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Composting and Worms

City of Prospect will provide a financial incentive to residents who purchase a composting system or worm farm to encourage and recognise their efforts to reduce waste to landfill.

Simply purchase your product of choice, download the Worm Farm & Compost Bin Incentive Scheme or pick up a form at the Civic Centre or Thomas Street Centre and bring it in to Customer Service (128 Prospect Road, Prospect) with proof of purchase attached. If approved, a cheque will be sent to you for the incentive amount.

Worm Farming is for Everybody!

On average, each person in Australia produces about one tonne of waste.  That is about the same weight as a family car!  The more rubbish we generate, the more landfill space we need to bury our waste.  This is serious, but you can do something about it by starting your own home worm farm!

The good news is that 30% of domestic waste is food material, and 25% of domestic waste is garden material.  That means that at least one-third of household waste can be recycled in a worm farm.

So don't throw it in the bin. Feed it to the worms and help us to save valuable resources from being sent to landfill

What is a worm farm?
What does a worm eat?
What are the benefits of worm farming?
Hints for happy worms
The Worm Farm "Fit it" Guide
Did you know?

 What is a worm farm?

A worm farm may consist of either stackable crates or bins made of plastic, wood or any other lightweight, waterproof material; or a hanging basket.  Everyone can compost using a worm farm.  It takes up very little room and doesn't smell. Worm farms can even be kept indoors.

 What does a worm eat?

Worms like to eat food wastes such as fruit and vegetable peelings, teabags and crushed eggshell.  They also like small amounts of soiled paper and cardboard.  They don't like onions, garlic, shallots, citrus fruit, chillies, meat, dairy foods and fatty foods.

 What are the benefits of worm farming?

Worms take your food leftovers and turn them into a rich soil-like substance called castings or vermicast, as well as liquid vermicast.  Worm castings are great for feeding house plants, adding to seedling mixes and potting soils or top-dressing around plants.  Worms not only help your plants but they also reduce the amount of rubbish that goes in your garbage bin!

 Hints for happy worms
  • Worms like smaller, chopped scraps because they are quicker and easier to digest.
  • Don't overfeed worms.  Only give them food once they have eaten most of their previous meal.
  • You can store the vermicast or worm castings in a container (e.g. a bucket with a lid) until you need it.
  • Worms need moisture as they breathe through their skins.  Keep the worm farm moist like a sponge, but not too wet.
  • Worms need good drainage.  Make sure that the worm farm is covered so that it doesn't get too wet in the rain.  Make sure drain holes are open at the bottom.
  • Worms don't like direct light.  Keep them in a well-shaded area and keep them covered.  This will also discourage flies and other pests.
  • The water from the worm farm that collects in the bottom tray (worm juice) makes a great nutrient addition to your regular watering regime. Mix the worm juice with water to the colour of weak tea before using it.
  • Citrus and onion can cause acidity; and spicy foods like curries and salty foods like potato chips should be kept out of the worm farm. Add a small handful of lime or dolomite every 10 days to two weeks to keep the worm farm "sweet".

 The Worm Farm "Fix it" Guide

Help! My worm farm smells!

Too much food or too much water can lead to smells.  Stop feeding the worms and stir the material in the top tray with a fork to get air through the material then add some garden lime.  Start feeding the worms again when the smell goes away.  Also, make sure that the worm farm is well drained.  If it is too wet, the worms may drown.

Why won't my worms breed?

Worms need the right conditions to breed.  They need to be kept cool (ideally 18°-25°C) and moist, but not too wet.  They will not live and breed in acidic conditions. Some foods such as fruit, grains, and sugary food form acid.  Sprinkle some lime, dolomite or wood ash into the worm farm every few weeks to prevent it from becoming too acidic.

Pests and unwelcome guests

Ants may become a problem if conditions within the farm are dry and acidic.  Add water to get to a wet sponge consistency, as well as lime to where the ants are gathering.  To get rid of maggots, put some milk-soaked bread in the feeding tray to attract the maggots.  Leave it there for a few days and then dispose of it.  To avoid the problem, keep the worm bed covered with a Hessian sack or piece of carpet.  If your worm farm sits on legs, place each leg in a bowl of water.  This will prevent unwanted creatures from climbing in.

 Did you know?
  • Almost half the contents of the average garbage bin are food and garden organics.
  • Compost worms can consume their own body weight in food every day!
  • There is a difference between an earthworm and a compost worm. Red Wriggler worms, Blue worms and Tiger worms are the most suitable for worm farms.
  • Worms can live for 5 years or more.
  • Worm farms can be kept outside, inside on the balcony or in the garage.
  • Vermicast can increase the amount of nutrients available to your plants by up to 10 times.

Thank you to the City of Lake Macquarie and Reln Plastics for the use of text and graphics for this article.

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