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Worm farming is a fantastic way to recycle food waste and produce nutrient- dense plant food. Vermiculture is the cultivation or production of worms and vermicomposting is the process by which worms are used to convert organic waste into a rich material known as humus soil, worm casting or vermicompost.
WormBiz is the best!! This beautiful family business creates the most wonderful products to kickstart everything in the garden. It’s especially important if you plan to grow edibles to ensure you start with nutrient dense bioavailable soil. These guys know and love worms and their products are the best especially in improving poor soil like ours. Can’t recommend WormBiz enough!!
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Want to know about worms? My husband, Permie Pete, owner of Wormbiz, has a YouTube channel dedicated to all things worms.
If you want to know how we use worms in our garden check out the chapter "Living by Nature" in Homegrown Healthy Living book.
All about the worms
supporting your journey toward self-sufficiency
Our aim is to provide you with the confidence to get started on your worm farming journey or perhaps clear up where things might have gone wrong in the past and inspire you to give it another try.
Most popular worm questions answered.
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Tools and methods for processing. your home's natural waste with worms, composting and more.
What's wrong with my farm?
Already have a worm farm and need some help, check out our guide.
Learn more about worms in the book
In the book, Homegrown Healthy Living, I have a whole chapter dedicated to worms and making healthy soil. Take your soil development and worm skills to the next level with your very own copy, we even have a worms + book bundle to really get you started.
Worms are hermaphrodites, meaning they are both male and female.
Depending on species each worm egg or cocoon can have from one to 22 baby worms inside.
Worms don’t have lungs and instead breathe through their skin, which is why moisture is very important in their environment.
Worms have five hearts.
Worms limit their population to the size of their habitat and the food available. 1 kilogram of worms equals approximately 4,000 worms.
Worms are blind, they don’t have eyes!
Worms are moving fertilisers; their secretion contains nitrogen and beneficial microbes that are left behind as they move about the soil.
Worms are sensitive to light and will quickly burrow back down below the soil if uncovered and exposed to the elements.
Want to know more? I talk all about worms in my book Homegrown Healthy Living. Get a copy to really explore here >
Can I use worms from the garden in my worm farm?Composting worms are different to the earthworms that are naturally found in a healthy garden. Compost worms feed on organic waste at the surface of the soil, whereas earthworms feed throughout the layers of the soil profile, making tunnels deep in the root zone as they go. These tunnels act as a watering service to the deeper soil where the plant roots are. Earthworms’ tunnels aerate the soil and create drainage holes covered in a slimy mucus which helps them move through the earth. This mucous leaves a nutrient-rich residue inside the tunnel that plants access for their growth and vitality. So, no, earthworms from your garden will not thrive in your worm farm. The best thing to do to grow and encourage the earthworm population in your soil is to spread compost worm castings throughout your garden.
What kinds of foods do worms feed on?Worms feed on the bacteria and fungi that covers food waste and other organic matter to break it down. The decomposition process occurs at different rates depending on the material. Fruit and vegetable scraps work well; ideally cut them up small, so they break down faster. Cereals, grains and carbohydrates work well, either cooked or uncooked. Manures and compost are good, too. Organic materials such as cow and horse manure and compost already contain large amounts of organisms so the worms can process more, faster. However, be careful not to feed your worms manure from animals that have received deworming treatment in the two weeks prior to manure collection.
What foods don’t worms like?There are some types of foods that worms don’t enjoy as much and can take much longer to break down, becoming problematic in your worm farm. They can become smelly and could encourage unwanted visitors such as blow-flies or vermin and put the farm out of balance. If your farm does turn ‘sour’ remove all food and mix up the remaining material in the tray with your gloved hands. It can also be helpful to apply a sprinkle of lime or worm farm conditioner. Recommence feeding with more suitable materials. Onion: Very small amounts of onion are OK, but too much can turn a worm farm acidic and unbalanced. Citrus: Takes a long while to break down and worms find it difficult to process. Dairy: It is possible to feed a worm farm a small amount of dairy, however it works best diluted with water; eg yoghurt diluted with water and poured over worm material. This helps disperse the high protein and fat evenly so the worms can eat it before it has a chance to go off. Meat: It is possible to process a very small amount of meat in a worm farm, however it does take time to break down and you would need to bury it deep under the soil in the trays to discourage blow fly larvae.
How much should I feed my worms?When starting out a worm farm, about 250 grams or two handfuls of chopped food scraps every couple of days is recommended. To keep the farm well balanced it is a good habit to sprinkle a small amount of compost, soil or straw after each deposit. As your worm population grows, the amount of food you can feed also increases. A tier tray worm farm working at full capacity has the potential to process 2-4 kilograms of food waste every week.