Compost Worm Farming


Hi, Geoff Lawton here. Everybody likes the idea of
growing an organic garden, but they also want to know,
how am I going to fertilize it, how am I going to keep it productive? Well, you can make your own fertilizer, well you can work with
something that makes fertilizer, and that’s compost worms. We all have some food scraps to deal with. Not everybody has a recycling
system where they live, set up by their local government. But you can recycle it yourself. You can set up a system that continuously creates fertilizer, both liquid and solid fertilizer, that’ll keep you eating
from your own garden. This is closing the waste stream loop of your own food system. Now, the little guys that
do the work are these. They’re not earthworms,
they’re compost worms. There’s quite a few different types, red wrigglers, brandlings, tiger worms, Indian night crawlers,
African night crawlers, Indian blues, there’s all sorts. This one’s going up me
arm a little bit here. They’re pretty friendly, look. They eat their own weight every day. So the amount of worms you’ve got, or the amount of worms
you’re going to end up with is going to equal in weight, the amount of food scraps
you’re going to dump in there. What you produce out of your kitchen. The only thing they don’t like
is citrus peel and onions, anything in the onion family. Citrus peel, you can actually burn and make a good fertilizer
from the ash if you want to. Now, the product. Every day you can get a few
liters or a half a bucket or so of good quality liquid
fermented worm juice. This is coming through the worm farm. You don’t have to water it down, but you can, you can extend
it twenty times with water, or you can use it neat. The other product, the other
great product is this one. It’s a whole bucket,
and it’s heavy, right. This is worm castings,
this is a solid material. This is better than compost in some ways. It’s kind of sticky, it’s gluggy. I can kind of make almost
like a ball, like a clay ball out of this. This is high quality, solid fertilizer. There’s a little worm still in there. This has humates and mesylates
and sticky gels in it, that all come through the gut of the worm. Earthworms eat the
manure of compost worms. That’s how rich it is
in beneficial bacteria. Not so much beneficial
fungi, a little bit of fungi. Mostly beneficial bacteria. This is great fertilizer. Solid fertilizer and liquid fertilizer. Every three months,
you can empty this bath and get a bath full of this stuff out and reset your worm farm. And every day, you get your
liquid fertilizer coming out. You’re in business. You can grow your own food
in a very high nutritious, high quality, healthy way, by recycling your own waste stream. Let me show you what your going to need. You can use just an ordinary bath. You just get it set up
at the right height, so that it drains down to
the normal drainage point of the bath. Then I just use a piece
of old chicken wire, and a scrap piece of shade cloth. And all I do is wrap it up. The wire just gives it a little bit of strength and integrity, I just want it to stay over the bath plug. I’ll just fold the wire in,
bring the loose ends together, and that’s our filter. You don’t want this
bath to get clogged up, so that the water, any moisture in there, can’t drip through to the bucket, and the worms then get
flooded up to the surface. Takes a while to drain it. So I just stick that over
the drain hole of the bath and all I use is a house brick. That’s my filter. It’s that simple. We’re going to use manure
as their base food. That’s one of the secrets
of keeping it simple. Half fill your container with
cow manure or horse manure. If you’re going to use sheep or goat, you’d make sure it was quite old, especially of it was desert manure, which is very rich. If it was chicken manure, it
would have to be very aged. Cow and horse manure are great because they’re partly
decomposed vegetation. So here are some of our worms. There they are. They can go straight onto that manure. They’ll thrive on that manure there. They’ll dive right in. And I’ve got a wheelbarrow here of the residual worms
from the last worm farm. Now there there’s hundreds of worms here. And they’ll be hundreds
of worm eggs as well. We don’t want to mix the
fresh scraps into the manure. It’s ’cause it will go airless. And that means it will go anerobic, and it will give off methane, which won’t be good for the worms. It could kill ’em. So we keep it in layers. So now we’ve got all our worms in, and they’ll all dive down. They’ve all gone for cover. We bring up our food scraps, and everyday, we just drop our food
scraps onto the worm farm. We spread it out a bit, that’s it. That’ll build up because every
single day for three months, you’ll be adding a bucket,
half a bucket of food scraps, whatever you’ve got. And your worms will come up, and they’ll convert that into fertilizer. Now I’m going to wash it all down, clean it up a bit. And we’re going to
