Food waste makes up a large proportion of our household waste. These waste when transported to landfill, decays without oxygen to form harmful greenhouse gases. Composting and worm farming are easy and important ways to divert these valuable materials going to landfill, reducing the green house gas emission and returning nutrients back into the soil.
What is Worm Farming?
Worm farming is a great alternative to composting for people who live in apartments or have limited space. Worm farms can be kept inside, outside, on the balcony or in the shed. Worm farming is a simple and fun way to turn food scraps into a rich, soil-like substance called ‘castings.’ Worm castings are great nutrient source for pot plants, seedlings, and for potting soils. The liquid produced by worm farms which is also known as ‘worm juice’ is full of nutrients and can be diluted and added to pot plants.
Benefits of worm farming:
• To reduce waste:
Worm farming helps to divert household organic waste from landfill.
• To Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions:
In landfill the organic waste gets decomposed without oxygen (anaerobic process) which causes the release of greenhouse gases, as well as produces leachate which when combined with toxic chemicals seeps into soil and groundwater.
• To Produce Nutrient Rich Fertiliser:
Organic fertiliser is produced in solid (worm casting) and liquid (worm juice) form.
Easy steps to worm farm:
1. Select the ideal site: i. Place the worm farm in a cool and shaded area. Worms do not survive well in the heat.
2. Maintaining worm farm:
i. Initially provide a small handful of food scraps for the worms to eat.
ii. Maintain moisture levels by spraying water on hessian or newspaper regularly.
ii. Slowly increase the amount of food provided to the worms depending on how fast they eat it. Also leave the tap open to ensure the liquid is draining from the farm.
3. Provide proper worm food:
Worms like to eat vegetable and fruit peelings, tea bags, crushed egg shells, cardboard (such as shredded egg cartons), coffee grounds, newspapers etc. Smaller scraps are easier and quicker to digest so blend your scraps with water before feeding your worms. Worms’ least favorite foods are citrus peelings, dairy products, cheese, meat, fish, bones, very oily foods and citrus, onion and garlic and animal droppings.
4. Harvesting the casting
i. Once a casting layer of approximately 5cm deep has formed in tray 1, stop feeding the worms in that tray.
ii. Add tray 2 on top of tray 1 and start to feed the worms in tray 2. Begin with a small amount of food in one corner and slowly increase the amount of food until the majority of worms migrate to tray 2.
iii. Once tray 2 is somewhat established, the casting from tray 1 can be removed.
iv. Tray 1 can then be placed on top of tray 2 and food scraps added as before.
v. This process of rotating the trays around is continuous and should be carried out as required.