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Worm farms

    90 responses

russ starts with ...
Hi, I'm thinking of starting a worm farm as an alternative to composting. I would like to hear about the experiences people have had with worm farms - good or bad.
I am thinking of copying Josh from gardening australia and building one from an old bath tub set into a wooden surround with a split lid, which can then double as a work bench or table.
My only concern is about whether it is a good idea to have a worm farm next to the house and whether it will be a bit too smelly!
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Russ
Perth NOR
14th July 2009 12:09am
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Steven says...
Hi Russ how are you.

If you want a worm farm i would suggest for convenience to buy a properly made one . A proper designed and used worm farm shouldnt make any smell at all as there is enough ventilation to allow enough oxygen into the system. I own a Reln worm farm and personally a prefer it to a makeshift one that i was thinking of making. I also has a tap at the bottom allowing the excess water to filter off and collected which is an excellent liquid fertilizer.

A worm farm however shouldnt be confused with a traditional compost bin, it isnt designed to work like a compost bin where bacteria do most of the composting even with plenty of worms present. Its designed to compost soft waste i.e potato peels, lettuce, fruit, vegetables etc. where a compost bin is designed to work with hard waste such as grass clippings etc, as well as soft waste. Also a worm farm is made to produce garden fertilize, which is one of the best fertilizers you can get. whereas a compost bin will produce compost which is quite fertile but not a fertilizer and best used as mulch in something such as your vegetable garden. I wouldnt suggest using it as an alternative to composting i would suggest having both systems.

remember though, no compost system should smell if its properly maintained, if it smells bad it means there is a lack of oxygen in there and you need to rotate it. A worm farm though is very clean and odourless, worms naturally kill pathogens in their food. usually my worm farm smells like rich soil rather than compost.

Regards

Steven
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Steven
Eastern Melbourne
14th July 2009 9:46am
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russ says...
Hi Steven, thanks for your response. A lot to think about there.
Cheers, Russ.
Anyone else have any comments?
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Russ
Perth NOR
14th July 2009 7:48pm
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amanda says...
Hi Russ..friends of mine use fridge/freezers they salvaged from the tip...they put a drain pipe in and a bucket under that, then crock the lid open a little. Works fine for them (but a bit ugly if u dont have places to hide them!)
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amanda19
geraldton.WA
14th July 2009 7:56pm
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Julie says...
The only time I had a problem with a worm farm was a commercially bought one - probably a Reln. It just got too hot in summer, even under shade cloth, and the worms died. Then it smelt awful!

I also got fed up with picking out the worms each time I changed the sections. I changed to a large, home made worm farm made with cement slabs, where the worms circulated round a block in the middle (hard to describe).

By the time they got round to the first section it was free of worms and ready to use.

I know someone who collects old fridges and makes them into worm farms to sell. Great idea!

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Roleystone WA
15th July 2009 7:32pm
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amanda says...
Julie - I think u are onto something there...I am thinking the commercial one's are too small (hence heat up very quickly due to high surface area to volume ratio) and it's made worse by them being dark colours (mine black).

There is no-where cool 4 them to escape to and if u add a high carbon source to the system it starts to work alot like hot aerobic compost (eg: I don't add chook pellets on warm weather as the system cooks)

Just a thought..?
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amanda19
geraldton.WA
16th July 2009 9:59pm
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russ says...
I think i have been convinced to make my bathtub worm farm. Also a colleague at work has said that he will provide start up worms from his farm.
I will be off to the tip at the weekend in an attempt to pick up a tub and some wood. How exciting!
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Russ
Perth NOR
16th July 2009 10:30pm
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amanda says...
Go for it Russ! It will work fine. For what it's worth - the "can o worms" recommends not too much food to start with (or it will go manky due to low worm numbers) and the "bedding agent" they recommend - a block of coco-peat (u can get from bunnings) - they love it.

The high carbon source works well in winter as it warms up the bed and all the eggs hatch n the worms stay active -my farm is so overloaded (in winter...) that I have had to take worms out! I use a baby-chick-starter food (u can get from city farmers etc) it's cheap as and I only use a cupla handfulls now n then.

If u have a food processor for fruit n veg scraps use it now n then - they get bigger n fatter if the material is already "bite sized". Big n fat = more breeders more quickly.

It's daggy - but I love my worms! ;)
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amanda19
geraldton.WA
16th July 2009 10:55pm
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amanda says...
PS Russ - I have big galvanised rainwater tanks cut in half - full of horse stable manure out in the sun all day - every day (covered with carpet in summer) and I do absolutely nothing for them (apart from a bit of H2O now n then when dry) and they are fine.
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amanda19
geraldton.WA
16th July 2009 10:59pm
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Julie says...
I forgot to say the bought worm farm was really too small, even when the worm numbers built up. I live alone, but even scraps from one person was too much food at a time.

So I never got an awful lot of worm castings. The bigger one worked much better, and was easier to keep cool. It also gave the worms more places to escape to if the food got a bit too warm.
I just covered it with old carpet in summer, then plastic over that in winter - to stop too much rain getting in.
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Roleystone WA
17th July 2009 5:56pm
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Steven says...
Hi Everyone

I still think it would be best to buy a worm farm rather than making one. like i said earlier a worm farm is designed to produce fertilizer not compost and if you overfeed the worms you wont end up with fertilizer but rather it will just be compost like it would in a compost bin. The left over food scraps should be put into a compost bin.

