Brian Mercer

Worm Care

The bedding (What the worms live in) is aged horse manure. No soil should be added to your farm.. A couple of times per week just dig over the first 150mm (deep) of the bedding to aerate and to spread the worms more evenly across the surface. This will provide oxygen to the bedding which improves the microbial bacteria count and prevents the worms from clumping into the edges and corners of the farm then lightly water the farm and the cover mat. The water helps to keep everything damp and helps to remove any gases and toxins in the bedding. The damp mat will prevent any eggs that have come to the surface from drying out
Position your farm undercover if possible and out of full sun. Some winter sun is okay. Place the farm with the back slightly raised so any excess liquid drains out of the tap. Leave your tap Open at all times.

The Worm Juice that comes out of your farm is really just nutrients that have been flushed from your farm. You need to allow your farm time to build up worm castings so you are not just getting raw manure washed out of the bedding.  Allow it to drain into a suitable container and pour it back into the farm and drain again. Once again this assists with the microbial bacteria to flourish thus enhancing the composting within the farm. It is also excellent food for your worms

The Worm Juice can be used as a liquid fertilizer – 10 parts water to 1 part Worm Juice depending on how strong it is when it comes out of your farm. You may find other ratios are more suited to your needs. Just err on the side of caution till you are sure you have it right

                       

Feeding your worms

To feed your Worm Farm, pull back the cover mat and newspaper and drop your veggie scraps on top, if you live in a fruit fly area bury any fruit scraps, then replace the newspaper and mat. You can feed fresh manure, eg. horse ,cow or sheep in small quantities. I think it is best in small clumps over the surface or in strips. This way the worms can consume it before it can get too hot. Manures are an essential part of the worm’s diet and should always be present as bedding and or food. They will still clean up your veggie scraps but will breed up better and be healthier. Once every week if feeding veggie scraps just add a handful of Dolomite OR my Special Worm Grain Mix over the top of the bedding and water in A little bit of management can go a long way ensuring you have a successful worm farm to meet your composting needs

Hint: freeze the scraps over night then thaw before feeding. Avoid onions, citrus, chili, meat and any acidic foods.

You can put Dog and Cat Poo in your farm. The worms love it. Just dig down into the bedding, put the poo in and cover it up. Then cover your farm as normal with the paper and mat. There is no smell and no flies; this is an environmentally friendly disposal method for animal waste!

You can use a stand alone compost bin for your animal waste. Put some plastic sheeting under the bin to prevent plant roots from growing then once again start with aged horse manure in your bin. Dampen slightly and add some worms from your worm farm. Then you are ready to go. You will find the compost bin with the dog poo will produce huge numbers of worms.

As the level of bedding goes down just top it up with aged horse manure or any other sort of manure except chicken manure. You can also use Peat Moss, aged lawn clippings or any organic material. Aged material reduces the risk of the bedding heating up.

My recommendation (based on my experience) is aged horse manure but it needs to be soaked in water first then allowed to drain. Break it up so it becomes loose and spread it over the farm

A healthy Worm Farm has a wide range of insect life living within it. These are not pests but an essential part of the composting process.

Removing the worm castings

After 3 to 4 months, to get castings out of the bottom, you will need to tip the farm out into a wheelbarrow or similar container under bright light, e.g. Sunlight. or a desk lamp. A tip: first is to not feed the worms for a week, then feed. Wait 24 hours then remove as many worms from the top of the bed prior to tipping it over. Allow the worms 30 to 60 minutes to move down into the bedding. Then remove some of the bedding, now referred to as worm castings. When you see the worms, stop and wait a few minutes to let them burrow down, and then remove more castings. Only ever remove about half of the bedding. Place the remaining worms and bedding back into your farm.

Alternatively you can, if you wish, use a 1/4″ sieve to screen your worm farm. Place a bit at a time in the sieve and gently move from side to side.. Place the worms and bigger bits of material to one side and the castings and eggs in another container. Once you have emptied the farm just place the worms and bigger material back in your farm. Then top up the bedding. Use your Worm Castings to fertilize your plants in the garden or pots or wait till the eggs (look like small grape seeds) hatch and once again sieve the material to remove the worms then use the castings.

If your worms have increased in number (which they should have), you can transfer them to a larger tub, or use some of the worms to start an additional farm. You’ll have to top up the bedding to replace what was removed. If the new bedding is a little dry, then lightly water it. You can store your casting and wait till any worm eggs hatch or use in your gardens or pots

 

Happy Composting
Brian Mercer

Please contact me if you have any questions.

 

December 2017
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