Regular contributor Tricia Hogbin of Little Eco Footprints shares a simple eco-friendly project perfect for introducing children to the superpowers of worms!
Making a worm farm using free and recycled materials is easy – easy enough that children can do it themselves with just a little help. All you need is a couple of recycled Styrofoam veggie boxes, a handful of compost worms and some worm bedding. Within weeks you will be reducing your household waste and producing fertiliser for your garden.
You will need:
- Two styrofoam produce boxes. You can get these from your greengrocer. Make sure at least one has a lid.
- Knitting needle, chop stick, screwdriver or other sharp tool for making holes in the styrofoam box.
- Worm bedding. A bucket of compost is ideal worm bedding. You can also use shredded paper, leaves or old straw.
- A big handful of compost worms. You can buy compost worms online, or better still get your worms from a friend or neighbour who has a worm farm. An easy way to collect worms from an existing worm farm is to crack an egg in one corner of the worm farm. Return a day later and that corner will be full of worms ready to collect.
- A newspaper
How to make your worm farm
Poke holes in the bottom of one of your boxes. This box is the ‘feeder box’ – where the worms will live and feed.
Half fill the feeder box with the worm bedding. Make sure your bedding is moist but not wet. If you are using dry materials like straw or shredded paper, wet them first and then squeeze out any excess water.
Carefully scatter the worms on top of the worm bedding. A handful of worms will contain around 1,000 worms.
Soak the newspaper in water and lay it on top of the worm bedding. This will help keep the worms’ home dark and moist.
Place the feeder box on top of the box that doesn’t have any holes. This lower box is where you will collect the worm wee. Place your worm farm in a shady spot in Summer and a sunny spot in Winter.
You can decorate your worm farm using permanent markers.
How to look after your worm farm
- Leave your worms to settle in for a week.
- After a week you can start adding kitchen scraps on top of the bedding, underneath the newspaper. Add only small amounts (around a handful) initially. As more worms breed they will eat more food. Eventually your worm farm should be able to handle most of your kitchen scraps.
- Keep the top layer of newspaper damp and replace as needed.
- To harvest the worm castings move all the castings to one side and add fresh bedding to the empty side. Most of the worms will move to the fresh bedding and in a few days you can then remove the castings. Worm castings are a great plant food. Grow seedlings direct in the castings or use it to top dress your pot plants or garden.
- The worm wee is a super plant fertiliser. Pour the worm wee from the bottom box into a watering can or bucket and dilute 1 part worm juice to 20 parts water. It is too strong to use undiluted.
- You can eventually increase the size of your worm farm by adding an additional feeder box on top, creating a multi-story worm farm. The worms will migrate up through the holes to the new bedding. After the worms have all migrated to the top box you can plant seedlings directly into the initial feeder box to create a miniature garden.
Wishing you and your children loads of messy fun making a worm farm.
Check out more of Tricia’s playful ideas for kids (and their families)…
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