A worm farm is also designed to be used only for soft waste so you shouldnt be putting so much high carbon waste such as grass clippings or leaves for bacteria to build up the temperature. Also your supposed to only put small amounts of food in them at a time (enough to feed the worms for a few days to a week) and thats proportional to the amount of worms in the farm not the size of the worm farm.

It also needs ventilation to work properly so that needs to be incorporated into the design.

Another thing you dont need to pick the worms out of the finished containers, you place the second container into the first and once thats full with compost all the worms would have migrated into the second container, any eggs in the first would have hatched and everything would be very well broken down.

One last thing if it gets too hot all you have to do it bring the worm farm inside. Say in your garage. I leave mine outside under some shelter from the rain and when it gets too hot outside i just put in it the garage.

Once the system is up and running (after a few months) you end up with more than enough fertilizer for your garden. any remaining food scraps should be put into a conventional compost bin along with your grass clippings, leaves, sticks etc and broken down and used as mulch.

Regards

Steven
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Steven
Eastern Melbourne
17th July 2009 6:31pm
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russ says...
Steven, I probably should have been clearer about the worm farm v compost thing.

I am aware that they are not straight replacements. The problem with the compost bin is that the only things i have to put in it are lawn clippings and kitchen scraps - so i wasn't making great compost. I also don't have a good place to put a compost bin.

Regarding the overheating of a worm farm. I had already earmarked a place for the worm farm under the eves of the house next to the back door. This is on the west side and is well shaded. My only real concern about was any possible smell being so close to the house. You have convinced me that if i am managing the farm well then i will not have to worry about the smell.

I am not sure if you have seen the gardening australia episode where Josh shows his worm farm, but the design has a split (stable door style) lid where he places the food in alternate sides, allowing him to use the other vermicompost when the worms migrate to the other side containing food. I am of the opinion that this will proably work enough for me.

My only concern regards the worm castings which i hope will sink to the bottom and then run down the plug hole where i will catch them with a bottle or some other means of catching it.
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Russ
Perth NOR
17th July 2009 10:30pm
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amanda says...
Hi Russ...that would be the "worm wee" (as my 5yr old calls it!) that u are collecting in the bottle?

Sometimes it's hard to get the worms to move - u can try leaving the lid open - the worms will move down away from light - and u can take the top layer of castings off - just keep doing this until worms concentrated at bottom and then put them in the new side.

The recipie from can o worms for fattening is:

chicken layer pellets 50%
Wheat or cornflour 10%
Powdered milk 10%
Bran or wheat meal 20%
agricultural lime or dolomite 10%

(I just use the small granulated chick feed. The recipie works but I am too busy to muck around with it..the lime will help with any odours due to acidity). Compost flies can be a pain as they come thru flywire..if u get loads check your pH..they are not called "vinegar" flies for nothing!
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amanda19
Geraldton.WA
18th July 2009 10:27am
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Steven says...
Hi Russ how are you.

In that case then you could just use it as a regular composter which would work perfectly fine. I tried looking up the one you mentioned but couldnt find it. But i thought id mention a simple way (which you may have already thought of) to separate the worms from your compost would be to make one or two dividers (out of wood or plastic) and divide the bath tub into sections with a small gap at the bottom to allow the 'compost tea' to flow and a few dozen holes in the dividers so that the worms can get through and just fill one section up at a time and once that section is full and nicely composted move onto the next. Another good way to get the worms to the top of the compost that you may already know is to put moist newspaper over the top of the compost which keeps the top moist and dark that way the worms eat everything evenly they will even eat the newspaper.

Regards

Steven
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Steven
Eastern Melbourne
21st July 2009 7:29pm
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amanda says...
Hi Russ n Steven .. the other thing u can use to attract worms to where u want them is watermelon (as told to me by a worm farmer)..it works a treat!

Good ideas Steven :)
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amanda19
Geraldton. WA
21st July 2009 8:56pm
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russ says...
Hi Steven, I really like the idea with the dividers. I will be incorporating that in for sure. I will be trying to find the link to the episode i refer before i build, but it may take some time. When i find out i will post it on here.

Amanda - Thanks for the watermelon tip. I don't eat as much watermelon as i probably should, but i guess i better start for the worms sake.
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Russ
Perth NOR
22nd July 2009 3:05pm
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Julie says...
The dividers is what I was trying to describe, but hard to put into words. I really need a diagram! I divided mine into about four sections, then removed one to let them move into the next section.

As I said, by the time they got around to the first section again, this was pure castings with no eggs or worms.
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Roleystone WA
22nd July 2009 3:32pm
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russ says...
Just thinking about worms or eggs ending up in the soil/castings you want to use in the garden. Is there any harm with having some worms ending up in your vegie patch etc. Will the worms survive in normal ground in perth? Also, would they harm veggies in a veggie patch?
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Russ
Perth NOR
23rd July 2009 12:34am
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Lisa says...
I have often wondered the same thing russ
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Lisa
Blue Mountains NSW
23rd July 2009 9:56am
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Julie says...
No, they wouldn't harm vegies, they only eat decomposing material, not live plants or seeds. If they did, nothing would ever grow! The reason I separated the worms was to keep the numbers up in the worm farm.

