Ever since I saw my first worm farm, about nine years ago at the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel, I’ve loved the idea. Back then it really was a novel idea, and to find one flourishing at such an upmarket hotel was fantastic. Even better was the fact that they were very proud of it and showed everyone who would take a stroll across the car park.
I’m the same with mine. I’d been really keen to build/buy my own for years, but I just never got around to. Either because the ready made ones were a little pricey, or it seemed like a schlep to make my own – not to mention the fact that I’d then have to go out and buy a handful of worms too.
So I was ridiculously excited when our friends Cat and Brian gave us our very own starter worm farm as a house warming gift. It’s a simple blue box which Cat had started for us with some composty matter and a clat* of happy little worms. My only concern was that the poor things would starve. I honestly didn’t think that I’d have enough off cuts to keep them happy.
Yeah, I wasn’t aware of quite how much organic kitchen waste a family of two can make. I grabbed myself an old ice-cream bakkie, gave it a make-over (because I’m like that) and all my veggie off cuts go into it, until it’s full. Things I pop in there: tops and tails, peels, and crushed egg shells (these are apparently super awesome for baby worms). Things I don’t: any meaty things or bones, and I avoid citrus peels (I think I read somewhere once that the worms don’t like them, I should probably double check though). I’ve had several curious guests ask “What’s in the worm container?”, which gives me the perfect opportunity to drag them round to see my worm farm.
Then when the bakkie is full, I dig a hole in the corner of the big box and tip it all in. Then I rinse out the bakkie and pour that water over the whole lot. Best part? It doesn’t smell, and there are no flies. Everything just composts away happily and the worms feast, and multiply. Seriously when I first got it I couldn’t find the worms, now I don’t have to dig very far to turn up a whole bunch of the wriggly things.
Another bonus is what Cat calls “gift seeds” (I think). Tossing all the off cuts into that damp fertile space means that whenever I open it up again I find little seedlings sprouting. I’ve nabbed a few of them and have some cheerful onion and gem squash plants growing in the veggie patch as a result. Wonderful!
If you know anything about worm farms you’ll know that they are usually layered and have a draining section at the bottom (usually with a tap) so that you can harvest the “worm tea” to sprinkle on your plants. I’m not there yet, but I plan to upgrade in the next few months. Or at least start digging out the compost to use in my veggie garden. The only thing stopping me is that I don’t want to disrupt the worms. Again, I’ll have to do a little more reading to work out how to handle it.
Combining our worm farm with the fact that I recycle pretty much everything I can, we produce so little rubbish I could probably get away with putting the bin out less than once a month. But I think I could possibly still do even better with minimising waste. And I’ll certainly keep trying.
* I love learning new collective nouns.