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An up-close look at a worm farm and how it's helping the soil

Worms, we love them and actually really need them and so, we foster them.

Of course, we're talking about the types that live in our soils - keeping busy aerating and cycling nutrients making them more available to other members of the soil food web and to the precious plants, which we happen to depend on for a good portion of our survival.

DID YOU KNOW: Keeping food scraps out of landfill and returning them to the Earth isn't just about benefiting your patch, it's also wonderfully effective in preventing methane emissions - a toxic gas up to 28 times more harmful than C02.

So when you're composting, you're taking part in a meaningful climate solution.

Compost worms are incredibly beneficial to the soil. Picture: Shutterstock.

Compost worms are incredibly beneficial to the soil. Picture: Shutterstock.

In one worm, there is around 474,075 million bacteria, which do an incredibly important job, mainly making minerals available.

When compared to the parent soil (the original soil), worm castings (the worm's poo) have approximately:

  • Seven times the available phosphorous
  • Six times the available nitrogen
  • Three times the available magnesium
  • Twice the available carbon
  • One and a half times the available calcium

The key word used above is 'available'. The worms do not magic these minerals into existence, they were already present in these quantities, however the worms have changed their form by digesting them (which involves all that bacteria). This process makes them available to plants as the minerals have been changed from being an insoluble form to a plant-available soluble form.

So this is why people keep worm farms - the castings and diluted worm juice (the liquid that comes out of it) are an invaluable fertiliser for food crops.

A quick and important note, worm farms can only house compost worms, not your common earth worm you see in the garden or lawn.

Compost worms are red wrigglers and tiger worms - you can buy these from nurseries, but you can usually find them at your local school/community garden if you ask nicely. Do not put the common earth worm into a worm farm - they will die.

There are lots of ways to create a worm farm in your own backyard, from wheelie bin worm farms to building your own worm farm bench seat - you just need to decide what worm farm is best for you.

Video courtesy of Hannah Moloney and Anton Vikstrom, founders of Good Life Permaculture, a landscape design and education enterprise regenerating land and lifestyles on lutruwita country in Tasmania.