They will only live in the upper layers of your bed, and in summer that might get too hot for them. The sort of worms you use in a worm farm are not earthworms, which go quite deep, and live in soil, not manure or compost.

Deep mulching will keep the soil cooler.
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Roleystone WA
23rd July 2009 10:58am
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Steven says...
HI Russ. Im glad you like my idea. Wood i would imagine would be the best however make sure its a good hardy wood that wont decompose very easily because the worms and bacteria etc would eat the wood (but it would be their last preference)

I agree with Julie. worms in the compost are little worms compared to earth worms, they wont really survive very well in a typical vegetable garden as naturally they would only live in decomposing matter on the bottom of a forest floor. But if you kept lots of mulch etc it would help. But earthworms are better for the garden anyway.

By the way. once i put an old watermelon in my worm farm and the next day the whole thing was absolutely packed with worms, in a few days they are everythign except the thin green skin so that theory is definitely confirmed!!

good luck

Steven
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Steven
Eastern Melbourne
23rd July 2009 9:42pm
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Itdepends says...
Most of the worms in my worm farm (can of worms) came from my vege garden- but I've been raising the beds the last year or so and add lots of mulch (straw) and manures. I did go out and buy a booster pack of worms as well- but they looked the same as the ones I had already (taken out of the broken down manure/straw- I had a fun afternoon with the girls collecting and counting out our first 1000 starter worms)

No smell by the way- ours is under the patio directly outside our kitchen door.

Cheers,

Daniel
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Itdepends2
 
26th July 2009 1:16pm
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snottiegobble says...
Based on Josh`s idea of using an old fridge here is my updated worm farm.
It has a plate rack as a base support & aluminium flyscreen mesh as container.i have installed a gate valve tap at the front base for worm juice so the fridge is tilted slightly forward. In front of where the motor was( back of the fridge) there is a built in shelf which I will use for tools,( trowel,hand shovel etc. I have removed the seal on the door closest to opening side to ensure ventilation. photos show completed ends of fridge then worm compost at one end.
Pictures - Click to enlarge

Picture: 1
  
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snottiegobble
Bunbury/Busso (smack in the middle)
30th December 2010 2:25am
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snottiegobble says...
Dont know why we only got one photo, but heres the finished farm before presenting the worms to it.
Pictures - Click to enlarge

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snottiegobble
Bunbury/Busso (smack in the middle)
30th December 2010 2:34am
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Emery says...
A while back, I looked into a worm farm system located in Racine, Wisconsin called UNCO, Inc. I liked the idea of what I could find out, but to get the whole story you have to buy the system and it is VERY expensive. Does anyone know of this company or anything about how their system works?
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Emery
Hendersonville, NC
11th August 2011 5:57am
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Julie says...
I had a look at the website. Sounds very like systems that people got involved in several years ago in Perth. A lot of money was lost, as there just wasn't enough demand for the worms.

There may be a bigger demand in the US, where fishermen buy worms, but I think it's a bit different here. If you only want worms for your own garden, I'd stick to some of the ideas in this thread.

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Julie
Roleystone WA
12th August 2011 12:31am
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Wazzbat says...
I started my worm farm about a year ago. It is a retained garden bed about 600mm high by about 500mm wide and about 3m long. It was about half full with a mix of left over yellow sand and some very bland/old black sand.

I filled it with a mix of manure, but mainly cow poop, then added 1000 worms and topped it off with shredded newspaper and sugar cane mulch. The mulch doesn't last long.

We throw all our food scraps in there and they demolish the lot. I check them now and again and the soil is very very rich and I dug some out recently to use around some trees I planted.

I have also picked out and moved some worms into my garden beds where they are also doing well now. They are spreading everywhere. I think the secret ingredient is the sugar cane mulch. That is what they are surviving on in my garden beds. Only problem is the mulch lasts half as long as it should but that's a small price to pay for a self fertilizing garden! And no they are not normal earth worms although I do have some of them in other areas.

I also have worms working for me on my lawns now too! Not sure whether they are normal earth worms or the composting ones though cause I don't get to see them?

