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Setting up a worm farm Using worms to turn waste into a resource.

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1 Setting up a worm farm Using worms to turn waste into a resource.

2 Obtain a worm farm  Plastic moulded worm farms kits can be purchased at most hardware stores and plant nurseries.  Recycled plastic or polystyrene containers can also be used to set up a worm farm.  Some local authorities hold community workshops and have information brochures on setting up worm farms.

3 Step 1: If you have purchased a worm farm kit, before you assemble it, check to make sure that you have all the pieces: 5 legs 1 tap 1 liquid collection tray 3 composting trays 1 lid 1 block of compressed copra or coir. (Items may vary with different kits.)

4 Step 2:  Place the legs firmly into the base of the liquid collection tray.  Insert the tap into the liquid collection tray and turn the tap off.

5 Hints for positioning your worm farm  Position the worm farm so that it is on a level site and will not fall over or easily bump over.  Make sure the worm farm is not touching anything. Ants will access a worm farm any way they can.  Protect the worm farm from direct sunlight and ensure that it does not get the full impact of heavy rainfall.  If conditions are too hot, worms will try to escape or cook; if it is too wet, worms will attempt to escape or drown; and if it is too dry, worms will try to escape.  Situate your worm farm so it is convenient to your food preparation area and it is not a chore to regularly use it.

6 Step 3:  Place an open container under each leg of the worm farm.  Pour some water into each of these containers to act as moats to prevent ants getting into the worm farm.  Add a small amount of kerosene to each water container to stop mosquitoes breeding in the water.  These water containers will need to be topped up from time to time.  Place the first composting tray on top of the liquid collection tray.

7 Step 4: Soak the coconut fibre in a bucket of water for 10 to15 minutes. The fibre will expand and fill the bucket.

8 Step 5:  Soak newspaper, cardboard or hessian in water.  Place the wet newspaper/ cardboard/hessian into the base of the first composting tray.  Lay this wet material out so it covers the small holes of the composting tray.

9 Step 6:  Place the coconut/copra fibre onto the wet newspaper/cardboard/ hessian and spread it out across the tray. This is the bedding material for the composting worms.  Then place about 1000 composting worms onto the bedding material. Composting worms not earthworms are used in worm farms.

10 Step 7:  Finely cut up, shred or vitamise food scraps and place them over the worms.  Do not feed worms with onion, shallots, garlic, meat, fat, citrus skins or dairy products.  Worms also eat shredded or torn up wet newspaper and cardboard, hair and vacuum cleaner dust.  Be careful not to overfeed your worms. Uneaten food will go bad and create problems in the worm farm.

11 Step 8: Place a layer of wet newspaper or wet hessian over the food scraps.

12 Step 9:  Place the lid on top of the composting tray and you have your very own worm farm.  Place a container under the tap to collect the worm juice.  Leave the worm farm for about a week to let the worms settle in.  Then take off the lid, lift up the wet cardboard/hessian and place in some food scraps.  Replace the moist newspaper/hessian and the lid.

13 Ideas to help maintain your worm farm  Do not overfeed your worms. Food that the worms do not eat will go bad and create problems for the worms.  Every 3 to 4 weeks, sprinkle a small cup of lime or dolomite over the food scraps. This will help the worms to grow big and level out the acidity in the worm farm.  If there is a smell then there is a problem and the worm farm needs to be checked.  Use the water collection tray tap to drain the worm juice 2 to 3 times each week. Put this juice into a watering can, add water and use the amazing liquid on your garden, around fruit trees or on grassed areas.

14 More ideas to maintain your worm farm  As one composting tray fills up, add an empty composting tray and place the food directly into that tray. Always cover the food scraps, where the worms are working, with wet newspaper or wet hessian.  Ensure that the worm farm lid is always replaced properly so that flies do not access the food tray. Flies will, if the chance arises, lay eggs that produce maggots.  As all the composting trays come into use, lift off the top trays and pull out the bottom tray. This tray will contain castings that can be spread about the gardens. Return any worms to the top tray, clean out and wash the bottom tray and keep it ready to reuse.  From time to time the water collection tray might need to be cleaned out or the tap will block up.

15 Well done!  You are now reducing the amount of organic waste that is going to landfill.  You are reducing the amount of chemicals and fertilizers that are being used on your property by using worm juice and worm castings.  You are using a natural process to turn organic waste into a very useful resource.


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