By RICHARD CUSKELLY*
TONNES of avoidable food waste goes to landfill every day, which can present a financial loss for households as well as a negative environmental impact. Because of the way food waste breaks down in landfill it can create methane – a harmful greenhouse gas. A fun and effective way to reduce your waste is to feed your food scraps to a worm farm. The waste the worms produce (called ‘castings’) is rich in nutrients and great for feeding house plants, adding to seedling mixes and potting soils or top-dressing around veggies.
If you have children, starting a worm farm is a fantastic way to start fostering their responsibility and environmental conscience, and introduce them to gardening, sustainability and food cycles. They can get their hands dirty for a good cause!
Choosing a worm farm
You can make your own worm farm by recycling materials around the house such as plastic tubs or containers, polystyrene boxes or even an old chest of drawers. Just don’t use any treated woods as the chemicals could poison the worms.
You can also buy ready-made worm farms from a garden centre or online.
Preparing a worm farm
First, you need to provide a bed for the worms. This needs to be a combination of soil or ready compost, shredded newspaper and leaves. Place them in the top layer of your worm farm so that the bed is about 15cm thick.
Add a little water to moisten the mixture but don’t soak it.
Spread the worms evenly over the bed; you’ll see that they’ll start to burrow immediately.
Feeding the worms
Now that your worms are happily burrowed, you can start to feed them.
They’ll love the majority of your kitchen scraps: most fruit and vegetables (see last point below!), tea bags, bread, as well as moistened newspaper and cardboard (empty toilet rolls and egg cartons, for example).
Try to make the scraps as small as possible before feeding.
Every time you feed the worms, cover the food with a little soil or compost.
Don’t feed the worms any dairy like butter, cream or cheese and stay clear of feeding them meat, bones or fat. Worms also don’t like citrus fruits, onion or garlic.
Rotating and harvesting
The worms will eat the organic waste and turn it into liquid fertiliser as well as worm castings. In short – worm poo and wee.
The worm liquid will be trapped into the lower container and the worm castings will stay in the upper containers.
Once a container is full with the worm castings, it’s ready to be added to your garden! The liquid can be used anytime – just dilute it with water at a ratio of 1:10 and it’s ready to go.
For more tips on getting started, view this site https://tinyurl.com/y4olv57t
*Richard Cuskelly is Brighton Council’s planning officer