I think everyone should have a worm farm. I love sticking my hand in the rich black fertile soil/castings they produce! You just know your plants will do well growing in that kind of soil.
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Wazzbat
Vic Park WA
13th August 2011 7:14am
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Emery says...
It would be nice to actually meet someone who has had experience with UNCO. I would like to hear someone vouch for their integrity.
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Emery
Hendersonville, NC
14th August 2011 2:35am
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snottiegobble says...
Good on ya Wazzbat! Yes we have to add a lot of organics to our soily sands in the West, but unlike gardeners in some regions we dont break our backs digging the stuff, in fact its quite a pleasure!
I have found that horse manure is most attractive to both native earth worms & the compost worms. Even when reasonably fresh it seems to cool & become quite habitable for them much earlier than other manures.
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snottiegobble
Bunbury/Busso (smackin the middle)
15th August 2011 1:12am
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John says...
Hi Everyone,
I'm thinking of building a worm farm and I have a couple of questions you good people will be able to help me with. What I had in mind was a three tiered wooden farm. Firstly, how deep should each of the boxes be, and what diameter? Next, can I put a reasonably fine wire mesh in the bottom of each box instead of wood with holes in it?
That'll do for now. Thanks for your help.
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John48
North East Victoria
18th October 2011 2:55pm
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snottiegobble says...
Hi John, as long as you have air movement top & bottom,a place for the juice to collect below the compost, & a cool place during the warmer months your worms will be happy! 3 tiers are really only for small units! I use an old fridge with a suspended floor of heavy gauge metal flywire. I pile up the compost on one side & then when it is high I start at the other side using some of the mix containing worms to seed the new pile.
By not watering & feeding the old pile the remaining worms will migrate to the new pile over time. Dont make the mistake I did by leaving tomato, capsicum,eggplant & pumpkin seeds in the the kitchen scraps cause now I have seedlings coming up everywhere I have used the worm compost! Use an old hessian sack or carpet to cover the current heap even if you have a lid on your container.
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snottiegobble
Bunbury/Busso (smackin the middle)
19th October 2011 12:22am
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John says...
Hi Snottiegobble,
Thanks for the reply. The old fridge idea sounds good. I might see if I can rustle one up. As you say, I'd end up with a lot more compost. Thanks again for your help.
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John48
North East Victoria
19th October 2011 10:05am
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amanda says...
Hi John - a friend of mine uses old fridges from the tip also...he just drills a drainage hole (to collect the juices) and sets them on an angle so they drain. He puts sacking on top and crocks the doors slighty open.
He also has a divider like SG.
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amanda19
Geraldton. Mide West WA.
19th October 2011 10:15am
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Stella says...
Hello Russ,
My first worm farm was an old fridge which worked reasonably well. Never had dividers so it was hard to clean out!. I now have two commercial farms bought from the local council.
Being the lazy gardener I am, when I clean out the bottom tray, I just scoop any large clusters of worms still in there and put in the top tray. Any still left in the castings then goes into the garden!
The only food mine get are kitchen scraps, sometimes dry leaves that have fallen off the plants and a covering of newspaper.
I have the worms at the side of the shed with a trellis over them. Summer time the grape vines and a bit of shade cloth covers them so no problem with heat.
No problems with smells.
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Stella1
Two Rocks WA
19th October 2011 1:48pm
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amanda says...
A great way to attract big handfuls of worms (for transfer etc) is to put a big hunk of watermelon in a handy spot in the farm, just under the soil - come back the next day and u should have loads all over it :)
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amanda19
Geraldton. Mide West WA.
19th October 2011 8:13pm
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Diddy FitzGerald says...
Amazing that your worm farms dont smell! Mine's in the shed out the back, keeps it cool and the smell doesnt matter. But there is definitely a smell, one you would notice in a smaller area dwelling.
I noticed that a few people have pondered the implications of the worms getting on the loose. Are these worms native to Australia, does anyone know?
My worm farm was becoming a mass of pink spaghetti, so i put some in the compost bin. Now it is a bottomless pit into which i have stuffed quantities of garden waste and it never gets full.
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Diddy FitzGerald
2756 NSW
5th February 2012 9:15am
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snottiegobble says...
Diddy, the compost worms are definately not Australians, in fact most of our garden earth worms are not either! I can only think of 2 that are, & they are scrubworms & the giant earthworms in Gippsland, Vic!
Our compost worms mainly consist of 'Red Wrigglers, blues, & tigerworms. The wrigglers & blues love horse & cow manure, & the evil smelling tigerworms thrive in Pig manure! Some red wrigglers will survive in soil depending on its content of organic matter but need permanent moisture so they are often found under plantpot trays once introduced to the garden!
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snottiegobble
Bunbury/Busso (smackin the middle)
5th February 2012 7:34pm
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Diddy FitzGerald says...
Thanks for that...so does it matter if compost worms get on the loose in the garden? They have been so prolific in the worm farm in the shed, and in the compost heap, and we know what can happen with non-native species....maybe i worry too much....
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Diddy FitzGerald
2756 NSW
6th February 2012 7:25pm
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snottiegobble says...
Diddy, unless you have an unending garden of rich compost very few of your worms will survive & they will find it equally difficult to even migrate into the neighbours garden. They are very restricted to rich damp loam & cool conditions! However you are certainly entitled to worry about non-native species! We all should!!
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snottiegobble
Bunbury/Busso (smackin the middle)
6th February 2012 8:11pm
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Ian says...
I have Chickens. Can I add thier Manure to a worm farm?
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Ian17
 
26th February 2012 2:11pm
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snottiegobble says...
No, not straight away.Fresh poultry manure is too hot due to both urine & faeces being evacuated together ( all birds the same)
I would suggest drying it for a month at least & then mixing it with compost before adding to worm farm.
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snottiegobble
Bunno &amp; Busso ( smack in the middle)
28th February 2012 12:42am
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007 says...
We have a Vermihut. They are quite attractive so far as worm farms go. Not like those matt dark black and green coloured farms.

