I may get a few cringes, but I ‘m totally geeking out about the thought of starting up my own worm farm. The excited like a little kid in a candy store kind of excited.
Living on the 7th floor of an apartment complex doesn’t leave me with a lot of options for composting. A little part of me dies every time I have to toss some organic scraps into the trash can. I honestly believe:
“What is of the earth, should be returned back to the earth.”
So with this in mind, it’s been a goal of mine for some time now to establish a composting system on my balcony. With limited space and a strict body corp to keep happy, it had to meet these 3 crtieria points though:
1. It had to be portable
My lease is ending in a few months and I want to be able to easily transport my precious gold mine with me.
2. It had to be well sealed
This is to avoid any potentially unpleasant aromas wafting into my neighbours lounge room (their window backs onto our balcony) and of course, for my own personal benefit. I like to sit on balcony to enjoy the view of the gorgeous sunsets we are blessed with so I’d rather not smell composting worm pee when zenning out like this.
3. It had to be functional
Easy to access, small and easy to use.
So I’m so stoked to share with you my latest project:
The Portable Balcony Worm Farm
It’s made entirely from reused materials. It will serve 3 main purposes:
1. To reduce my food waste in the kitchen
2. To reuse the organic nutrients by watering my pot plants with the ‘worm juice’
3. To recycle my food scraps and the materials used to make the system
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. This is my new mantra for life. A big part of this new outlook for me is to look towards the ordinary and everyday for inspiration. So when I saw this $2 Esky (“Cooler” for those non-Australian folk out there) up for grabs at a flea market, I couldn’t say no. An image of a thriving worm farm popped into my mind. I just had to have it.
With drill in hand and some old shoe laces, here’s what you need to do.
What you need:
- Esky, Cooler or bucket with lid
- A drill
- A few old shoelaces or a small piece of rope
- A small container (I used an icecream container)
Step 1: Drill a hole in the bottom of the esky just big enough to pull through a few shoe laces or a piece of rope or any other material of that sort. Keep it tight. The idea here is for the ‘thread’ to act as an absorbing agent. It will draw the worm juice out of the worm farm for you to collect and reuse.
Step 2: Thread the rope through and tie a knot from the inside to hold it in place.
Step 3: Worms don’t need a lot of oxygen but they do need to breath so just a couple small holes in the lid will suffice, or alternatively, leaving the lid slightly ajar.
Step 4: That’s really it! Provide the worms with a bed of good-quality soil, leaves and shredded paper and then add them to the mixture.
Over time, the thread will start to absorb the worm castings for you to collect in the container underneath. So you’ll just need to have the worm farm sitting on a seat or a milk crate for it to drain.
A few notes on maintaining your worm farm:
- Keep it in a cool dark place. The worm farm will actually ‘bake’ if you leave it in direct hot sunlight all day, especially if you experience hot summers like we do here in Queensland. Keep covered with some hemp bags or carpet if this is the case. I have a styrofoam esky to place on top of mine.
- Keep the environment moist for the worms. Every now and then, pour some water through to drain some worm juice out which will drop down the thread and you can use to water your plants (you may need to dillute it first before watering your plants).
- Chop your food scraps up to help the worms out. They’ll thank you for it and return the favour bycomposting your organic matter quicker!
- Avoid composting onion, garlic and citrus skins. Whilst it mighten make that big of a difference in a large scale composting bin, I feel better for my worms if I’m not creating a too acidic environment for them in such a small space.
- Add some shredded paper to mix every now and then. Don’t over do it as you don’t want to unbalance the carbon-nitrogen mix, but it’s a good way to make use of those bills and credit card statements!
- Your worms will breed. So if it gets to a point where you think they’ve overpopulated your small bucket, spread the love with some friends and pass on some worms 🙂
Do you have a worm farm? What tips and tricks have your learned along the way? I’d love to hear and learn!
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