Worms are an often overlooked inhabitant of gardens despite being hugely important for soil and plant health. Encouraging populations of worms on landscape scales has brought about increases in crop yields and has caused a shift in perspective in regards to sustainable agriculture. On the garden sized scale, encouraging worm populations can have equally significant effects. With the use of worm farms, you can get rid of organic waste and double vegetable garden yields.
Worm farming is also known as ‘vermicompost’. It works by creating a decomposition geared ecosystem within your compost bin or worm farm. A successful ‘vermicompost’ container will have bacteria, fungi, other micro-organisms and ofcourse worms. All these groups pitch in to break down certain molecules. The end result is matter that is rich in plant nutrients and organic material.
One of the most important parts of this process is the worms gut. Worm excretions are incredibly rich in plant growth nutrients and as such have been known to be huge stimulants of plant growth. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, worm waste kick starts microbial growth within the soil which help keep plant roots healthy, and some of which gift plants nitrogen. Secondly, worm waste increases fungi growth, which many plants also depend on for exchanges of nutrients. Thirdly, the worm waste itself has essential nutrients for plants which come in a readily absorbed form All of these factors combine together to make plants respond hugely in terms of growth and size.
The overall result of incorporating a worm farm or a compost bin is that you will be able to use organic waste to make organic fertiliser to help grow your garden. If you have a vegetable patch in your garden, this process can almost become a self-sustaining cycle. Garden vegetables -> Organic waste left after consuming vegetables -> worm farm/compost bin -> generated compost -> Add to vegetable garden to grow more vegetables. Repeat as many times as you like.
Another positive effect that worm farms and compost bins can provide for your garden is habitat. If you situate a light directly next to the compost bin, it will attract lots of different insects who will be drawn to the light and stay for the food resources inside the compost bin. I have witnessed situations like these and it is incredible how much nocturnal animal activity it can attract. Frogs are especially keen on this idea, and will flock to the light to lay in wait in an ambush position to pick off as many insects as they can get. It also can attract other insectivorous mammals such as antechinus, microbats and small lizards.
I have included some links below to various worm farm/compost bin options which can be purchased online (click on the pictures for more information). Worm farms also offer an invaluable opportunity to educate children of the wonders of nature. There is a worm farm for kids which is a great idea for any nature minded parents out there.