I was educated on Worm Farms this weekend. Caleb’s friend has been worm farming for a while and recently upgraded to a new system specifically designed for worm composting. We biked over to her house this beautiful fall day, rustling through streets blanketed by crackling yellow autumn leaves. The mild temps and cloudless sky made this the nicest fall weekend I can remember. Oh yeah the worms…
I had no idea what to expect, other than having heard the phrase “worm farms” somewhere on TV. I pictured a small fenced in mound of compost with rotting eggshells and banana peels, similar to what I’ve seen in some backyards. (Make that non HOA controlled backyards.) However that’s not the case. Worms are clean and efficient. A modern worm farm is a three or four level stack of trays. You can create them out of large tupperware bins and partition your waste so that the worms will farm within sections, but doing this requires you to dig around the sections being farmed in order to collect the soil, thus upsetting your worms. A better worm farm contains the plates of trays. You dispose of your waste in the (covered) top tray. The worms get busy munching, and soon the bottom layers collect with waste rich dirt. You collect the dirt and use it for gardening and planting, and grow your own nutrient rich fruits and vegetables without the need for fertilizers. Also since much of the organic waste has high water content the extra runoff is collected into a small can or jar. This is known as “worm tea” and can be used to water your plants with the same nutrients and minerals available in the dirt.
Because this “mini ecosystem” is constantly active there is no smell. And the part most impressive? Household items that you would normally waste: apple cores, coffee grounds, banana peels, green peppers, newspapers, paper towel rolls, and even egg cartons go straight into the worm farm, and eventually are processed into dirt. How cool is that?
Our friends keep their worm farm in the basement with a work light above it. Worms shy away from bright light but a red gel will keep them active as you watch. Or setup a webcam and create time lapse videos as our friends plans to do. You can purchase worms online or at a gardening store, and no need to worry about worms overwhelming your farm since their space will regulate their reproduction.
This is seriously the most impressive organic or green household activity I’ve seen. It’s easy, simple, and interesting. The way these worms, which live in something the size of a large shop-vac, can create natural dirt is just cool. Your organic waste now serves a purpose.
Left photo: adding waste for the worms. Right: Done! It’s soil now.
James Van Dellen and Caleb Cross