These Vermihuts are actually easy on the eye. Ours is a beige cream colour. Very sturdy also. It has a liquid collection tap at the base so we get organic worm juice that we dilute with water, to use on our plants.
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007
 
11th July 2012 2:56am
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Pauline says...
I have got two new kittens and have found that the lechate is the most delicious drink a kitten could ever want. My farm is kept in the house (and has no smell at all) and I keep the tap open all the time with a tub under to catch it. Every time the kittens can get to the water they do lol. Bless. So another worm farm bonus ;-)
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Pauline
Adelaide
14th July 2012 3:29pm
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snottiegobble says...
Pauline, are you saying that your kittens drink the worm juice?? Cats are usually quite particular about their drinking water & much prefer rain water, pond water & even seasol/ water to our increasing fluoridated & chlorinated crap out of the tap. Who can blame them?
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snottiegobble
Bunbury/Busso
14th July 2012 7:41pm
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Pauline says...
Yep, they LOVE it. No idea why, but yes, just about everyone with cats have said theirs will drink any water they find other than their nice clean tap water. Maybe they are just much smarter than us. ;-)
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Pauline
Adelaide
14th July 2012 10:03pm
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Julie says...
Or they are sensible enough not to like fluoride and chlorine!
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Julie
Roleystone WA
15th July 2012 8:07pm
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snottiegobble says...
Cats follow their instincts & prefer natural water with some living matter in it like pond water. They detest chemicals of any kind.Watch a cat run when you use fly spray in the house! Yep,not as intelligent, but more sensible than humans!
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snottiegobble
Bunbury/Busso
21st July 2012 11:31pm
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Anonymous says...
We had some firewood in an old large flower pot, tucked away. When we moved out of our old house two years ago (to demolish) it was among things stashed behind FIL's shed. It then was shifted into our garage last spring and has sat there ever since.

Today I went to sort it out, stack the wood etc, and discovered that under the firewood was half a bag of mulch. Only, it didn't look like mulch, it looked like worm castings. So I sorted it through and found... worms! and worm castings! They must have got into the bag and spent the last two years eating it. There were a couple of hundred worms in there - fewer than might have been expected given the amount of castings (half a broccoli box) but I suspect they've reached the end of the food and numbers adjusted accordingly. I transferred the worms to a new farm (as I'm not sure what they are so don't want to put them into the main box until I know) with some half finished compost and some food scraps and we'll see how that goes.

They're obviously some kind of composting worm, and they must have come up from the garden.

My new fruit trees will get off to a good start!

MJ
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4
 
3rd May 2013 3:54pm
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Original Post was last edited: 4th May 2013 12:28am
amanda says...
I had some released worm-farm worms invade a bag of pure dynamic lifter that I left on the ground for quite some time (that got wet) Would have thought that would be too "strong" for them - but they loved it..?!
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amanda19
 
14th May 2013 11:37am
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Anonymous says...
ooh, I'd have thought that would be too strong as well.

Did you deliberately release the worm farm worms, or did they just appear in the garden once you started using the castings? SIL found that was the case in her garden.

Bye
MJ
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16th May 2013 6:38pm
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amanda says...
I release them MJ...they thrive in my garden beds (but don't spread into the dry areas/bush..) I have a native worm here that has a neon blue stripe down it's sides...it large and very shiny/smooth - and a full on Earthmover!

I am thinking I should farm and sell them - they leave those big cast-towers everywhere...
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amanda19
 
16th May 2013 7:20pm
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MJ says...
Have been trying to reply for a few days, but I'm having trouble with this forum and my computer. :( Ah well...

I just put a worm tower into a raised bed. Worms would find it hard to escape from there, but hopefully the fact that I'm feeding them with the tower means they won't want to! I have a tiny one in a potted fig tree and it has worked very well. I cleaned it out yesterday and distributed the castings around the top of the pot and there are lots of happy worms in there, including some little ones, so I'm assuming they're breeding in there too.

MJ
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20th May 2013 11:00am
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Julie says...
MJ, what is a worm tower? Could you elaborate please.
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Julie
Roleystone WA
20th May 2013 7:13pm
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MJ says...
Hi Julie

The gist of it is to get a tube with an open bottom and drill holes in the sides. You then set it up for composting worms. With the first mini one I made (for my potted fig, out of a 3 litre milk bottle), I put some hay (because I had it, straw might be better), then a scoop of cow manure, food scraps for worms, a handful of worms, and then some wet paper (paper towel, maybe?) as a top layer). It then got a saucer over the top to keep birds and rain out. It worked very well over two quite hot days (42 degrees, with that 27 degree night in between), and then a week later we got 25 mm of rain, and again it survived. I did water extra on those hot days, but I would do that anyway, with a potted tree. I started with just a small handful of worms because it was experimental. When I harvested the other day there didn't look like much evidence of the original materials, just castings and some bits of food scraps that they hadn't got to yet. I put them back, with the worms. There seemed to be a good number of worms, including some small ones, so I guess they're breeding. This one has been running for about 3 months.

I don't know that I really needed to harvest the castings. I did water it down a bit the other day and noticed that the volume dropped quite a bit, so I am guessing that at least some of the castings washed out into the soil of the pot. Theoretically the worms move in and out of the tower (and they do, I've found quite a few out of their tower) and take their castings out with them to deposit into the soil. I suspect a nice thick layer of lupin mulch or something would encourage them to move around the pot a bit more, but my mulch is looking a bit thin at present. It would be good to also have some real earthworms in there that would do the job properly.

The bigger one I did in the garden bed on the weekend (the commercial one - see links below) I got I started with a few scoops of partly finished compost, again some cow manure, and then a good few scoops of worms, plus their castings and whatever food was in the worm farm in those scoops. Then I've been feeding them my kitchen scraps and put some wet paper on the top.

