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Worm farming and composting is a good way for people to deal with food waste. As you’re probably aware, food waste is a massive issue we face today. An issue that has a great effect on the environment, global warming and climate change. Approximately 45% of household waste and 30% of all the waste we throw away is organic and compostable.

What is composting

For those who don’t know, composting is the process of recycling green waste and organic matter and turning it into compost. Once green waste has decomposed, it becomes compost and can then be added to other soil types as a fertiliser.

Why worm farming and composting

One third of all food produced is lost or wasted –around 1.3 billion tonnes of food –costing the global economy close to $940 billion each year. Over 5 million tonnes of food ends up as landfill, enough to fill 9,000 Olympic sized swimming pools.[1]

Composting helps reduce the amount of food waste that goes to landfills. This means a reduction of methane gas,  being release into earth’s atmosphere. Methane is considered a greenhouse gas and like carbon dioxide, contributes to global warming. More on methane gas here.

Worm farms are a practical way of reducing our landfill, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing our expenditure and turns waste into a natural resource that’s highly beneficial to the environment.

Worms are amazing little creatures. These little fertilisers work with the dirt to help sustain the life and fertility of our horticultural and agricultural systems. Worms dig and aerate the soil to help keep it healthy.

With a worm farm, worms can eat up to 3-4 kg of your kitchen waste every week. They then turn it into worm castings (rich plant food) and worm tea (liquid fertiliser) that can be used to improve the health of your garden.

Keeping a worm farm is a fun way to get the whole family involved in helping the environment and making your home more sustainable.

How to setup a worm farm at home

Setting up a worm farm at home is so simple that even the kids can do it. There are heaps of brands and types of worm farms on the market.

Worm farms can be purchased from most nursery’s or hardware stores, like Bunnings. One that we recommend here is worm farms from Tumbleweed, who have a range to suit many. The worm farms come complete with instructions for assemble and use, along with other helpful tips.

Points to consider

Choose a spot protected from direct sunlight. A spot with either shade of a tree or on a balcony or verandah. A garage is also a good area.

Beware of hot days, worms need to be kept moist, not wet as they breath through their skin.

The greater the variety of material you use, the better the casting will be. Every time you add food to your work farm, remember to sprinkle over a handful of soil from your garden. The worms will use the grit in the soil to help grind up the fresh food waste. If any smells are noticed, you can add a sprinkle of bicarbonate soda to help deodorise the smell.

Foods they Love

  • Coffee grinds and tea bags
  • Fruits and vegetables scraps
  • egg shells
  • paper
  • Weeds and green waste
  • Small amounts of grass (not too much as grass builds up heat)
  • Bread in small amounts (too much can attract mites)

It’s better to put small pieces of food so it’s easy for the worms to break down.

Foods to avoid

  • Acidic citrus
  • Garlic and onion
  • Large amounts of meat and fish
  • Too much of fats/oils
  • Large amount of diary

Although, small amounts of meat and dairy is not a huge problem but it’s generally nest to avoid them as worm farms may become putrid.

Troubleshooting on the worm farm

Too much vinegar flies – too much wet waste. Your worm farm becomes too acidic so add some paper or other dry items.

Worm farm smells – too acidic or not breaking down fast enough. Don’t overfeed the worm farms. You can add less food another worm farm to help. Sprinkle a bit of bicarb soda to help with smells.

Unwelcome visitors – always cover your scraps with hessian sack or newspaper to stop unwelcome pest like rats and mice. If ants is a problem, your farm might be too dry. Add a bit of water if this is the case.

Other worm farm guest – you might find slaters, earwigs, mites, solider fly larvae and other micro ogranisms in the worm farm and that’s ok. If you population of mites gets out of hand, add a sprinkle of lime to correct acidity or a slice of melon, wait for them to cover it and remove to bury in the garden.

Points to Remember

Last but not least when in doubt, remember to follow the A.D.A.M principles,

  • A – aliveness – compost is a living ecosystem full of worms & healthy microbes
  • D – diversity – mix in a variety of materials for a a diverse range of nutrients, minerals and microbes
  • A – aeration – compost needs air to stay alive so aerate your compost regularly, with a spiral mixing tool
  • M -moisture – keep compost moist at all times as a dry compost can not decompose

For more tips on composting, visit our post on Composting Tips – How to Setup Your Own Compost.

A big thank you to Central Coast Council and the Love Food Hate Waste program for conducting great workshops and providing us with helpful guides on composting and worm farming.