Worm Farm-Not Dirty But Green
“Ego is not a dirty word” was a famous song put out by Australian band Skyhooks.
Now as we end 2011 and enter into 2012 there is a new word that is no longer dirty “Green”. For a long time the word green has been associated with unemployed trouble makers always tying themselves to a tree for the better good. And even though these causes were just, it was always frowned upon by the general public and the authorities.
In today’s society the word green is used more and more by business wishing to portray being environmentally friendly and eco aware. As we understand more about the climate and the damage caused by neglect we look towards better and more environmentally friendly ways to go about our daily lives. We have seen the introduction of considerably more environmentally friendly products in the last ten years than we have in the previous 50 years. And each new year sees more eco products hitting our shelves in electrical products, grocery items, manufacturing and automobiles. Thru purchasing these products we can start to do more to help our troubled planet.
Another fun and educational way we can start to make a difference is through recycling with earthworms. Setting up a worm farm is relatively inexpensive and easy to maintain but the long-term benefits outweigh the any expensive tenfold. For millions of years earthworms have gone about their daily business of recycling waste material into rich healthy soil.
Worm Farm Benefits In Soil Include.
- Improves its physical structure
- Enriches soil with micro-organisms (adding enzymes such as phosphate and cellulose)
- Microbial activity in worm castings is 10 to 20 times higher than in the soil and organic matter that the worm ingests
- Improves water holding capacity
Worm castings, (waste material from worms) have been shown to be richer in many nutrients than compost produced by other composting methods. It is rich in microbial life which converts nutrients already present in the soil into plant-available forms and unlike other compost, worm castings also contain worm mucus which helps prevent nutrients from washing away with the first watering and holds moisture better than plain soil.
If you decide to make your own worm farm, it can be simple, fun and extremely educational for children. Containers can be made from an assortment of materials such as timber, plastic polystyrene and even old car or truck tires, and the composting worms can be purchased from a variety of sources. A rule of thumb though is to make sure there is some form of drainage tap or similar device in the bottom to release the excess liquid. If left in the worm farm for too long it will become stagnate. Also if only making a small worm farm, be sure not to overstock with worms, as population will be governed by size of farm and available food, so too many worm in a small area will result in a lot dying.
If you are not feeling confident in building your own worm farm, then there are literally hundreds available on the market to purchase. These vary in size depending on your recycling need and can range from a single tray system to the larger models with multiple trays, as well as an assortment of shapes and colours depending on your tastes. I personally opted for a manufactured (from recycled plastic) as my first worm farm, as the majority on the market have been made with many of years of testing behind them to produce a product that is highly efficient in the recycling of waste material as well as giving the best possible environment for worms to do what they do best-recycle.
Unfortunately when it comes to the worms it is not as easy as going into the back yard and digging some up. The best worms for composting are Tigers –Eisenta Fetida, Blues-Perionix Excavatus/Spenceralia, Reds-Eisenia Andrei and African Night Crawlers-Eudrilus Eugenia. Again these can be purchased from a variety of sources and do not fear about having them delivered as nearly all commercial worm farmers package their worms in such a manner that loss of worms is to a minimum.
Besides the two main components used in worm farms-the worms and the farm-you should also consider a worm mat to place under the lid and on top of the soil to help your worms feel safe as well as keeping the farm dark and moist. The last thing on the list is a good worm conditioner. Worm Farm & Compost Conditioner helps neutralise acidity and balance the pH levels in your worm farm or compost bin. This means your worms can digest larger quantities of food waste faster.
Maintaining a healthy worm farm takes very little time or energy, whilst the benefit are many. Besides your worm castings, a worm farm produced an excellent supply of worm tea. Worm tea is an extremely concentrated liquid mix of all the goodness, extracted from the worm cast or vermicast used in the making of the worm extracts. This liquid worm extract contains all the bacteria, fungi, protozoa and nematodes as well as all the nutrients and minerals that the worm castings, vermicast contained. Once extracted it is best to dilute it 10:1 in water.
Worm tea from a worm farm is a nutritious tonic which is really helpful when:
- your veggies and plants are flowering
- or fruit is ripening.
Rich worm tea also supports:
- diseased and stressed plants,
- protects them against insects
- and even helps establish young plants.
Charles Darwin once wrote:”Without the work of this humble creature, who knows nothing of the benefits he confers upon mankind, agriculture, as we know it, would be very difficult, if not wholly impossible”. Even though he was more famous for his work on evolution, Charles Darwin spent much of his life studying earthworms and their effect on the environment. Through his work we are able to understand how important these small creatures are to not only mankind but to the planet as a whole.
So whether you decide to undertake worm farming with just a small farm or a multi tray system or even on a commercial basis, starting a worm farm can be a very rewarding project to undertake not to mention the huge environmental benefit associated with it.