Why would you grow Earthworms?
Worms offer multitudes of benefits in the garden but compost worms in particular (Eisenia fetida) are superstars! These little red wrigglers produce castings from the delicious food scraps you feed them, that can either be applied directly to the soil each month for a mega nutrient boost or diluted into a tea to apply to sensitive crops. They also produce worm juice which is a fantastic liquid fertilizer!
Simply by finding an insulated container of sorts (at swasti an old fridge was used) ensuring any holes in the base are closed and providing ventilation at the top. Plumb a drainage pipe into the base and surround this with a riser to stop muck from getting into your tea. Then simply add rocks or coarse matter to the base to act as drainage, cover in mesh (or the fridge wire racks) to stop dirt or castings clogging the system and then add worm bedding (moist coco peat), some composted manure and moist shredded paper.
The worms may take a few days to settle into their new castle but offer macerated food within a few days and then off the system goes! In the tropics you’ll need to feed and water them every few days and ensure the balance is right. If it begins to smell simply add more carbon in the form of paper and always ensure its cool and moist. They love most food scraps as long as they’re small enough (they have tiny mouths so large items take a long time to break down) but they don’t like a few things which are worth noting.
Oils, fats and sugars are no good, neither are dairy and meat. Think of your worms as health conscious vegans and you’re half way there. They also dislike citrus, potato and onion but otherwise they’ll happily munch away on most organic kitchen scraps. Simply place small scraps onto the worm castings and they’ll do their thing.
Ensure they are always covered with moist cardboard or material to avoid desiccation and sunlight and they’ll carry on decomposing and reproducing happily for years!
Written By Sarah Burns – Permaculture Specialist