Organic worm juice fertilizer

What really got me into worm farming and using worm juice as an organic fertilizer for my wheatgrass was I found I was producing a lot of waste when regularly juicing fruits and vegetables. I would create a great fresh vegetable juice and would look at the waste that came out the back of the juicer and thought – there has to be a way in which this waste can be used. Could I boil this, strain it and drink it? Could I bury this in the garden? Or could I feed this to the wildlife? Hhmmm I could….. but it is cut up REALLY small, so what has small mouths? – WORMS! I have to admit that this hasn’t really been my best eureka moment but nevertheless it was at this point in time I became committed to giving worming a fair go.

Running your own worm far has three distinct benefits:

  1. Worm farms recycle your waste
  2. You can use the worm castings as great food for your garden
  3. You can use the worm juice

So the feel good factor is you are really recycling the first day that you purchase a worm farm. Even the packaging that comes with a worm farm i.e cardboard can be recycled.

Worm castings take a little longer to produce as ‘castings’ are essentially worm poo. Yes worm poo is great for your garden and can be thrown on top of the soil.

As worms breakdown the food source they produce a liquid that will fall to the lowest tray in the farm. This juice is liquid gold as it works as an amazing fertilizer. The great thing is you don’t need that much either. The ratio should really be 9:1 water: worm juice. However the ratio will differ depending on whether or not you water your worm farm. Sounds weird I know, but the little critters don’t like it to be dry in there so try to keep the environment as moist as possible. As a result worm farmers tend to water worms every now and then – yep it’s OK to give the little guys a shower from time to time. Obviously when you do this the water will mix with other essential elements and end up in the bottom tray. As a result the worm juice will be more diluted. A good rule of thumb is that your worm juice should be as transparent as a weak cup of tea. If you are really unsure make the mix weaker and then slightly make it stronger each time until you find that perfect balance. I have heard from one farmer that when she first started worm farming she forgot to dilute the mix and was wondering why all her plants were dying – so yes too much will most probably do more harm than good.

I have found that worms tend to produce a lot of worm juice in the warmer months and less in the cooler months. This can result in having an oversupply in the warmer months and an undersupply in the cooler months. A good idea is to purchase an airtight container that has a tap attached to it. I purchased one from Bunnings which was about $10. These are great because you can pour the concentrated worm juice in here and store it until you need it. If you do this it is much easier to place a watering can underneath the tap and get the required amount of concentrated juice.

Using worm juice on wheatgrass

A tray of wheatgrass is essentially a tray of seedlings therefore I try not to over fertilize the seedlings. When should you fertilize your wheatgrass? Other wheatgrass growers may fertilize their plants more than I do, but for me I have found that by fertilizing the wheatgrass twice throughout its life cycle is plenty. As a result I tend to fertilize the wheatgrass on the 4th day and 8th day of the 10-14 day cycle. It is also a good idea to give the wheatgrass a good spray with your hose between 4-12 hours after you add fertilizer to your wheatgrass as this ensure the roots have received their nutrients.

Hot tips on worm farming

Check out your Local resources

Check with your local council before running out and buying a farm. I was about to do just that when I discovered that my local council was conducting a free worm farming and composting workshop. The information they provided was great and at the end they let you chose if you would like to take home a free worm farm (obviously no worms in them) or a free composting unit. Given I pretty much live in a tree house I went with the worm farm option and saved myself around $60-90 ~ result! If you live in Australia you should probably check out the living greener government link as this is a great place to find more information about composting, worm farming and living greener in your area.

Purchase a farm that suits your needs

There is actually quite a variety of worm farms in the market – ranging from short to tall – skinny to fat and circle to rectangular designs. The most popular is probably the 3 tray rectangular design however there are also smaller farms to suit those living in apartments. I know Bunnings has a range in most of their stores but if you are not happy with any of these designs then jump online and have a look around as there is bound to be something that suits your need. Deciding on what worm farm suits you will generally come down to how much waste you want to recycle along with how much physical room you have for a farm.

