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Worm Farming

Kitchen waste and garden waste can be regenerated to produce wonderful compost and other by-products that enhance soil fertility. This is cheaper and more sustainable than paying to transport biodegradable waste elsewhere, and spending good money on compost and chemical fertilisers - as happens in this humourous look at 'conventional' gardening: ┬áThe Suburbanites‌.

Worm Farming (Vermicomposting)

Click on the links below for more info:

    1. Build your own

    2. Buy a worm farm

    3. Worm Farm Facts 

    4. More good reasons for worm farming

    5. Useful resources

1. Build your own

Create your own worm farm. It could be a 'tower' of old car tyres, an old cooler box or tea box, or large bin with lid and drainage hole/tap. When it's ready, get a handful of worms from a friend or from the SHE Officer. Here are some ideas:

2. Buy a Worm Farm

Some suppliers in the Eastern Cape:

  • Salem Crossroads (just outside Grahamstown, at turnoff to Kenton-on-Sea): Shane Viljoen 072 990 2345

  • Janis Lister, Bedford: 046-685.1064, 082-871.7715, jan(at)dragonflydell.com

  • Michelle's Garden Shed Nursery, East London: +27 84 798 6249, michellesgardennursery(at)gmail.com

  • Early Worms, Cedarville: Peter Earle, 039-757.5593, 082-347.3463, earlyworms(at)live.co.za

Some suppliers in other parts of SA:

  • Earthworm Buddies, Gauteng: Ken, 072-533-0304, info(at)earthwormbuddies.co.za

  • Earthworms R us, Durban (KZN): 031-266.1843, 083 309 3304.

  • Full Cycle - Can-O-Worms, Noordhoek, Cape Town: 021 789 2922, 086 618 8865

  • Wizzard Worms, Greytown (KZN): 072-102.1636, 033-413.1837, donblacklaw(at)greytown.co.za

  • WormFarming.co.za, Gauteng: Johan, 082-299.3276 / 078-133-5786, sawormfarming(at)gmail.com

  • Worms Galore, Gauteng, KZN, Free State: Ashley 082 854 8661, wormsgalore(at)vodamail.co.za, or Cape: Lesli 083-266.5275, wormsgalorecpt(at)gmail.com

3. Worm farm facts

  • Eisenia worms - known as 'red tigers' or 'red wigglers' - break down organic kitchen waste and create 'vermicompost' and 'vermi-tea'. 
    • Vermicompost: dig into the garden or use in potting soil.
    • Vermi-tea: dilute 1:10 in water and use as a liquid fertiliser for garden and pot plants.
  • Worms like: Organic materials such as fruit & veg scraps, avo pips and skins, egg shells, tea bags, coffee grinds, paper scraps, bread crusts, shredded paper, card, sawdust, kraal manure, grass cuttings (in small quantities), leaves, etc.

The more you feed your Eisenia worms, the faster they multiply ... which means you can share them with friends and colleagues who want to start their own worm farms.

  • Worms DON'T like: Animal protein, milk products, oil, fat, acidic items (like onion, pineapple, lemons, garlic, chilli, etc), non-biodegradable and domestic waste.  

  • DNA research at North-West University (2012) found Eisenia andrei in more than 10 worm farms in 4 provinces in South Africa. E. andrei (the 'red tiger') grows and reproduces more quickly than E. fetida, so is the most useful for worm farming.

  • Eisenia is from the northern hemisphere but is generally considered to be non-invasive.

  • Eisenia is 'epigeic' - it lives near the soil surface, in compost or leaf litter - unlike the indigenous South African earthworm which burrows deep down into mineral soils.

    Largest earthworm in the world - the Giant South African Earthworm, Microchaetus rappi - lives in the Eastern Cape. The record length is claimed to be 6.7 metres.

4. More good reasons for worm farming

Patrick Dowling of EIGSA (Earthworm Interest Group of Southern Africa) says: 

  • A worm farm works well with a little care and maintenance.
  • It is cheap and the high-value components – the worms – replicate themselves readily, so starting small is no problem.
  • Worm castings can be used on lawns and gardens - with great benefits.
  • Landfill sites (legal and illegal) will not fill up so fast.
  • Landfill sites will produce less methane.
  • Transport fuel costs are much lower - no need to cart organic waste away.
  • CO2 emissions are reduced - because less fuel is used.
  • Less food waste is flushed into already overloaded sewerage systems – which means better water quality and less aquatic eutrophication (oxygen-starved water systems).
  • Worm farming is educational and appeals to the imagination - which leads to creative environmental thinking.

5. Useful resources:

Take Action

Go to the Rhodes University ENVIRONMENT front page. Suggestions/Questions? Contact environment(at)ru.ac.za

Last Modified: Thu, 10 Aug 2017 15:20:49 SAST