First of all I have to say how much we love the synchronicity of how we managed to acquire our baths! For a long time Kathy and I have wanted to farm our worms in a bath but space was always an issue; but as soon as we knew we were moving over to our much bigger new garden, the dream turned from when to how. Where would we find old baths? 

Getting fencing to put up around our new garden was our top priority so the worm baths kinda took a back seat while we focused our attention on the fencing.

While on the hunt for fencing options, we went to a local municipal recycling depot hoping to find off-cuts we could use. On our way out we noticed two guys coming towards the depot with what appeared to be a bath on the back of their van! What luck!

We flagged them down and probably confused them by how excited we were. We explained that we wanted to farm earthworms for our food garden and could we please, please, please, have the bath they were about to dump. No problem! They kindly loaded the bath into our van and after a million thanks and smiles we went on our merry way.

Not even two days later, Kathy’s husband was at a scrap yard and lo and behold – there was another bath! He brought it back for us and we were thrilled that we could now have not one, but two earthworm bath farms!

Fast forward a couple of weeks and we were busy putting up our fencing around the new garden plot. Just outside what would become our gate, was a pile of junk waiting to be removed and taken to the tip to be collected for recycling. Kathy and I wondered over to inspect the pile and as Kathy pulled the tarp back we could hardly believe our eyes. You guessed it: another bath!

So there you have it: want it, let it go, let it come: in abundance! Much like the nature of Nature. Have you ever seen a seed that grows and gives back only one seed? Nah. Nature is abundant. Also, we know that Nature wastes nothing. Everything lives and everything dies. And in the dying and decomposing, new life is born, and so it goes. When we mimic this we realise that some people’s junk become other people’s treasures. Reducing waste. Re-using and re-purposing everyday items. It all adds up and helps to keep things out our landfills – while saving money in the process.

Ok, moving on to the fun part: Setting Up A Worm Farm in a Bath (or three)

If you aren’t convinced about starting a worm farm, here is an article about why we love worms and the benefits of having them in the garden.

There are a number of ways you can set up your worm bath, depending on your desired outcome. To maximize the space you have, I would suggest dividing the bath in half with bricks down the middle. You then feed on one side and when that side is full, move over and feed the other side, allowing the worms to naturally migrate over. You can then sift the castings from the original side and use the castings in your garden. When the second side is full, you start again at the original side, and so it goes.

We have chosen to feed the worms in the middle because we want to end up with a huge bath of thriving worms and castings. We then want to use the castings and the worms to set up mini worm farms in each of our beds.

Either way, you will need pretty much the same things.

1. Gather your Supplies.

Here is what we used:

  • Old Bath
  • Cardboard, newspaper & egg trays
  • Leaves and garden waste
  • Food scraps
  • Worms & worm castings – for earthworm farming it is best to use Red Wrigglers
  • Wooden planks
  • Old wooden door

A word on Worm Tea

If you would like to collect worm tea, you will need to place your bath on bricks and put a container under the drain fitting to collect the tea. While on a tour of various worm farm operations a few years ago, I was told by a very successful large scale operation, Mother Earth Worms, that to get the best quality worm tea, the first collection of the tea should be poured back into the worm farm with the castings and allowed to filter through 2 or 3 more times. The tea then needs to be actively aerated to get the microbes going and used very soon after this.

We have decided to leave the tea with the castings because we want maximum moisture due to the drought we are currently experiencing.

A word on where to place your worm farm:

Worms like to be in a cool spot so find somewhere with a good deal of shade to set up your worm farm. It is also a good idea to position your worm farm as close to your kitchen as possible. Feeding your worms kitchen scraps needs to be effortless.

2. Lay Cardboard Down at the Base of the Bath.

  

Cardboard, newspaper and egg trays are great additions to your worm farm because they create pH neutral zones. 

If the pH becomes too acidic the worms will seek out a neutral zone and hang out there until the pH balances out again. After feeding your worms, cover with cardboard/egg trays/newspaper to keep bugs out.

Growing Home ~ see how they dig to hang out in the newspaper?

3. Spread some Dry Leaves and Garden “Waste” on Top of the Cardboard.

This gives a nice base of decomposing matter to the worm farm which helps to get things going. It also assists in keeping bad smells at bay.

4. Feed your Worms!

Red Wrigglers will eat almost anything from your kitchen as well as manure from rabbits, horses and cows – but they prefer not to have the following:

  • Too much acidic foods such as onion, citrus, pineapple, etc. Having said this, I have met a number of worm farmers who say they don’t mind it at all. The truth is, throughout the decomposition process, the environment will turn from acidic to more alkaline the possible back to acidic then alkaline, and so forth. During this process, the worms will move away from too much acidity  and seek out a more neutral environment (hence our pH neutral zones we created with the cardboard, etc). If you really insist on feeding your worms acidic foods then make sure you chop it up to speed up decomposition.
  • Processed Food such as bread, pasta, etc
  • Meat & Dairy Products – which will also attract flies and other pests.

Some of the Red Wriggler favourites include –

  • Butternut and pumpkin
  • Used coffee grounds (just make sure you break it apart and mix through with your other scraps as wet coffee grounds tend to go mouldy/acidic)
  • Rabbit manure

Whatever you feed your worms, it is a good idea to chop it up into small bits to help speed up decomposition. Earthworms don’t have teeth. They use bits of rough particles around them to assist them with “chewing” through and processing the food scraps.

Kathy’s guava trees at Mimosa Urban Farmstead, produces enough guavas for all her animals (including the neighbourhood squirrels) as well as our worms!

Growing Home ~ kitchen scraps before chopping

Growing Home ~ kitchen scraps after chopping

5. Spread the Kitchen Scraps Over the Leaves.

We just used the spade to start with. Later you can feed them by just tossing their food on the pile then covering to keep out bugs and nasty smells – which you will only get if you happen to get a mould issue. To rectify this, take out the problem area and add lots of paper/cardboard to create a neutral pH zone.

6. Add Your Red Wrigglers

If you can, get some castings along with your worms. This way, you may just get a few cocoons containing eggs in the mix, which is always nice. If you can only get worms don’t worry – they will get to work without a problem.

Growing Home ~ An Earthworm Egg Cocoon contains 1 – 20 fertilized eggs, depending on the maturity, health and moisture content in the soil.

At first, the cocoon is quite soft. Soon after it is deposited in the soil it becomes slightly amber, leather-like, and very resistant to drying and damage. Cocoons are very tiny, and the shape of a lemon. They can survive underground until conditions are right for hatching.

Young worms hatch from their cocoons in three weeks to five months. This also depends on conditions like temperature and soil moisture. Hatching is delayed if conditions are poor, and cocoons may overwinter in soil to hatch in the spring.

 

 

Growing Home ~ Worms and castings spread over their food, ready for a feast!

Growing Home ~ Look at those happy little Wrigglers!

7. Cover your Worms with Newspaper/Cardboard/Egg Trays

As we mentioned earlier, this will keep bugs and other critters at bay. It will also help to keep your worms cool.

Growing Home ~ The newspaper will keep things cool and prevent bugs from getting in. Don’t worry, worms don’t mind eating bad news!

          

8. Place Planks on the Sides of the Bath and Cover

We used an old wooden door to cover our worm farm. The thing to remember is airflow – you don’t want things to get too stuffy in there.

When rain is expected, we will cover our worm bath with some plastic just bigger than the bath to allow sufficient airflow and to prevent our worms from drowning.

And there you have it: a worm farm in a bath!

We hope you have enjoyed this diy tutorial – let us know if you have any questions or comments below.

Till Next Time,

Happy Worm Farming!

Shireen & Kathy

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