They eat all day and can turn waste into compost. Today, all this useful service can now be contained in the form of a worm farm.
Worm farms allow us to recycle our food scraps and significantly reduce the amount of organic waste being sent to landfills.
The worms used in worm farms are in fact compost worms, which are different to the regular earthworms found in garden soil. Compost worms are surface feeders and don’t burrow deep into the soil like garden earthworms do.
If you want to find compost worms on Rarotonga, underneath old puru and pig pen sites are your best bet. Compost worms are capable of eating their own body weight in food each day.
So a kilogram of worms will consume that much food daily!
In comparison, garden earthworms only eat around half their body weight each day, so they aren’t as good at composting lots of material really quickly, as it take them twice as long.
The valuable compost produced by these special worms is made up of worm ‘poo’, also known as ‘castings’. There are two by-products from a worm farm, these are vermicasts, (a soil-like material) and a liquid being ‘worm tea’.
Vermicasts makes for high quality soil conditioner, and can be added to the garden or pot plants. Worm tea is the liquid waste from the worms (pee/mimi) and is usually separated out from the compost through a tap or outlet.
Worm tea is liquid gold for your garden, it makes for great fertiliser and can be diluted with water and sprayed over the garden with a watering can.
Feeding these hungry worms is simple, but there are a few rules – for instance there are some things that compost worms just won’t eat, and there are other things that are just simply unhygienic to put into a worm farm.
Things you can put into your worm farm includes, most fruit and vegie scraps, cooked food, tea leaves and bags and coffee grounds. You can also add egg shells, as they are a great source of calcium which worms require in their diet to stay healthy, as well as paper tissues, handy towels, toilet roll inners, shredded moist newspaper and cardboard.
Things not to put into your worm farms include citrus, acidic fruit skin, spicy foods, onion, garlic, leeks, capsicums, meat and dairy products, bread, pasta and processed wheat along with shiny paper and fats and oils.
Establishing and maintaining a worm farm is not only environmentally-friendly, but is great fun and an excellent way to educate owners into getting in touch with the natural world along with providing a sense of responsibility for ones actions in the world we live in.
Te Ipukarea Society aims to spread this experience amongst all our schools in the Cook Islands, by providing each of the schools with a portable worm farm to maintain and care for.
How to build a portable worm farm along with what makes for a healthy worm farm will all be taught to each of the schools in order to start a sustainable waste management process that could improve our recycling habits.
Araura College was the first school to receive their worm-farm, and Te Uki Ou School received theirs earlier this week, and will be keeping theirs next to their Rent-A-Plate stall at the Muri night market, in order to make the most of the food scraps people leave on their plates!
“Hungry Bin” worm farms will be distributed to all schools in the Cook Islands, as part of Te Ipukarea Society’s waste management project.
- CI NEWS