Introduction: Worm Farm - High Rise

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Make sure you check out my other worm farm with volume!

The High rise Worm farm

There are three parts to a worm farm,

1 The basement sewer, (that we love to empty for our plants delight)
2 The middle floor bedroom (we sleep too you know)
3 The top floor dining room (food has to be involved)

In this high rise farm the different rooms are separated by individual containers, this is not always the case as you will see from other worm farm in-structables, but is by far the easiest to do the house keeping on.

The Worm farm in this in-structable, was constructed from Polystyrene boxes of the type commonly seen in the back yard of butchers, grocerys and fish shops in New Zealand and Australia.

Step 1: What You Need

What you will need;
Minimum of three polystyrene boxes, (in my case they measure 100cm x 60cm x 60cm with 2cm thick walls with lids and a bead running around the top of the box which meshes with the lids)

-A plastic tap with washer and nut
(Or some means for controlling and dispensing the contents of the basement box) of the
-A cutter of some description
(For cutting the boxes)
-A drill and drill bit to match the external diameter of your tap barrel.
-Bricks or wooden blocks the width of the containers
(Producing sufficient height when stacked to get a bucket under the tap.)
-Two halve bricks or stones
(Extra for weight)
-Marker pen
-Bedding material
(Shredded white paper, light cardboard or coconut fibre)
-Food scrapes
-Extra stability (optional)

Step 2: Construction

Choose a sheltered outdoor location, ideally up against a building on a stable surface out of the wind.

Take the first container (drawing 2) and drill a hole approx 1cm above the inside base in the center of one end, to fit the shaft of the tap, screw it in to place and place the washer and plastic nut on the inside and tighten, then jack it up on the blocks sufficient that the tap can be accessed.

Step 3: Construction

Place the bedroom container on top of the basement container and using the pen mark out where the raised lid bead lays.

Then cut a channel in under side of the bed container down the length of the box just deep enough to capture the bead when you place the box back over the first, and to allow the box to sit snuggly with no gap

Repeat this process for all other levels.
(I did consider cutting the bead off but decided to leave it on despite the hassle to increase the stability)

Step 4: Construction

Using the drill, with no greater than 15mm drill bit, cut a series of holes in the base of all containers excluding the Basement to allow the worms to move around the upper stories of their high rise

Step 5: Construction

Place the bed container on top of the basement container (seat down well) and fill the bed container with bedding of choice. If its shredded paper or cardboard fill to over flowing then hose down with water and refill to over flowing. Do not use newspaper or glossy paper as these both contain a lot of ink. Periodically during the life of the high rise you will need to add more bedding.

Step 6: Worms Move In

Technically speaking there are at least two types of garden earth worm;
- The strong and daring that live in the top layers of the soil and leaves
- The deep dwellers who prefer to deep and dark, coming up only when the rains make it the only option.

In theory the first kind are the right ones for the job in our high rise, however the only time actually brought the right ones ( hardware stores and garden centers in NZ) was when i had my first "can of worms" a very good commercially produced Rolls Royce of indoors worm farms. since then i have just recruited direct from the garden and the all seem to look the same and do the same...

so choose the source of your workers and add them to the bedding to sleep off the jet lag.

Place the food container on top, and about 5cms of food across its bottom, a liter of water to wash it all down and plonk on the lid, and keep and eye on proceedings every couple of days.

About every week you will need to;
1)Ensure the basement is emptied. This is great liquid fertilizer and is often called worm pee
2) Pour about one liter of water in to the food container making sure to disperse this over its entire length, to keep the worms moist and help keep their bedding clean (and ultimately creating the worm pee)
3)Ensure that the bedding material still reaches the base of the food box
4)Add more food to the top box as you did to start with.

Step 7: What Do Worms Eat?

Always over feed your worms as they only breed when there is plenty of food, and if where possible break the scraps down in to small pieces, if you are really keen the worms will love you for putting it all through the blender first - as they do not have teeth at all but wait for the bacteria around to break it all down in to slurpies for them.

so any thing that takes ages to break down is not really good worm food. (ie Citrus peels, teabags and onion skins ) On the other hand things like juicer remains, and pre made slops that you have spun up in the blender are always a treat.

Step 8: How It Works

How it works
The worms move up in to the feeding box chomp and gradually turn your offerings in to lovely sweet smelling worm casts, some of the nutrient value of which runs through in to the worm pee box.

Eventually the worms will fill the dinning room with worm casts at which point it needs to be emptied.
1)Reserve about 5cm of the worm casts
2)Give the dinning room a heavy water this brings the most of the worms in to air seeking mode either on top of the dinning room table or back in to the bedding.
3)Empty the rich worm casts to a use of your choice
4)Top up or replace the bedding material depending on condition
5)Start the process again by adding the 5cm reserved worm casts to the bottom of the dining room container and all the rescued worms to the bedding

Obtaining worms
If you are starting fresh then then you need worms. Technically i understand there are at least two types of worms in New Zealand, those that live in the humus (compost layer) and those that live deeper.

I have always used the compost worms without difficulty, trapping them by placing pieces of carpet or commercial 40 litre bags of potting mix (how i discovered this) flat in the garden for a few days to a week, then harvesting when i lift.

You can also by worms in a box from some garden stores / Hardware stores

Worm Reproduction
Well feed worms make more worms... as simple as that - you can if you look closely see little white eggs,(cocoons)hence the reason for including handfuls of worm casts in any new start.

