They can also enjoy lots of paper towels, tissues, egg cartons and other uncoated paper, along with your vacuum dust. However carbs and processed foods should be given in small moderation only. And be sure to avoid anything citrus and pineapple, onion, garlic or spicy as well as dairy, oils and meat (including fish).
- Keeping conditions cool: even worms struggle to work in the hot hot heat. It’s really important to keep your worm farm somewhere cool – these guys are shady characters at heart so avoid the sun at all costs. If you are in a hot area of Australia, a top tip from Worm Lovers is to keep a frozen water bottle ready-to-go and pop it in the top of the farm until temperatures drop down, and conditions are cooler.
- Let a little air in there: a critical part of worm farming is to ensure adequate amounts of oxygen within the waste. There are two key tricks to consider here. Firstly “fluffing” – is the term to describe a little turn of the soil, just the top two or three inches with a fork. The other tool is via cardboard and paper, adding this helps to ensure the feed layer is open and airy.
- Spot the signs: like the human body, if there’s something not quite right, there will be little signs and symptoms to look out for. To start with, the smell. Healthy worm farms will only smell like rich nutritious soil. If there’s any hint of acrid or rotting, it’s a clear sign that there is too much food and not enough carbon – so refer to the top air tip above to help balance this out. Pests are also another good thing to look out for. As a natural environment, you should expect to attract other little creatures but certain types can signal that something’s not quite right. For example, too many ants can mean your farm is too dry, and flies could mean too much food waste.
If in doubt, Worm Lovers have heaps of helpful information on their website, and lots of FAQs to help troubleshoot any signs.
We look forward to sharing more updates from our farms, so be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more insights and updates.