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Australian and New Zealand Gardening: Worm Farms

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Seachanger

Seachanger
Clifton Springs
Australia

June 30, 2011
6:30 PM

Post #8665107

This is my worm farm which will be 22 yrs old next Christmas...It was purchased from the Council for about $50 complete with a container of worms and the instructions.
It took about 6 months to start producing the worm juice and I left the trays intact with the worm castings for a couple of years, before I started to take some for the pots/special garden plants.
Every year since then I have worm juice on tap and worm castings to top up a pot or spoil a special plant.

As you can see it's up on a crate...to save my back, when I feed all the worms or lift a tray.

Thumbnail by Seachanger
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Seachanger

Seachanger
Clifton Springs
Australia

June 30, 2011
6:42 PM

Post #8665138

They eat just about anything that's grows...vegetables, flowers, fruit, then when it looks a bit wet..I put a layer of shredded newspaper or hay on the top..
They also love tea bags and dust from the vacuum cleaner, pet hair...

I never put meat, dairy, bread or onions in their house...They would probably eat it but I'm sure it would encourage rats/mice too.

This is the top layer...

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Seachanger

Seachanger
Clifton Springs
Australia

June 30, 2011
6:46 PM

Post #8665147

These are the residents going about their work..I had to lift off some of the food and they weren't very happy...

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Seachanger

Seachanger
Clifton Springs
Australia

June 30, 2011
7:00 PM

Post #8665169

The 2nd layer is full of castings, when I pour water into it, the water drains thru and out of the tap on the side.

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Seachanger

Seachanger
Clifton Springs
Australia

June 30, 2011
7:11 PM

Post #8665194

The 3rd and 4th layers are the ones that I use to take the worm castings...though I rotate the trays as I use them and there is always one tray full of castings...

This is the result, a light fluffy compost, no odour and good for everything.

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Seachanger

Seachanger
Clifton Springs
Australia

June 30, 2011
7:35 PM

Post #8665246

The 4th tray at the moment, I am using to fill bottles worm juice...I usually fill about a dozen at a time..
That tray has had the castings removed so I wash it down with water and fill the bottles..
The tap on the side has long since stopped working so I plug it until I want to make more juice.

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Seachanger

Seachanger
Clifton Springs
Australia

June 30, 2011
7:40 PM

Post #8665252

The worm juice waiting to be bottled...

I have to make sure that the farm is covered in the hot weather by shadecloth...I almost lost them one year...the tree that they were under didn't give them enough cover...

Notice the bucket, it's as old as the farm...

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Seachanger

Seachanger
Clifton Springs
Australia

June 30, 2011
7:50 PM

Post #8665269

Some of the bottles that I just filled...Weak tea is the desired strength...it varies a bit though.

So it's just a matter of feeding them, keeping their conditions to their liking and a sprinkle of lime a couple of times a year...it gives you, never ending worm juice and the best compost ever...

I do have a compost bin as well, but I wouldn't be without my worm farm.

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DawnSong
Brisbane
Australia

June 30, 2011
8:25 PM

Post #8665357

Something I've never tried, because I don't have scraps to feed them. Being on my own (mostly) there's very little cooking done here.

My neighbour had a worm farm for a while, but I think she said the toads killed the worms. I might have got that wrong.

Karen

chrissy100

chrissy100
Sydney
Australia

July 1, 2011
12:03 AM

Post #8665547

That's lovely Dianne I started one when I first moved here, but the Grandchildren and other things happened that meant I could no longer care for it so I let the worms loose under a lasagne (no dig garden) despite people saying they won't live in the garden (being special worms) but when I had a peep in the Spring that earth beneath was just about edible and full of lovely fat worms.
I think the worms do so much for our garden ...they have turned my little secret garden into a huge jungle, the plants and trees get a bit excited in that rich earth.
In the built up gardens the worms mix my river sand up with dead leaves and manure and cause the red clay to become something almost magical.
I had mine set up in an old bathtub it worked very well.
Gotta love those worms :)
Your worm farm is the reason your lovely plants are thriving ...fantastic. Plus your green thumb of course.


This message was edited Jul 1, 2011 6:04 PM

Seachanger

Seachanger
Clifton Springs
Australia

July 1, 2011
12:38 AM

Post #8665565

I've seen them on TV, Chrissy using the bathtub method and as you said it's works well...
I think that they can survive in the ground too...as long as they have the right conditions such as your lasagne garden...I can imagine how fertile that soil is...
There was a program a few years ago about the benefits of putting earthworms into pasture in bulk numbers thus enabling them to build up the soil into a very friable mix...the farmer who was trying it, was raving over his results...but like everything else the story drops off the radar and we don't know what happened...
77sunset
Merino
Australia

July 1, 2011
3:51 PM

Post #8666799

Been there , done that.
Over the years , I have had a few worm farms. They do well for a while then just give up. It may be the type of worms sold around here.
I found that they used to all climb right down into the base and when I looked, there were always heaps of worms in the liquid.
They had adequate food etc and were out of the weather. I tried a couple of different farms and the same thing happened each time so I blame the type of worms. Suicide prone, I think.
A great pity because , I like worm farms. It also may get too cold here for too long .
Cant have chooks to eat the scraps either. The foxes get them all.
Jean.
gardengal
se qld
Australia

July 3, 2011
1:42 PM

Post #8670026

I'd love to have some chooks, but can't for the same reason, Jean - a total waste of time with the foxes.