There is plenty of information, regarding worms on the Internet - it pays to get to know your workers just like any big boss.

Comments

author
AnnabellaMarie (author)2015-11-04

I'm in southern Arizona, in the USA. It's hot, dry and very windy. Is this feasible? (I don't have a garage) Also, could you post a picture of the polystyrene boxes you're using? I'm not sure what you're talking about, but I want to do it!

author
agatornz (author)AnnabellaMarie2015-11-09

probably not feasible with poly boxes, no.. but since i did that design i have a found a far better one in the form of and old bath tub - check out my instruct able on that one.... i imagine using a metal one would work well ( avoid the cast iron ones are they are heavy!!) ... and put a nice thick layer of carpet on top...

if you found the wind and heat was still causing a problem... i know straw bale housing is big out your way.for nice cool comfortable places.. . perhaps building a nice straw wall around it to shelter from the wind?

author
maireid (author)2009-07-31

We have a commercially built worm farm. We got it just two months ago, and the worms are thriving. It is round, and has 4 levels, sitting on legs. We are only using 3 levels at this stage. They say it will take a year for the 1000 worms to multiply before we'll need the 4th level. We plan on using the castings in the garden beds next season (see instructable post on Wicking Beds ). I have a friend who turned me on to the worm farm idea. She's had one for 12 years, and she says the 'worm juice' is a potent fertilizer. She recommends using it right away, diluted with water. Because it is very potent, it will go a long way. At this stage in my learning curve on taking care of them, I blend the veggie cuttings before serving it to them. My friend says I'm spoiling them, but to me it seems more efficient for them to get to the food.

author
agatornz (author)maireid2009-07-31

Hi there,

Good to get your feed back! :-)

yes the commercial bins are excellent particular for indoors and for starting off, they do have their limitations however too - the key to worm farms pretty much is:the more space = the more food = the more worms = the faster there is a useful outcome. hence the reason I have since gone to bath tub worm farms ( check out my post on that subject - or search my user name )

i give my worms away to beginners all the time and it only takes a very short time to return the numbers to normal.. like men if they are well feed they are happy and in the case of worms the population thrives.

you can tell your friend that you are doing the right thing when it comes to "spoiling" your worms... because worms don't actually eat the raw vege scraps that you put in there they wait for the microbes and bacteria also in there to convert it all in to liquid.. so in a small worm farm like you have that activity is going to be small and slow.. so you are jumping a step and speeding things up significantly .

yes the worm water is great... i have heard of people watering it down., personally i don't from my bath farm... but yes use it fresh.

what part of the world are you in >

cheers will
New Zealand

author
maireid (author)agatornz2009-07-31

I'm in Melbourne, Australia - out on the N.E. edge.
Nice to have your confirmation on my preferred way of feeding the worms.
The booklet gives a recipe for fattening the worms. If you want it I'll type it out for you. Let me know.
We intend putting worms in the wicking bed soil when the numbers are higher.
The 'official' name for the system is wicking worm beds.
Here is the link: https://www.instructables.com/id/Wicking-Beds/
Cheers!
Maireid

author
agatornz (author)maireid2009-08-01

hi, wow some one on our side of the world for a change, fond memories of the five years i spent living in east melbourne a few years ago, can certianly relate to the wicker method all though i seem to have left my green thumb over there around holsglem some place ( did a dip hort there) ... i am not having any trouble fatterning my worms up in the bath farm.. plenty of food for all but perhaps you would consider poping that information up in and instructable around your own systems for others> i can only recommend the bath method, it will certianly get you massive results very fast compared to the smaller layered you currenlty havce:-) cheers will

author
strmrnnr (author)2009-06-09

Do you know if the worm pee produced has a shalf life? What happens to it if it is stored in a sealed jug?

author
agatornz (author)strmrnnr2009-06-12

no idea... i tend to use my fresh .. and if any thing all the good little critters that live in the stuff that help make it great fertiliser would probably die eventually...

author
irrilia (author)2008-09-06

Would you use the casts for your yard?? The soil I mean?

author
agatornz (author)irrilia2008-09-06

hi there, yes thats the aim with a worm farm - when the worms have filled thier feeding chamber full of nice worm casts then you either feed them out of the chamber or flood it so they come to the top - (so you can keep your worms and then use the cast in the garden - same as you would with compost - nutrient rich soil) of course the bigger your worm farm the more soil is produced and the more worms live their - the more food they have the more the make baby worms;-) so my in bath farm ( also detailed here) produces cast s on a scale that make it worth while adding to the garden where as a smaller farm will take ages to do the same....

author
irrilia (author)agatornz2008-09-07

My yard is about 1/2 an acre....would it be worthwhile??? Thanks!:)

author
agatornz (author)irrilia2008-09-07

Hi there, it will always be worth it ....however the speed at which worm castings are produced to "ready to be spread" is directly proptional to the size of your worm farm/farms - the number of worms - and how well they are feed. if you intended to completely build your garden beds out of worm castings then i say it would take a while and you would have to be pretty darn keen - better to construct the beds from compost and sweeten with worm casts as they come avalible... or - even better build no dig gardens( see my other instructable of that name) think of worm castings as a natural organic fertiliser .... to get any where near making a lot of castings you would first want to get familar how it all works - and then move in to the bath type farm( see my other instructable ( or even in ground bed type - not something i know about ) cheers agatornz

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