It’s International Compost Awareness Week so it’s a great time to share the composting and worm farm set up I have just completed for the place we are renting at now. Everything has been made from reclaimed materials found on the property, plus a few extra items salvaged from my broader community. I’m very happy with the results so far, especially as they have cost virtually nothing but a bit of time. I will share my new composting set up in the next post and concentrate on the worm farm here.
This project started simply because there was an old bath tub on the property not being used, and a beautiful shady location opened up opposite my vegetable garden and house once I had done some pruning and removal of dead plants. It wasn’t because I really felt the need to have a worm farm; I’ve never used a worm farm before but I thought now was a good time to give it a go. I guess that’s one of the positives of living in several different homes over the past five years or so; each property is unique in its position in the landscape and the resources that are available, so it gives me an opportunity to try out different things.
As I was going to build the worm farm in an aesthetically pleasing and functional location close to the vegetable garden and house, I wanted it to double as a seat or garden bench. I reckon I’ve achieved that. Here’s how I did it:
I couldn’t be bothered building a frame to sit the bath in, so to get started I used bricks from the spare brick pile to stabilise the bath and ensure it was level. This was a bit tricky as the bath is made from very heavy cast iron, however the weight helped keep it stable once it was in place.
Next I walked around our one and a quarter acre property looking for materials to use to cover my ugly brickwork. I found a few old planks of wood that weren’t much good, but because I’ve done so much pruning lately and a lot of the mature plants have been dropping limbs, I decided to use sticks.
Using sticks was more fiddly than I hoped because I had to keep searching for the straightest sticks, cut them to different lengths due to uneven ground, and try to make sure the gaps weren’t too big or that they weren’t leaning over too far. Eventually I reached a point where I was happy to stop fluffing about. Oh, but I cheated a bit. I didn’t do the back side which faces the paddock. Instead I made the bricks look nicer and planted some free plants I got from a lady nearby. The plants will thicken up and provide a nice background for the worm farm / work bench / seat. You can also see from the photo that I left a gap to be able to slide a tray (from an Esky) in and out from under the bath tub’s drainage hole. This is so I can collect the ‘worm wee’ to fertilise gardens. The drainage hole still has the drain fitting in it so the worm farm is rat proof from the bottom.
The next stage involved creating a base to sit off the bottom of the tub so that worm castings and organic material don’t clog the drain and the worm wee can flow out freely. To do this I used wire I found under the trees in the orchard. All this wire was used in the past to protect the trees until they were established.
I used an angle grinder to cut the strong wire to size and then wrapped it in chicken wire to reduce the gaps even further, and then finally used some hessian potato sacks (collected from a farmer a couple of years ago) to lay over the top like a sieve. The hessian also helps stop the worms from falling through and disappearing.
Next I began preparing the worm farm for the addition of worms. I added a layer of old hay that was in the top paddock then a layer of brown leaves and then a layer of compost from my old compost heap. This was topped off with a layer of cardboard for a bit of protection.
Up to this point I had managed to build the whole thing from stuff already on the property, however I had to start searching further afield to build the lid. I ended up finding hardwood fence palings and other timber for free by the roadside. I got my kids to help me load it into the car and when we got home I started fashioning it into a lid. Again, I couldn’t be bothered going to the extent of building a hinged lid so my lid simply slides off over the back or I can slide it sideways or I can lift it up and pop things in because it’s not too heavy. In saying that, it is heavy enough to securely fit over the sides of the tub and it is such a good fit that I hope the worm farm is mice and rat proof from the top as well. There’s always the possibility that vermin could chew through the lid but at least I would notice and be able to deal with it quickly.
Time for the seat test! It held us both. 🙂
The only thing left to do is get some worm farm worms and start using it. Have you made your own worm farm? Happy for you to share some tips and tricks and your experiences.