Last summer in Adelaide seemed, yet again, to reach new heights for backyard devastation. We kept our chickens in shape with plenty of shade, periodic hosings-down and ice-blocks in their water. For worm farms however, it seemed to be pure apocalypse, with the black plastic barrels transforming entire civilisations of megadriles into a foul-smelling puree as the temperature climbed above 45 degrees Celsius.
When we recently visited Nirvana Organic Farm, farmer Deb Cantrill demonstrated her snazzy, lo-fi worm farm: an inground bucket, filled with holes. I remember my pal Jeremy describing a similar contraption as a “worm party”. The bucket, buried to its rim, is filled with food scraps and soil, and wild earthworms are free to come and go through the holes as they please, digging into the treats and redistributing the wealth of their castings into the surrounding garden bed. Because the bucket is buried (and the top can be covered with a terracotta pot), when the temperature goes up, the worms can retreat to the cool beneath the surface.
When Sophie was a cheesemonger, she managed to accumulate an enviable collection of buckets that formerly held olives and cheese. We decided to use some of these to make our own experimental worm farm, and install it in our community garden patch.
1. Using a hole saw, we drilled holes in the sides and top of the buckets.
2. We gave one bucket to my mum to try, and took the other bucket to bury in our community garden bed, clearing a bit of space, and burying it up to its rim.
3. I filled the bucket with radish tops, mixed with a little bit of soil, and will continue to add worm-appropriate food scraps (left-over bits from juices, peelings, vegetable leaves, no citrus or onion).
4. Deb Cantrell recommends keeping a piece of damp hessian on the top of the bucket contents to keep it moist and cool. I replaced the lid, put a pot plant on top, and now we wait and see!