Gardening guru Claire Mummery answers all the why's and how's of worm farming.
What's missing from your kitchen?
Worms! Home composting not only reduces the food waste dumped in landfill, it creates the most magical by-products to supercharge your garden. The easiest way to compost at home is with a worm farm.
Why have a worm farm?
For the busy person with limited space, a worm farm requires minimum effort and knowledge, and hardly ever needs emptying. It's also a great way to get kids into composting!
It processes all your food scraps into vermicast with no odour. The vermicast can be used as a wonder plant food, which boosts healthy bacteria and conditions the soil.
Another magical by-product is worm juice, which can be extracted via a tap and watered onto any plants, including house plants, acting as a fantastic fertiliser and rescue remedy.
What can I feed my worms?
Worm farms use tiger worms, which are very different to earthworms. They are omnivores, which means they eat meat, veggies and other food waste, PLUS napkins, kitchen and toilet paper.
There are certain foods to avoid - including citrus, onion skins and kiwifruit, due to their high acidity. I also suggest avoiding fats and oils, which suffocate the worms; as well as shells and fish bones, which break down too slowly and can be a nuisance when added to the garden.
Top tip: Worms will process food scraps a lot quicker if they are cut up into small pieces.
How do I get started?
A box of 1,000 worms is ideal to start your farm and, in optimum conditions, they reproduce every 40 days, so their population can double in around a month.
To set up your worm farm, put a layer of shredded, moistened cardboard or compost on the bottom, where the worms will lay their eggs and live. Do not push this down, as the air spaces are more desirable for the worms than a compact layer.
After adding your food, cover with damp cardboard before you add the lid to provide a cool, dark environment and encourage the worms to work all layers of the food.
Worm farms are best kept in the shade, but not in the cold so, if you live in an area that drops below 5 degrees, either wrap it in carpet or put it in the shed for winter.
How do I keep my farm healthy?
The key to success is to maintain an environment that is not too soggy, and not too dry. Correct this by adding dried, shredded paper when soggy, or soaked paper when overly dry.
Once established, add two tablespoons of molasses diluted in a little water to feed the beneficial bacteria in your worm farm and supercharge its efficiency.
Regularly add crushed egg shells to boost calcium, increasing worm activity and reproduction.
Worm farms can also be kept alive if you go on holiday by adding a well-rotted bag of horse manure.
Remember, there is no need to throw food into landfill. Get started with a worm farm and enjoy the wonderful goodness it produces!
Find out more about Claire Mummery's Grow Inspired Academy at growinspiredacademy.com or follow her on Facebook @growinspiredwithclairemummery or Instagram @grow.inspired.