A few links:
http://www.birdiesgardenproducts.com.au/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=147&category_id=40&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=100064
(this is the one I bought)

This is a diy version: http://milkwood.net/2010/10/12/how-to-make-a-worm-tower/

This company does another type, called the Little Rotter and Big Rotter. They also sell earthworms and composting worms, and I'm dithering about getting some of them too.

Ooh, I've written a bit of a book! Sorry!

MJ
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76
 
20th May 2013 8:14pm
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Anonymous says...
Sorry, tube gets buried with an open end above ground.
MJ
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20th May 2013 9:10pm
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Julie says...
MJ....' It would be good to also have some real earthworms in there that would do the job properly'.

I have never, ever, seen earthworms in a pot, just deep down in the soil when I have had to dig. They don't breed in the same way.

Thanks for the info!

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Julie
Roleystone WA
20th May 2013 9:55pm
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MJ says...
The last link, that I forgot to actually include... here: http://www.kookaburrawormfarms.com.au/?page=2) talks about different worms that they sell that work in a complementary way. I think that just a heavy lupin mulch would do the trick for my pot, but I'm still interested in the other type for my garden beds.

MJ
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76
 
20th May 2013 10:42pm
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MJ says...
Oh, and I've got eisenia fetida in the worm farm, and now in the towers. I have another farm of worms that I found in the mulch bag, which are kept separate until I can tell what kind they are.
MJ
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76
 
20th May 2013 10:44pm
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na says...
http://wormfarmproject.blogspot.com
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na
 
22nd May 2013 4:18am
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MJ says...
Now that my bonus worms (the ones from the bag of mulch) have had a chance to fatten up a bit, they look very much like the worms in my worm farm, so I think I might put them all in the one farm.

Does anyone know, if it turns out that they're a different worm, if it matters to have two different worm kinds in a worm farm?

Ta
MJ
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76
 
24th May 2013 10:09am
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MJ says...
Na, is that your blog?

I've also found some other great info on worms - Red Worm Composting, or something to that effect, is a Canadian company that do worms and they've got heaps of good info on their website.

MJ
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76
 
24th May 2013 10:10am
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dr says...
The reason why most people don't have worm farms is the same reason why most people won't do push-ups ---it's too much effort. The following is a lazy man's worm farm---dig a hole in the root zone of something you want to fertilise. Gather a bunch of kitchen scraps and assorted slops and place in the hole ;add a few worms and cover with say, carpet . Leave alone and worms will do their job and multiply up. Do the same somewhere else and ,amazingly, the worms will find it. Repeat as often as needed. Simple.
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dr
sydbey
25th May 2013 9:44am
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KeepitReal says...
Worm farms are a hoax. Worms belong in the soil. It is there where they benefit by increasing soil fertility and transporting nutrients to the root zone of plants.
Compost worms compared to a compost tumbler is a lot of work. Can't add this and can't add that, and you can't add too much in one go and you can't add til the previous lot has broken down. Warm weather, you've got to move them to a cool spot. To properly get the best out of them you've got to chop up veggie scraps fine. Getting a bit too acidic for the poor critters, go fetch some lime to sprinkle on them. Go away for a couple of weeks, the poor critters have to be fed you know.
Compost tumbler: toss the materials when you want to, in whatever amounts. Turn it when you remember and forget about it.
So much easier than a worm farm.
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KeepitReal
Reality
25th May 2013 12:59pm
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Original Post was last edited: 25th May 2013 1:03pm
freddyg says...
hiya keepitReal,
You sound like me, from the old school!
But mate! having a worm farm for me works good, I have them in their box around the side of the house, in the shade, I feed them shredded newspaper and they give me approx. 1lt of worm juice per month which I use as fertilizer for my plants.
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freddyg
 
25th May 2013 8:14pm
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Julie says...
KeepitReal:'Worms belong in the soil'.

Yes, earthworms do, but the type of worm used in worm farms lives in moist, rich conditions near the soil surface. They don't go near the root zones.

There is room for both - tumblers and worm farms. One can deal with the bulkier stuff, while the WF is good for soft kitchen scraps. They both have their place.
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Julie
Roleystone WA
25th May 2013 8:53pm
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Jason says...
I've been throwing my compost in a bin for a couple years now without worms and its never been more than half full. So they seem to work fine enough with smaller organisms doing the work. I throw all kinds of things in there, anything that was recently living.

In the garden I rather throw stuff directly under the trees.
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Jason
Portland
26th May 2013 1:47am
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Original Post was last edited: 26th May 2013 1:53am
dr says...
If we want to keep food scraps and green waste out of tips then the public needs something easier than a fiddly-diddly worm farm-- that only enthusiasts will service. Sometimes it seems as if layers of complexity are added for no other reason than to demonstrate the exquisite cleverness of the proponent. Dig a hole and chuck it in just does not seem to have the same cache . And,yes, the root zone comes to the soil surface ;also the compost worms are well able to survive out side the comfy confines of a worm farm.
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dr
sydbey
26th May 2013 9:39am
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Julie says...
dr, could you explain 'the root zone comes to the soil surface'. I don't understand what you mean.

