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Worm Farm and Eco System

Janette purchased her worm farm online. She is using it to produce compost and worm tea for her garden and flowers.

She started the worm farm in 2013. She keeps it in her garage. During the winter she had some cardboard around it to help to insulate it. The worm farm does best in temperatures from 60 degrees to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It needs to be kept in a cool dry covered area. It should never be kept in the rain or direct sunlight. The worm farm also needs to be kept in an area with good ventilation as the movement of oxygen through the worm bedding is essential.

The worms that are used in her worm farm are Red Wigglers. They are not common earthworms, which are very hard to raise because they burrow deep into the ground. Red Wigglers do not need the depth that earthworms do. They live and feed within a few inches of the ground surface. They also make excellent worms for fishing as they do not die in the water but can stay alive and wiggling for several days.

The worm farm that she purchased (UncleJimsWormFarm) came with the farm and complete instructions for setting it up and preparing it for the worms. About a week later the worms were shipped from the same source and were ready for her to start farming them.

In addition to using the worm farm to produce nutrient rich compost, she is also using various items in her raised beds to help to break up the soil and make them more productive.

Composting

To view a larger image click on the picture.

Compost Result

This is a picture of the compost that is a result of the worm farm. This will be used when tomatoes etc. are planted in the garden beds. As it becomes ready she stores it in a 5 gallon plastic bucket.

Worm Farm Lid

Worm Farm Lid. This provides basic information for maintaining the worm farm. Additional information came with the worm farm in a manual.

Assembled Worm Farm

Assembled worm farm. The worm farm is tiered with different trays these trays are rotated as the worm farm progresses through its process. This photo shows the assembled worm farm with the attached spigot.

Worm Farm Newspaper Layers

When the lid is removed you see several layers of newspaper just under the lid. This helps to insulate and hold the moisture in the worm farm.

Another view Newspapers in Worm Farm

The newspaper needs to be sprayed regularly to keep it moist. The worms need air and moisture. It should not be so wet that they drown but it should not become dry either.

Top Tier under Newspapers

Under the newspaper is the top tier, or working tray, which is the newest to begin the compost process. You can see some of the items that have been added to this. (See Food Sources, at bottom of notes, for information) Janette said some people run their table scraps through a food processer to make them smaller and easier for the worms to digest. Janette has added some of her rabbit manure to this layer to experiment with it. She did learn that rabbit manure is quite salty and may not be good for the worms so she is not sure if she will use it again. The working tray is the only tray that has food added to it.

Worm From Top Tier

This is a worm that was lifted from tier one, or the working tray. The bottom portion is dehydrated. This may be from the rabbit manure.

Another Worm from Tier One

This is another worm lifted from tier one, or the working tray. It appears much healthier.

Worms on Tier 2

This is a view of tier 2, or a processing tray. It shows more of the composting that is taking place. To form the layers for composting, Janette has used egg shells, apple cores, shredded newspaper, shredded cardboard, dead leaves, carrot peelings, potato peelings and old grass clippings (never use new clippings, they make the worms bedding too hot). This is more decomposed than tier 1, the working tray. It also shows more healthy worms.

Tier 3 view

In tier 3, the bottom processing tray, were these very large healthy worms under a piece of decomposing pumpkin,. As soon as she uncovered them they began burrowing under the other compost. They do not like the light.

Empty Worm Farm Tray

This shows an empty tray. The worms were removed from the bottom processing tray compost (tier 3) and placed in the top processing tray. The worms may continue through the holes and go to a lower tier. The compost has been placed in a container for future use. This tray will now be prepared and become tier 1, or the working tray, to begin the compost process again. As each bottom tier, or bottom processing tray, becomes ready the rotating will continue.

Produce Worm Tea

To get the worm tea, you remove the upper tiers and gently pour water over the bottom tier.

Water collects at bottom

The water drains through the bottom tier and collects in the reservoir at the bottom of the worm farm.

Drain From Spigot

When there is enough water in the reservoir, you turn on the spigot and collect the worm tea in a container.

Use the worm tea on plants

This worm tea can then be used to water your flowers, vegetable etc. It is loaded with nutrients for your plants.

FEEDING GUIDELINES

Add more food only if the worms are actively involved in the food waste already present. Avoid overfeeding. Feed your worms a balanced diet of 50% kitchen scraps and 50% fiber. Always place new food in the working tray, under the layer of moist newspaper beneath the plastic lid.

FOOD SOURCES FOR WORMS

Provided by the Washington State University Extension Service

  • Paper Products: Magazines, cardboard, dryer lint, paper egg cartons, vacuum dust, Kleenex, napkins, paper towels, coffee filters with grounds, tea bags, paper bags and junk mail
  • Fruit: Melon, banana, pineapple, apple, grapes, peaches, plums, berries, and baker’s yeast.
  • Grain-Based Foods: Breads, oatmeal, muffins, cereal, pasta, rice, pizza crust (without any toppings).
    NOTE: Use grain-based food sparingly. Excessive use can cause your Worm Box to overheat.
  • Garden Trimmings: Dead Flowers, dead disease-free plants, dried leaves gathered in the fall.
  • Vegetables: Corn, broccoli, cabbage, onions, beans, tomatoes, squash, carrots, peas, cooked potatoes, green salad (without dressing).

Resources and Support

For additional resources and support visit: www.naturesfootprint.com/community