Making a Low Tech Worm Farm

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We have the worm bath (see here) but you may not have the space or a spare bath floating around so there must be another way I hear you say, no not picking up a black plastic worm Taj Mahal from Bunnings – there must be ANOTHER way. There is of course and, you guessed it, that is what this article is all about.

If you are short of cash, space, a bath or whatever but want to recycle your veggie scraps you can still do it by following the steps below, and the most expensive part of the whole shebang will be the worms themselves, so the big hint there is to ask around to see which of your friends has a worm farm and pinch a “seed” population from them!

What you need to get hold of is –

  • two polystyrene broccoli boxes complete with at least one serviceable lid,
  • some shade cloth,
  • a PET soft drink bottle which is preferably empty,
  • and some means of making holes in the polystyrene,
  • Some polystyrene friendly silastic (ie no solvents), a brick of cocopeat and some hessian would also be good.

The process is –

1.Get hold of the best looking broccoli box, the one that will be used as the worm chamber at the top, and make sure that the lid fits well. Pump a whole stack of holes in the bottom for drainage. You can use a say 6mm drill to do this but it will generate vast amounts of those little polystyrene beads that get EVERYWHERE! If you can get access to a hot wire cutter that is better, or even a nail held in pliers and heated over a flame. We got a hot wire cutter that has a long stiff wire from a hobby shop that works well.

Raw Materials

2.Grab the bottom one and in the middle of one of the ends, as low down as you can manage cut another hole about 30mm in diameter as a drain hole to harvest worm wee, should you so desire. The drain hole is optional, you can still harvest the wee by removing the top box and just tipping out the bottom one, but I like to get a little techo. To form the tap I bought a comparatively cheap plastic 25mm control valve although what it was designed to control I have no idea – but as a tap it sucked! Damn thing leaked like a sieve; anyway I ended up by cutting off the end of a PET drink bottle complete with lid then by insinuating it into the hole and screwing the lid on tight (plus a bit of silicone) it worked tolerably well holding back the wee but allowing harvest as required.

The opening of a PET bottle complete with lid fitted as a valve

3.That’s most of the construction work completed. Now all you need to do is to put down a layer of shade cloth over all the holes in the bottom of the top box to stop the worms falling into their wee, dump in a hydrated brick of cocopeat and cover the surface with some hessian to keep the worms comfortable and install the lid.

Holes in the worm chamber and hot wire cutter

4.To operate add worms and worm food and away you go! Freezing the vegetable material first starts it breaking down making it easier for the worms to consume too.

Shade cloth in place

By placing food on one end and encouraging the worms to work there you will get a build up of castings in that end, after a while you can place the food at the other end and give the worms a few days to migrate. You will then be able to harvest the worm castings from the original end and use them in your seed raising/potting mix or added to pots or beds as a fertiliser or used to make a fertiliser tea or whatever. 

Cocopeat and hessian in place - We're good to go!

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