Yes, compost worms can survive outside of a worm farm, but they won't go deep into a sandy soil like earthworms.
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Julie
Roleystone WA
26th May 2013 7:52pm
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dr says...
What I mean is that fine rootlets can be found just below the surface of most fruit trees and if you place ,say , carpet underlay over the soil the rootlets will even infiltrate that. Nor is it necessary for compost worms to go deep . They are there to convert material into easily available nutrients which in turn will penetrate the soil.
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dr
sydbey
27th May 2013 8:31am
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Jason says...
Feeder roots generally come out of the soil and attach to bits of decaying wood if you use heavy enough mulch. Not so much in true cold temperate trees but most other thing I grow do that to the point of not growing well without a heavy mulch. Haven't tried feeding them carpet though lol
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Jason
Portland
27th May 2013 9:59am
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dr says...
If you can get your hands on the old fashioned underlay that was made of jute ,I think, you'll see the plants love it and even work their way into it.
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dr
sydbey
27th May 2013 2:10pm
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MJ says...
I don't know much about it, but this article: http://www.greenjourney.com.au/attachments/156_Under%20the%20Carpet.pdf makes me nervous about using old carpet products in the garden...

Anyone know any more about it?

MJ
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76
 
27th May 2013 4:02pm
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dr says...
Yes, it is very disturbing. All the hazards mentioned would be equally dangerous in our living rooms but less so in the garden. A quick test would be to see if bugs and worms thrive under the underlay . If they do it is unlikely that harmful residues persist in the underlay. Thanks for the article.
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dr
sydbey
27th May 2013 5:33pm
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walbanger says...
It seems like quite a few people in here know their stuff about worm farming. There is an excellent manual that may be of great interest to the newcomer. It is a best selling guide to worm composting. http://3119enoemx19il4hsfu4de15x8.hop.clickbank.net/?tid=WORMFARMS. It is super stuff I highly recommend it.
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walbanger
 
10th June 2013 2:27pm
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thewormfarmer says...
I did not know anything about worm farming until I got directions from this ebook http://www.howtomakeawormfarm.com

It has all the information you need on worm farming. And this worm farming blog will give you good information as well http://wormfarmingforbeginners.wordpress.com

Hope this helps.
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thewormfarmer
Durbs
17th July 2013 7:08am
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MJ says...
I'm in the process of harvesting worm castings from the in-bed worm farm. They've obviously been very happy in there! There was *heaps* of room left, but I wanted to see how it was going, so I scooped it all out and put it in a bucket. I went over and took out the obviously not-ready bits (like sticks of celery...) and put them back, plus the worms I could easily get. Now I've got milk-soaked bread on the top of the half-bucket full of castings/worms to (apparently) attract the worms to make sorting them out somewhat easier.

I've moved onto "stage two" of my in-bed worm farm experiment, where I haven't currently sorted out any kitchen scraps. They've got all the kitchen scraps I had in the bucket today, onion skins and all (though not a great deal of their non-preferred food). I've also got some partly decomposed stuff in the other farm that I will pull out and put into this one, just to give the wormies something better to eat while they're waiting for this lot to break down enough.

There are loads and loads of worms and eggs in there, and a lot of castings. So far I am calling this a success. Very easy to manage - easier than my compost tumbler, even, I think - and they're obviously happy in there, or they wouldn't be reproducing so much. I've got one ready to go for the pear bed, just waiting for the potato that is in that spot to be ready to harvest to make room. :) We might have new potatoes one day this week so I can do that. I also need to make other small versions for the large pots, as the pot with the worm farm in it is far and away the healthiest pot I have.

MJ
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76
 
26th August 2013 7:43pm
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MJ says...
The worms continue to be a success, but I am wondering if anyone could comment on how much sorting people do before using the castings in the garden?

I've taken out the big worms, and am now in the process of trying to separate the small ones. There are lots in there... I've put the castings at one end of a Styrofoam box and some food scraps at the other. Some worms are migrating by themselves and I am helping others along as I find them. There are a lot of eggs, too.

Thanks
MJ
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76
 
15th September 2013 11:30am
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MJ says...
Oh, and I should update on the potted worm farm... The pot with the worm farm in it is by far doing the best of any of my pots! As I put the more permanent plantings into the wine barrels I will add mini worm farms/towers to them too.
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76
 
15th September 2013 11:37am
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Julie says...
MJ, I got completely fed up with separating worms! I can't find the post where you describe your worm setup, so not sure how you are doing it.

I built a large WF with concrete slabs on edge, put large blocks in the middle, then made separate sections with board.

As the worms finished one lot of food I let them into the next section - I divided it into four. By the time they were in the last section, the first lot was free of worms and eggs. So much easier.

I covered it with old carpet in summer, then plastic on top of that in winter, to keep out the rain.
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Julie
Roleystone WA
15th September 2013 7:27pm
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Original Post was last edited: 15th September 2013 7:29pm
Jenny says...
They absolutely LOVE watermelon so that may assist with attracting them in a particular area.
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Jenny
Brisbane
15th September 2013 7:31pm
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Thee says...
I have 17 worm towers all around my front and back garden. I first saw them at bunnings $25 each and researched them and made my own out of wide PVC piping. On average they are 60cm lengths with 30cm buried inground . Holes drilled for the worms to migrate. Beauty about the towers is there's no need to empty as the compost worms come to the tower to feed then leave and deposit their castings in the garden . Then regular earthworms feed on the compost worm castings and go deeper and further in the garden . I also have a can o worm system ( cos I like to see my worms & collect their juice) and when the trays are chockers I add them to the towers. Works a treat.
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Thee
Melbourne
26th October 2013 6:49am
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gilbsy123 says...
I have a wooden frame from an old couch that I put on the ground under a pepper tree. I started putting kitchen scraps, bokashi, and some old left over chicken laying mash along with some other soil amendments into the chambers and when I ran my garden fork through the vermicompost I felt tons of roots growing into my bin. Guess I'm gonna have to move it. Hard to find shady spots around my yard that don't have trees ear that will send roots into my on the ground bin.
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gilbsy123
Lakeside
28th September 2014 3:37am
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MaryT1 says...
Hi gilbsy123 - I think you need to put in a good floor and lift it off the ground.
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MaryT1
Sydney
28th September 2014 9:54am
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Cal2 says...
Hello
I am hoping i can get some much needed help.
I would really love to start a worm farm but know nothing about it.
I have just purchased a worm farm and im wondering what bedding do i add.
Can i use sugar cane mulch?
Thank you
Caroline.
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Cal2
HALLS HEAD,6210,WA
5th November 2016 9:52pm
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Brain says...
I would be inclined to use coir soil, which is usually included with worm farm kits.

