Setting up a worm farm
General

About Dianna

Hi Wormi friends and welcome to my website!

I have been composting with red wriggler worms since July 2017 and am still very much a newcomer to the world of worm farming and vermicomposting.

My first experiences with composting was my dad’s pile of grass clippings in the back yard. Dad rarely did anything with this pile of goodness, but each time he mowed he would tip more clippings on top of the pile and leave it to the elements. Mum did her part by collecting food scraps in a bin and I would be given the job of taking the scraps out to the grass pile.

My Career path

Apart from these childhood experiences, I have had little to do with composting. I left home and began my working life as a secretary in a fabrics company in Sydney. Unfortunately, this didn’t work out for me so I went back to school and obtained a Bachelor of Science at the University of New England, Australia.

After graduation, I went to work in a pathology laboratory. Most of us have gone to the doctor and had them send us of to get blood tests done. Or maybe we’ve had to collect urine or feces samples to hand in to the collection centre. These samples are then sent off to the pathology laboratory, which is where I entered the scene. It was my job to run the tests and send the results back to the doctor.

After 7 years of this, I decided it was time to make a change and so, I entered the world of early childhood learning. I enjoy spending time with children and learning about their quirks, personalities and engaging in fun activities with them.Recycling symbol

This is when I was introduced to the recycle, reuse and reduce movement.

Early childhood learning in Australia places an emphasis on teaching children about sustainability. As I learnt to teach children about recycling and reusing items and sorting rubbish into appropriate bins, I started thinking about what I could do, in my personal life, to live sustainably.

Why Compost

My mum was passionate about recycling and reusing items. She frequently told me what could be recycled and which bin to put items in. When mum passed away, I inherited her recycling system.

At the same time my local council brought in a new rubbish disposal system that emphasized composting green waste and recycling plastics and paper. While learning about this new system, I also learnt that up to 50% of rubbish sent to land fill is green waste. When green waste is sent to land fill it decomposes anaerobically and as it breaks down, methane gas is released into the environment.

This was the beginning of my desire to compost my green waste.

Why worms?

I tried three composting methods within the first 6 months – vermicomposting, hot composting and bokashi.

Bokashi

I bought a bokashi system and tried it out for about 4 months. The benefit of bokashi is that you can put anything in it, including meat, dairy, fish and oils. The down side is, it resulted in a goopy, smelly mess which either needed to be buried in the ground or put through another composting system. My family complained about the smell and told me to remove it from near the house. I ended up removing it altogether.

Thus ended my fledgling career with bokashi.

Hot Compost

I had fun with hot composting. I bought a black compost bin from Bunnings and filled it up in a single day with clippings from dads grass pile (which lives on today) and dad’s old newspapers (thanks dad!) torn into pieces. Hot compost binOf course, I also started throwing kitchen scraps in as well. This worked great all summer. The volume in the bin would reduce every two – three days, so I was always adding new material. Before long, I was heading back to Bunnings to get a second compost bin, which promptly filled up as well.

It didn’t take long for the neighbourhood ants and other creepy, crawlies to move into the compost bins and make themselves at home. Whenever I lifted the lid, I was greeted by a seething, squirming mass of what looked like ginormous maggots. I have since learnt that these energetic critters are black soldier fly larvae (bsfl) and that they are even better composters than the trusty compost worm. (I expect I have the bsfl to thank for my waste being reduced so frequently).

I found the benefit of hot composting is that it is capable of composting large amounts of waste at a time. If you are lucky enough to attract bsfl into your compost bin, you can also compost a great variety of scraps (the little critters will eat anything that has lived, bones and all). The draw back of hot composting is that I don’t have anywhere to put it all (its all still in the bins). I also found that when autumn arrived, the whole system slowed down and went into suspension.

Despite the fun I have learning about hot composting, it doesn’t quiet give me the same satisfaction that I obtain from playing with worms.

Vermicompost

After some online research and checking out the composting section at Bunnings, I decided to make my first worm farm. I bought 3 black storage tubs from The Reject Shop. At that time, I didn’t own a drill so I harassed my brother into helping me drill air and drainage holes in two of the tubs (thanks bro). I put newspaper and cardboard into one of the tubs, wet it all down, added worms and called it a worm farm.

Unfortunately my worm farm didn’t prosper. At that point I didn’t have enough knowledge about worm farming to have confidence in what I was doing, so I ended up neglecting the poor things.

I started reading everything I could find online about worms, worm farming and vermicompost and downloaded some ‘how to’ guides. After a period of two months, I was ready to try again. I bought a new batch of worms, added them to my system and my worm farm was reborn.

Since then, I have harvested my farm twice and used the vermicompost on my garden.

Vermicompost is a wondrous thing. It smells earthy and feels moist and spongy. I love running my hands through it and getting it under my finger nails. The plants love it too. I am as much a novice gardener as I am a worm farmer, but the snow peas in the photo below are growing madly, powered by worm poo.

Setting up a worm farm

 

What next?

My vision is to promote vermicomposting, and composting in general, to the world. If every person does a little bit then we can make a big difference to our planet.

My goal is to try out different worm farms to find the pros and cons of each system. I will share what worked for me, what didn’t and what was an epic failure. I will monitor the progress of my worm farms and report on their output over time.

Lets do it!

Now, its time to get our hands dirty. Have a look around, pick a system that will work for you and lets get composting! I would love to hear stories of your own composting adventures, so feel free to comment below. If you have any questions or would like me to post about a specific area of composting, leave a comment or email me directly at dianna@wormicompost.com and I will reply to you ASAP.

Dianna

Founder of wormicompost.com

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