We had originally established the worm farm based on a simple idea of two styrofoam boxes stuck together, and bedding based on garden soil, newspaper and straw.
The worms seemed to be OK with that, but after 6 months or so, I was expecting far more worms than we have. After fishing through what seemed like mountains of newspaper, the obvious occurred, they obviously were not breeding because of their home. They didn’t really seem happy in the previous setup.
They had little to keep them in a dark place, the bedding was garden soil. And the food seemed to be taking ages for them to eat away.
I had a look around on the net, and found that coir (coconut fibre) or peat make ideal worm farm bedding – strange, this wasn’t mentioned in the article we found on one of the NSW councils websites.
I figured it sounds good, Coir holds more moisture and is free draining, it’s a different colour so you can readily identify coir over worm castings, and inside the styrofoam box, it’ll be a wonderful insulator.
The first step was finding Coir or Peat that did not have any fertilisers in it (as it’s used for seeds typically). Worms need a fairly neutral pH level else they’ll get burnt. We found Bunnings and K-Mart sell it. Bunnings had some organic labelled stuff from their catalogue for $3 or so, and K-Mart (much closer than Bunnings for a brick), had a Coir-Peat brick from a company called “Brunnings” (nice name..) for $2.
I couldn’t easily ascertain if the product contained any foreign chemicals to that of the coconut fibre and peat mixture, after I emailed them asking for the MSDS, it turns out it’s 100% coconut fibre – straight out of Sri Lanka.
Perfect, the next step was setting up a temporary home after getting the coir-peat brick expanded. This was easy enough, one small brick, 4.5L of water, and the bucket is full with the moisture absorbing mix.
After that was cleaned out and draining clear, we then set up a temporary home for some candidate worms, we took out 10-20 worms and placed them in the coir-peat mix temporarily. Left them for 24 hours, to make sure they survived. They did.
The next tedious job was picking out from our months of mixed food, worm castings, soil and newspaper, the individual worms. What a time consuming job that was, tediously filtering through about 20L of material for worms. We bought a pack allegedly providing 1000 worms through a mixture of eggs and worms. Not the case when I’ve gone through and pulled each one out. There were heaps of smaller worms, some larger worms, but the total amount was far less than the 1000 (and considering there was supposed to be eggs, you’d think they’d have hatched already).
So we don’t have 1000 worms, it’s probably in the area of 500.
They’ve been in the new bedding and fed far more broken down food, lettuce flakes and apple flakes seem to be keeping them well, unlike the previous farm, there are worm that are definitely visible, they are all over the food (whereas previously it would be rare to see them eating food).
The newspaper is used on top of the farm, the worms still seem to try and eat that as well (I can find them inside it), but that’s not an issue, the newspaper cover is easily enough replaced – and it ensures they have a source of food.
I’ll have to figure out how long it’ll take for them to double in numbers – they control their own population according to space and food though, so it’s difficult to say if they’ll add more worms to the 50mm thick coir bedding that is currently there.