Worms, whether you like them or loathe them, they're ever so useful. In the garden they keep the soil in good heart and well aerated, and for fish bait they can't be beat. However there is another excellentuse for them and that is as food waste recyclers. In these days of green living why not let worms help you do your bit for the planet by making a worm farm? It's an easy task and one where you can get your little ones involved
The simplest worm farm consists of three containers, and an ideal system is made with 3 plastic stacking boxes; in fact it is an almost a ready made farm. The bottom container keeps its solid base, and the bottoms of the other two have holes made in them. The reason for the holes is twofold, first of all it allows access for the worms to move from container to container, and secondly it allows liquid to drip through to the bottom container where you harvest it. The top container needs a watertight lid with air holes drilled in it to allow your worms to breath. The bottom base should also have a way to release excess liquid by way of a simple tap (or just a plugged hole). That is the basic construction done with.
Worms do best in a dark, moist, and cool habitat so darker colored containers tend to be better. In the bottom one you should add about 4 inches of gravel so that any worms that find their way into it won't drown. Then you place the middle container on top of it.
In the middle container you place the bedding for your worms. This consists of a couple of sheets of newspaper followed by 2 or 3 inches of compost or garden soil on top. Into this you put your specialist composting worms where they will be perfectly happy finding their way around their new home. In fact your worm farm could be deemed as being worm heaven, if there is such a thing. On top of this goes your third container, the one with the lid.
In the top container goes the food for the worms, in other words your chopped up kitchen waste. The finer you chop the wast the easier it is for the worms to eat and digest although it isn't strictly necessary. Don't add too much initially as the worm farm needs some time to acclimatise. Don't worry too much though you'll soon get used to it.
Now that you have your worm farm up and running, what do you do with it? Well after a few weeks you will have some excellent fertilizer from the bottom container. Draw it off and mix it one part fertilizer with ten parts water, using it full strength would be much too strong. It is better than most liquid fertilizers you buy from the shops so you are already in profit.
In time the middle container will fill up with worm castings and this is the very best compost you can find; use it for your prime plants, it's great feeding for them. Most of your worms will be in the top container now, eating their way through your kitchen waste. This then becomes the new middle container and so it goes on. The worms will move up to the top again when the food is exhausted in the middle one.
You can't use the ordinary brown worm you find in your garden by the way, they need completely different surroundings and would probably die off. There are two types of worms that can be used and these are the red worm and the second one is the tiger worm. You can sometimes find them for sale in garden centres or fishing shops, but the easiest way is to buy them online, and you will find they breed very easily so it's a one-off purchase.
As to what you can put into the top container as food; well most things really but it's best to stay away from such things as meat, onions, and acidic fruits. Crushed egg shells seem to aid digestion and if the food looks a bit sludgy shredded paper helps soak up excess liquid.