You can easily get a brick of coir (coconut fibre grounded finely) from hardware stores cheaply - and just add water, expand and add.

Otherwise, fine seedling potting mix can also work. And you can also mix in with some (little bit of) shredded newspaper or cardboard.

I personally would not recommend sugar cane mulch, too fibrous for the worms to eat and move around, especially either too dry or too wet.

worm farms are a great investment and takes a little patience. :)
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Brain
Brisbane
8th November 2016 5:26pm
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RobSue says...
About a month ago I bought & established a work farm from Bunnings with 4 trays and 1700 worms. Instead of just using the compressed coconut coir that came with the kit I also used a bag of compost so now all 3 bottom trays are full of worms and compost. The top tray is full of scraps but I think the worms are too happy feeding on the compost and coconut to bother too much with the food. Is there a way I can get the worms out of the bottom trays into the upper trays before tipping the compost into the garden. I want to lose as few worms and eggs as possible so that it will start working more quickly
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RobSue
Canning Vale
13th January 2017 12:59pm
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SueBee says...
RobSue the worms didn't read the book that says they migrate into the next bin above when the first is exhausted...mine didn't either.The books say to turn it out onto a tarp and let the worms migrate to the centre from the light then take the unwormy soil off and then return worms to top bin....well that is the theory but certainly not after just a couple of months. Mine has always had worms in all three layers and I found it extremely hard to separate them from the soil ---they didn't migrate at all.Wiat for at least six to 12 months before disturbing your worms or you will lose all the eggs and young.I ended up with three worms farms as It was too hard to separate them....2nd & 3rd farms are home made in half 44 gal plastic bins cut horizontally, the plug hole has a bucket under it to catch the leachate and the worms just get whatever I have both household waste and weeds and fallen fruit...no smell to any farm ...though some paotatoes have tried to grow in them.LOL
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chookie2
SW Vic.
14th January 2017 12:06pm
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WormsRUs says...
Hey you only need to use one tray at a time. Otherwise you will end up with the situation you've described.

When the first tray is full with kitchen scraps, only then do you add the next tray and so on etc... No need to add all 4 trays and all that compost at the start.

Cheers,
WormsRUs

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WormsRUs
www.wormsrus.com.au
14th January 2017 8:44pm
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Brain says...
Generally, it may take a month to a few months before the worm move up the trays.

As you have discovered, it can be quite slow as the top tray of food doesn't get eaten and you wonder what the worms are up to.

I've found that with the worm cafe, it takes about 6 months for the worm farm to be established and working. And also for the worms to breed.

Ultimately, if you are really keen, you can do what people do when they harvest worm castings. Which is to shone a very bright light as you harvest the compost slowly with a little spade and the worm will move out of the way. Then at least you get to relocate the worms as you come across them.

Otherwise, just wait, remove most (not all) of the food on top tray so that it doesn't rot or smell. Leave a little bit to entice the worm to move up and monitor the situation. As you see the top tray get eaten, then feed it normally and once the top tray is built up i.e. half full, then you'd be able to at least free the bottom tray. Though do note, there will always be some worms at the bottom trays.

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Brain
Brisbane
14th January 2017 10:07pm
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RobSue says...
Thanks to all of you for your kind suggestions.

Clearly my first problem is that I should never have initiated all 3 trays to start with and my biggest problem is my lack of patience. I will now wait and keep monitoring what is going on. Hopefully my worms will breed and develop a bigger appetite over time.

I may leave a copy of the book on top for them to read during their breaks to see if that helps LOL
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RobSue
Canning Vale
15th January 2017 8:28pm
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Steven says...
In my worm farm there is usually always alot of worms in the lower trays unless the top tray is almost completely full of compost. It doesnt really worry me though. When i want to fertilize something i scrape off a few handfuls of castings and put it in a watering can. Once mixed with water it becomes like a liquid fertilizer that i can then water onto my plants. I prefer this way as often if you throw the castings on top of the soil as if they were pellets, they tend to dry up and get very hard. So i either mix it with potting mix for seedlings etc or i water it in so it soaks into the soil.

Becareful starting a worm farm now as the hot weather can kill the worms en-mass. Put a 5 liters or so of water through the compost so that it drips to the bottom tray and that should help them keep cool.


I hope this helps


Steven

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Steven
Eastern Melbourne
16th January 2017 10:39am
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