Events, Life and my Garden

Converting Scraps to Compost Worms Milestone (Part 1)

Compost worms … 29 years on

BACKGROUND

Before I get to the real story here let me say one thing. It’s the little wins in gardening, that often give you the greatest kick, & inspire you to do more.

From my experience, you don’t always have to be super motivated at the start, or consistent through unavoidable changes to your time. Little wins come as you try. They will develop your patience and inspire consistent effort, to try out new and bigger things in your garden. In turn, You and your garden, will become more resilient to seasonal conditions, weather, pest problems, uncooperative humans & wildlife, to name a few.

THE  MILESTONE

Since 1992 I’ve separated 50 kilogram extra, of pure red wriggler compost worms from my worm farms, to start other worm farms breeding in my garden. That is from no special effort, except feeding them on kitchen and garden scraps (plant based only) in enclosed vermin resistant systems I designed. For more information see My Worm Farm Design links below.

I have dug separated worm castings into my soil, probably into many hundreds of kilos by now. I wish I knew the real figure. But in my haste to improve and condition new native soil garden beds in my younger years (I’m 52 now and started this garden from scratch at 23) I didn’t record these details. But like Manuel in Fawlty Towers…’I learn Mr Fawlty..I learn.’

CURRENT PRODUCTION

Currently I separate at least 20 kilos of worm castings from my worm farms, AND 3 kilos of extra worms, per year. Time required: Low…I have just 10 hours total on average per week to spend in/on my garden (I mow my lawns, sow, plant, prune, tidy, harvest, tend to all composts in that time, myself).

I will go into how I harvest, store and use worm castings in Part 2 of this post..TBA.

I will say all those kilos of worm castings I produced, though separated, contained compost worm eggs. The newly hatched compost worms have ‘lived rough’ on the sheet mulching I regularly apply on my native soil garden beds, breaking it down into …black gold. Tons of beautiful soil I could never have achieved for this large garden and didn’t have the funds to buy in. The worms and I have created this lovely topsoil together. But the garden has weathered several droughts and hot summers including last years ‘once in one hundred years ‘ drought. Many of those worms have died in the process and, my soils after all this time are definitely not perfect. So all soil continues as a work in progress.

Those that survive ‘living rough’ have spawned little descendant compost colonies dotted all over my garden – because I don’t use chemicals or manures. I have found red wrigglers and earthworms to be  perfect companions. They work on breaking down surface mulch like grass & leaf clippings. The earthworms plough the deeper clay soil below. Work I wouldn’t and shouldn’t do much of, myself.

But why did I say no manures? It’s my more recent measure, and it’s hard to sustain the kind of beautiful soil organic manures give. But sadly, many manures ‘organic’ or not, may contain traces of worming medications and antibiotics used to keep animals healthy while they live in ‘regulated’ conditions. Those worming medications may kill your garden earthworms, compost worms and soil microbes. I choose not to let manures into my garden now, so problem solved. So now you see how important my worm castings and random wildlife droppings (via ecosystems I design in) are to my soil. They are chemical and medication-free because I know what foods they’ve eaten. Part 2 will have more on this.

MY WORM FARM DESIGN

In 2014 I wrote an article about how to build your own worm farm using my fully enclosed worm farm design, for permaculturenews.com.org. You’ll find that article HERE.

I also wrote an update blog post in 2019, which you’ll find HERE

I use them now as ‘tractors’ of fertility all around my garden, not just tucked in out of the way spaces like my 2014 article photograph suggests.

I hope you can use some re-purposed materials around your home to build your own. If you buy new components, these will last you many years, so are worth the money.

Please like this article. Comment below on how you are going with your worm farms and any further ideas, comments or questions on the topic you’d like to add.

Good luck with your worm farm if you decide its for you 💚

Disclaimer: Please do your own research for your own needs and context. The author assumes no responsibility for any outcomes of anyone using this well researched and documented blog post. Enjoy your worm farms.

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