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Our Environment: Issue 21 Summer 1999

Our Environment: Christchurch City Council's Environmental Newsletter

Cultivating worm farms

When it comes to recycling food scraps, Ray Wright reckons worms have the inside running.

Not only are his wormeries built entirely from recycled materials, but industrious tiger worms will devour as many buckets of food scraps as you throw on them. The result is worm-filled compost to enrich any garden.

Worm FarmRay became interested in worm farming during an organic gardening course at Christchurch Polytech in 1996, when he read about a wormery in a text book. After setting up and refining his own worm farm on Banks Peninsula, he now sells $10 starter packs containing organic horse manure, tiger composting worms and simple instructions on how to build your own worm farm.

"Wormeries work very well with minimal interference and benefit my garden and my organic diet," says Ray. "It saves me using the rubbish bag as a way of disposing of all the kitchen scraps. What a waste that would be."

To build a worm farm Ray says you need three telephone books ( two yellow pages and one directory) a piece of currugated iron, a plastic container, three or four tyres, a tight fitting lid and 35 Saturday newspapers.

Half a large bucket of food scraps generated in Ray's house each week feeds three wormeries. Each farm gets about 10 litres of scraps every three weeks. Once a month he empties the bottom tyre of one of the farms and distributes the compost and worms on the garden or adds it to more mature compost heaps. The empty tyre is placed back on top ready for more scraps.

Ray also grows bumper tomato and courgette crops by feeding them leachate or worm rum gathered from the farms and diluting it eight parts to one with water.

Wormeries are easy to maintain. Worms like to be kept damp and in the dark, and warm in winter and cold in summer. Put the farm close to the kitchen door, for convenience, and the worms will happily devour all your food scraps.

For more information on worm farms or to obtain a starter pack phone Ray at Jasmine Cottage (03) 325 1137.

Jennie Hamilton

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