Buy worms from a reputable source

Purchasing worms can differ from location to location. It is suggested that when you start your worm farm to use 2000 worms. Most places charge around $50 for 1,000 worms, so all in all your 2,000 worms are likely to set you back around $80 – $100. However if you have the time and want to save a few $$ the good news is that worms reproduce! One fact that I took back from my ‘living green’ seminar is that worms will actually continue to reproduce until they reach the maximum capacity for their environment. How amazing is that! So where I am going with this is I simply purchased a pack of 1,000 worms and let the little guys get their groove on and within 2 months I had myself a full farm. When purchasing your worms it is important to buy them from a reputable source. I have to admit Bunnings – you let me down. I went to several of their stores and looked inside a couple of the boxes and there were no worms to be seen. I am not sure if they were dead or what the problem was so I decided to visit my local nursery instead. Funnily enough the worms that they were selling were actually the same brand and product as the one on the shelves in Bunnings however here the box was full of worms moving around and doing their thing. You can also purchase worms online and I have heard great stories about people purchasing tubes of worms online and when opened there was big fresh and healthy worms. The choice is completely up to you!

Expand your worm farm if one is not enough

Is one worm farm enough? This is a really good question as you will find that soon enough you get the “Green Bug” and you will want to recycle all organic matter that comes your way. Watching your waste turn into liquid gold is a great feeling but you shouldn’t over feed your worms. So how much is too much? Well when I first started worm farming I found that by making a liter of fresh vegetable juice there would be enough food to last the worms a week. As the worms reproduced and were more comfortable in their environment I found that I could increase this to twice a week. So… the problem I have is I produce organic waste every day! This meant that I was wasting 5 out of the 7 juice leftovers (not to mention paper and dinner waste). What was the outcome? You guessed it – my family of worms soon doubled. I purchased another farm, set up the bedding and simply grabbed a few handfuls of worms from my old farm and dropped them into their new home. Every month I grabbed a few more worms and added them to my new farm – allowing both farms to continue to reproduce to reach full capacity. All in all I can now happily say that now my worms eat approximately 70% of my family’s organic waste. So what do I do with the remaining waste? I bury the left over waste directly in my garden and you’d be surprised how quickly this breaks up. Alternatively if you have a composter you should add the waste to it or make your own composting unit at home. Options options options!

Make the time to worm farm it is really that easy

I know what you are all thinking – when will I have the time to do all this with my busy schedule? Once your farm has been kicked off and started the effort to maintain this is minimal. For example instead of manually cutting up all your waste – you can chuck this into a blender with a bit of water and chuck this over the worms… still too much effort? Then start juicing fresh vegetables. You will feel better for this and the food that the worms receive is already finely diced for them. Simply take the container that your juice leftovers is in, open up the lid to the worm farm and thrown in the waste. In reality that took you about 30 seconds. If you want to run with the bury the waste option and you don’t want to have to go to your garden every time you decide to chop up some veg then I suggest purchasing an airtight container with a large opening. Just open the lid and chuck in your vegetable waste and on the weekend when you have time you can bury it all in one hit.

Leave the nozzle of the tap open at ALL TIMES

I am not a strong believer or using caps lock but really you must leave this open. Failure to do so will result in your wonderful worms drowning. Put simply the bottom tray will fill up and you’ll flood out the second (home) tray of the worms.

Give the worms a blanket

Believe it or not you can purchase specialty blankets for worm farms. These retail around $10 however you can get away with an old hessian bag or an old blanket. Simply chuck this on top of your worms and give it a quick spray with the hose. You really want to keep this as moist as possible as this will stop the worm farm from drying out.

Feed your worms the right amount and right kind of food

Worms eat pretty much anything however it is strongly advised to avoid citrus and acidic foods. I.e don’t feed them garlic, onions, chilli etc. They do eat paper but it is best to ensure that the paper is shredded and wet/moist when you drop this into the farm.

That is about all I have to say on the matter or worm farming for wheatgrass. Like anything I mention on this website ~ there is not a hard and fast rule to what you should do but I do suggest giving it a go as there is no hard in trying. Worm juice is not only good for your wheatgrass it is good for all other plants so why not try it and see for yourself.