Composting - Worm your way out of work

You can worm your way out of doing the work needed for making good compost by combining composting of kitchen and garden waste with worm farming. Worms compost rubbish faster than any other composting method.

Place a standard plastic compost bin (with lid) available at most hard ware stores in a sheltered spot in the garden preferably with protection from extreme heat or cold.

Prepare a nice bed of shredded cardboard, newspaper or coconut fibre for your worms.

Order your worms.You will need about 500 grams. Compost worms are commonly known as Tiger or Red worms but their official name is Eisenia fetida. They differ from Earth worms, Octolasion cyaneum, in that are especially adapted to decaying organic matter and they do not burrow into the earth. You can order over the internet or check out advertisements in gardening magazines.

Once your worms have arrived introduce them to their new home ASAP and feed them their first bucket of scraps from the kitchen. Worms will happily munch their way through most organic matter and they are best fed little and often. As with composting be mindful of food waste that would attract flies and rodents such as meat and dairy products. I like to place a layer of newspaper over the layers of kitchen waste. This protects the worms from the light when they are feeding as they are photophobic. It also helps contain any odours, though a good working worm farm/compost heap should be odourless. Every now and then treat your worms by putting a light sprinkling of lime on top of a newspaper layer.

Your worm farm/compost heap should remain moist i.e. not too wet or too dry.

As they layers build up in your bin have a little poke around the bottom (your bin should have removable trap doors at the bottom) to see if there is a layer of nice dark crumbly worm-casts there. If so it is time to remove a bucketful to add some worm magic to your garden. Fill a bucket with the worm-casts (worms and all), leave to stand for an hour or so. The worms will naturally head down to the bottom of the bucket because of their photophobia. When there are no worms on the surface remove the layer of worm casts and place where required in the garden. Pop the remaining worms back into the bin.

Continue with this method ad infinitum. You may end up producing too many worms for one bin so either start another bin or consider giving friends and family a unique gift. Wriggle your way out of that one!


Wairere Nursery
826 Gordonton Road, R D 1, Hamilton 3281 Ph: (07) 824 3430 Email: