I've had a compost worm farm for several years now. Actually I currently have three worm farms. They are a little addictive! I didn't know anything about compost worms before I got them, but I fell in love with the concept of having somewhere to dispose all our organic (vegetative) waste that would also reliably produce compost and liquid fertiliser. The worms and I have been very happy with our relationship and I thought I knew everything I needed to know, but then a neighbour (who we respect as a very good hay farmer) recommended this book - Organic Farming with Worms, by David Murphy (and that's not even an affiliate link because its not on Amazon). Not just recommended it, he actually raved about it and showed us his new compost worm farm, and he said he'd bought copies of the book for all his friends! This really got my interest, so I ordered a copy for myself.
This book is for anyone who is serious about getting more out of their compost worms than just waste processing and a bit of compost. This is about maximising yield in garden and paddock by knowing how to manage both compost worms and earthworms to improve your soil (You might need to catch up on some soil info back here).
- Earthworms make top soil at a rate of 2 mm every year, considering how small they are, this is an impressive rate
- Earthworms increase the organic matter in soil, which in turn increases the cation exchange capacity - this means that minerals are not leached from the soil
- And organic matter improves water holding capacity
- Vermicast (worm poo) contains enzymes which solubilise minerals, making them available for plant growth, this will also neutralise soil pH (move towards pH 7)
- Vermicast contains sticky compounds that create stable aggregates (lumps) of soil, which improves soil texture
- You can use vermicompost (worm farm compost) as a compost activator because it contains beneficial microbes
- Seeds sprout better in vermicompost (I know, that's where all the tomato plants in my garden came from!), so you can use it in seed starting mixes
- Don't think of the compost as "fertiliser" with an NPK ratio, its actually inoculating your soil with good microbes
- You can attract earthworms to your garden by making a temporary worm farm in the soil.
- leave stubble in the ground after heading grain or cutting hay
- don't plough - use a no till seeder (but also don't spray herbicide)
- Use a worm farm to generate vermicast and solution (worm wee) that can be used to spray onto the paddock, therefore conveying the advantages of the beneficial bacteria and enzymes present in the vermicast - only a very low dilution is needed, so a small worm farm can be used to cover several hundred acres
- Inoculate a small area with earthworms, maintain the moisture in this area and as the earthworm population increased, eventually the water-holding capacity will improve, you can then gradually expand the area