When we had our worm farm operating we always found worms in the liquid too. I've read somewhere that you need to put an upturned yoghurt cup or similar in the bottom tray to give them something to climb back up on. Haven't tried it to know though. I've been wanting to set it back up again, but can't bring myself to pay the exhorbitant prices charged around here. Given that Bunnings is also about the only place that sells them here too, it worries me that with the high temperatures it reaches in the shop at times that the worms may not be as healthy as they should be. It's a lot of money to pay for semi cooked worms.

When we originally set it up we were not aware that they had to be compost worms, so filled it with earth worms out of the garden, and they actually did a fairly good job.

Pam

Seachanger

Seachanger
Clifton Springs
Australia

July 3, 2011
3:54 PM

Post #8670240

The worms do wander down to the bottom shelf and go for a swim, goodness knows why...
You can barely see one of the seedling trays put there so they don't drown, normally the trays aren't covered by the water, but because I was washing out the sides of the tray they were covered.

The heat in the shop wouldn't be a problem, Pam...it's only if they are in direct sunlight and the temperature is very high for a couple of days..

I have seen some very good homemade ones online...

This message was edited Jul 4, 2011 9:55 AM
77sunset
Merino
Australia

July 3, 2011
4:07 PM

Post #8670277

Dianne, it wasnt just a few worms going down into the bottom, it was nearly all and they would do it again after I moved them back. Even putting something in for them to climb back up, didnt work. Definitely suicidal worms. They were not eating what I put in so it was going mouldy. I just gave up, not worth the bother.
I have a feeling that they were not a good type of worm , but there is only the one place here that sells them. I have tried various shapes of farms but the worms did the same thing in each.
I ended up selling the darn thing and tossing the worms into the garden.
It was very disappointing as I would like to have had a good one going. .
Jean.

Seachanger

Seachanger
Clifton Springs
Australia

July 4, 2011
1:08 AM

Post #8670935

That makes me laugh Jean...Suicidal worms...
If you decide to give it another go one day, I will supply the worms...not personally though.
I started with a small container...the population fluctuates but as long as the top tray
has plenty of food, it is usually full of worms...they regulate themselves...no pills in there...
Dianne
77sunset
Merino
Australia

July 4, 2011
2:44 PM

Post #8672102

Dianne. I think my worms may have been crossbred lemmings. Either that or they just liked swimming. Even with something to climb on out of the water, they stayed there. I think I can do without them.
Hubby has a lot of patience with me and my zillion plants but I think another try with worms would not be popular after the way I did a lot of swearing at the darn things before. .
Jean.
dalfyre
Christchurch
New Zealand

July 31, 2011
2:28 PM

Post #8727952

lots of dog folk rave about their tiger worms for disposing of doggy doo...
you have to remember not to put any in after worming the dog though!
They also eat all the scraps & love pet hair and people hair too.
One of my friends had a worm farm & always asked us to bring her the hair if we had it cut - she was asked why & replied that the worms used it as a pull through.

Seachanger

Seachanger
Clifton Springs
Australia

July 31, 2011
3:12 PM

Post #8728065

Teresa, I've heard that the farms are used for that purpose...but you would have to have a very, very large one even for a small dog...or else yuk.
I can get the worm casting on my hands, because it's so clean...but even though the worms do an excellent job..I would be hesitant with dog droppings in there...
dalfyre
Christchurch
New Zealand

July 31, 2011
8:23 PM

Post #8728701

I think it is the Tiger worms that make the difference - once they do their thing the dog 'manure' is converted into a product good for the ornamental garden...
most of the sites I have looked at suggest not using it on a vegie garden.
http://rantrex.net/?p=313
interesting blog entry on the topic

and link to an Aussie site...
http://www.kookaburrawormfarms.com.au/index.aspx?page=2

Seachanger

Seachanger
Clifton Springs
Australia

July 31, 2011
11:01 PM

Post #8728885

I have the Tigers, started off with a small pot of about 250, goodness knows how many are in there now...but as I said before, they never over populate their bins...

Interesting sites, but I still prefer no doggie doos in my castings.

This is a good product for anyone who needs one

http://www.dogdoo.com.au/

This message was edited Aug 1, 2011 5:27 PM
dalfyre
Christchurch
New Zealand

August 1, 2011
1:31 AM

Post #8728935

dog 'toilets' like this have been around for a long time, 12 years ago when I moved in to this place I asked the city council about them - they didn't want them in use as they were concerned about the potential for aquifer contamination.
ChCh water is extremely pure & comes from underground.
It was heart breaking for us to have chlorine added after the earthquakes but with the pumping stations damaged & raw sewage floods in places it was essential.
I am so lucky that Redwood where I live they have an undamaged system so we no longer have chlorinated water.
I can drink it straight from the tap, yet just down the road where I work the water is vile...
we have to serve bottled water to customers.
I fill a water bottle to take to work so I can drink without having to worry about the quality.

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