How to Create Your Own In Ground Worm Station
“Not another pet!” I hear you moan. I know. I get it too. I can’t handle the thought of cleaning a fish tank or a bird cage either. BUT THIS IS DIFFERENT! I know I know - you’ve heard it before - “it will be totally ME looking after the guinea pig Mum!” Yeah right. But this REALLY IS different.
An in-ground worm farm is the easiest way to introduce another animal into your menagerie. PLUS it will improve your soil, stop your kitchen waste heading to landfill, reduce your need to purchase compost or fertilisers and if you DO end up on that 7 week round the world trip you’ve been dreaming about - there’s no kennels or house sitting required. Simply pack your bags and jump on that plane! Your in ground worm station will be totally fine without you. Sounds amazing you say! But since you are saving up for that dream holiday you can’t afford to go and drop $80 on a worm farm at Bunnings? Well here is how to make your own…
A large clean plastic container with a secure lid. An old nappy pail bucket, plastic drum bin or even a mega 9L ice cream container will work.
An electric drill
A jigsaw (you can use a stanley knife but a jigsaw does make it super easy if you can borrow one)
HOW TO CREATE YOUR OWN WORM STATION:
- Drill holes into the side of your bucket with your drill. The holes need to be small enough that worms can get through but not rats. There’s no magic number or pattern but I drilled about 9 holes through each side of my 15L square tub.
- Cut the base of your bucket out. I made a small hole in the centre with the drill and then used a jigsaw to cut the rest of the base out.
Where to place your worm station:
Find a spot in your garden where you’d like to encourage worms to transfer nutrients directly to your plants root zone. It should be a little shaded and preferably in a spot that’s easy to dig. You also want it to be not TOO huge a walk from your kitchen. Make it easy for yourself!
HOW TO INSTALL YOUR IN GROUND WORM STATION:
- Dig a hole in the ground big enough to place the bucket in. The lip of the bucket needs to be just above ground level. Put the soil that you’ve dug out in a pile near your station.
- Place the bucket in the hole. The lid of bucket should be above the ground.
- Loosen up the soil inside the bucket if your soil is very compacted.
- Add worms to the base inside of your worm station if you wish. I’ve not done this - I’ve just built the station and the local worm populations have moved in. Free and easy!
- Add some moist shredded paper or cardboard (ripped up into pieces about the size of the palm of your hand) for worm “bedding”. It should be like a squeezed out sponge. Place inside your station to about 10cm in depth
- Every week (or twice a week depending on how many worms you have) add some kitchen scraps. Each time you add scraps add a small handful of the worm “bedding” first (moistened paper/ ripped up cardboard). You can also sprinkle a small amount of the spare soil from the hole you dug on top of the scraps to deter fruit fly etc.
- At least once a week aerate your station. Gently turn the soil from the bottom to the top.
- Shut the lid and you are done!
- Don’t used glossy or waxed paper in the worm “bedding”.
- Don’t feed your worms: meat/dairy (attracts flies and can smell), large amounts of citrus, tomato, pineapple, dog manure. Those items can unbalance your soil acid levels.
- If the scraps aren’t being eaten you either have too many scraps or not enough worms! Adjust either accordingly. Chopping your scraps into smaller pieces also helps the worms to break them down quicker.
- You can keep a wet washer on the top of the inside of your worm station to keep it cool and moist over Summer if it gets really hot.
- A compost turner makes aerating your station very easy and can be purchased for about $20 from most garden centres.
- Reduce chemical use and heavy synthetic fertilisers in your garden - they can poison worms and beneficial bugs in your soil.
CARING FOR YOUR WORM STATION-
When the station is full and the worms have turned all your scraps into composted soil you can pull up the entire station and dig it into a new spot into your garden. Remove the top half of soil from inside the worm station and set it aside - this will have the majority of worms in it that you will want to move to the next spot in the garden. Find your new shaded spot and dig a hole - add the soil with all the worms - add new shredded paper as bedding and you are ready to start again!
If you want to leave the station in the same spot simply remove the top half of the soil where all the worms are inside your station and set it aside. Dig the bottom layer out and spread it around your garden as a nutrient rich mulch. Then refill with the “wormy soil”, add new bedding and you are ready to start again!
If you are really enjoying the process and want to have worms composting your scraps and spreading the nutrients all throughout your garden - now you know how! It’s easy to make multiple stations like this and have them spotted throughout the garden. It's also the easiest "pet" you can own.
Now - go tell your neighbours that you've got worms!