spray all the farm down, we’re going to water it down, so it all goes wet and sloshy. Because the worms like that. The liquid coming out, is definitely more nutritious for plants, because it’s very high in bacteria. The gut of the compost worm, has enormous diversity
of beneficial bacteria, that’s really good for the soil. It’s quite different from to manure tea, which can be quite anaerobic, and have anerobic bacteria, which is not so good for the soil, and we don’t know how old
it is and how acid it is. But the worm castings, and the juice that comes from the water, filtering through this worm casted mix, this is neutral, it doesn’t have an acid or an alkaline pH. It’s very neutral and it’s very
high in beneficial bacteria. So you’re feeding the soil. There we go. We’re going to really get a good test on our drainage here as well. There we go, we’ve got it really nice and wet, and as long as it’s draining, we’re right, we can keep
topping this up for three months and get constant fertilizer every day. So here’s our final move. I’ve got to, just a scrap
piece of shade cloth, keep ’em nice and shaded. They don’t like the light
and move away from the light. I’m just going to keep it simple, and just weigh it down
with four house bricks. I’m just going to put an
extra piece of weed mat here. This is even more shaded. Could be an old carpet,
could be an old blanket. As long as it lets the rain through, I don’t like the worm farms to
be covered up from the rain. I like the rain to come
through the worm farm. Little bit of extra juice,
little bit of diluted juice. That’s fine with me. The more juice we get, the better. The more I can fertilize my garden. So there we go. A very simple way to make a worm farm, and it’s guaranteed to work. Couldn’t be easier than that. So here we are. After three months, our worm
farm is ready to be harvested, and all the castings can come out. It’s like a compost but it’s more sticky. But we’ve got to capture our worms. So, if we take the cover
off, and just cover one end, and put fresh food, only on that end, they have to dive away from the light and they eat their own
weight, everyday, in food. So they got to get towards that food. So the majority of our
worms, most of our worms, are going to be in that fresh
food, within two or three days. Now, we’re ready to harvest. So we can pull out our worms, put ’em in a wheelbarrow,
reset the farm with manure, and fresh food. Put our worms back and
we’re ready to go again, for another three months. Okay, let’s get onto it. Take the bricks off, they’re just weighing
down this shade cloth. Uncover our worms. Now we’ve got to move quite quick, ’cause they’ll also dive
away from the light. So we’ll start to pull ’em out, here they are, they’re in that fresh food, and there’s thousands of them. Just look at ’em. It’s wreathing with worms here. They’re all coming for that fresh food. These are your classic worm castings, and they’re sticky,
they’re glued together. It’s much stickier. There’s one worm left
in there, there he is. But that’s worm castings. It’s a beautiful, solid fertilizer. And every three months we get
a whole bath full of this out, and we reset and we empty
again, every three months every 12 weeks. This system closes the waste
cycle of your food supply. So you can produce good,
high quality fertilizer, solid fertilizer every three months. You get a bulk load. And every day, you can
get liquid fertilizer coming through this worm farm. It doesn’t take up much room. It’s a constant supply. And it will run as long as you supply it with waste stream, it will run. Now if you don’t have enough food scraps, you can use grass clippings. You can put clipped weeds in here. If you want more nitrogen,
you can use bean crops, or cover crops that are nitrogen rich. If you want more phosphate, you put phosphate rich crops in here. If you want more potassium,
you use potassium rich crops, or weeds. It’s just vegetation. They’ll even eat shredded paper. Best if it’s something nice and lush. But you can design the end result, to emphasize in one direction or another. This is designer, organic fertilizer. Day by day, year by year, running indefinitely for your food supply, to make sure that you stay healthy, with nutritious, valuable food.

13 thoughts on “Compost Worm Farming

  1. Hello, great video! I have implemented this system to create my own garden fertilizer! I have a question: What is the shelf life for the liquid fertilizer? In other words… How long can I store the drained juice in a 5 gallon bucket before it becomes inert and ineffective?

  2. I use to use kiddy pools and spread the worms around each spring where they were needed around trees and plants. Now where ever I dig or move a pot there is a handful of worms. Healthy looking too.

  3. does natural fertiliser attract fruit flies and thrips and can neem oil be used to keep away other pests without harming the earth worms.what are good organic methods to keep pests and parasites away from your crops?

  4. what are good methods of using blood meal fish emulsion and kelp in your compost to add extra nitrogen phosphorus and potassium and other nutrients.

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