Worms – the external kind

“I’m off to buy a worm farm”.  The volume was unnecessary as I was alone in the room.  The urgency was necessary because too much thinking can sometimes spoil the moment.

When I planted four tomatoes last year, the quantity was questioned.  It seemed a lot for one person and, admittedly, chutney was expected to be on the menu by now.  But with low summer temperatures and so little sunshine, I needed all four plants.  Not one produced a bumper crop.  Unfortunately, the recent Canberra downpours left in their wake three plants with rotting, pock-marked fruit.  The fourth only survived because it lives under the eaves.

In the bush tradition, worms are fish food.  My siblings and I spent many a happy dig in the garden, filling up old tins for Dad to take fishing.  For that, I don’t feel guilty.  Leaving them on rain drenched sidewalks to bake in the sun … If I feel guilty leaving the odd one on a sidewalk, how guilty would I feel starving thousands of them to death?  So, I only bought 500.

I made sure that none were stuck to the plastic bag before I threw it in the rubbish. 

Hopefully, my change in diet this year will produce enough scraps to keep them going.

The instruction leaflet puts an argument for preventing all food scraps going to landfill, even if you live in an apartment or don’t have a vegetable garden.  In council landfills, as much air as possible is removed.  Air is space and space is money.  This absence of air produces what they call anaerobic conditions, which leads to the creation of acids and methane gas when food breaks down.  The methane contributes to greenhouse gases.  The acids leach into the soil and potentially into the groundwater.

In contrast, I can avoid the anaerobic and my worms can create beautiful nutrients for my garden.

This small, black, round, plastic farm was my spontaneous response to the tomato problem, but I’m now unsure how many tomatoes will get recycled.  Turns out, the worms have to munch through most of the starter bedding first before I can feed them.  I should have bought the recommended minimum of 1000.

This story is not the best evidence for my problem-solving skills.  Instead, it’s an example of my “grab-the-opportunity-regardless-and-then-make-it-work-somehow” frame of mind.

 More information about worms and worm farms:




I loved Josh Byrne’s stories on Gardening Australia, but I’m afraid his worm farm was a bit high tech for me.  I’m including it here in case it works for you.