Revealed: The secret of a great garden even in the dry
GYMPIE green thumbs Maurice and Joyce Shanks have kept their Nahrunda Park garden looking healthy despite the drought.
Their secret? Worm wee.
And the Shankses strongly encourage others to give it a go. They say that by having a worm farm, every gardener will be helping the environment by reducing the amount of household food waste landing into the rubbish dump by effectively utilising and transforming scraps into nutritious plant food for their garden.
Maurice purchased a commercially-made plastic worm farm that has three layers, all of which have different roles with a tap positioned at the base, standing on legs are readily available at hardware stores and nurseries.
He found the ideal location, positioning the worm farm near large trees on his small acreage block at Nahrunda, as worms require protection from heat, frost, heavy rain and machinery due to them being sensitive to vibrations.
The three worm farms are beneath a small shed, and have been permanently covered by shade cloth with them facing hot, humid afternoon sun as the temperature needs to be around 20 to 25 degrees .
Maurice has successfully made his worms the best bedroom ever using materials such as torn newspaper, cardboard, leaves, chopped up straw, other dead plants, and good quality soil with this tray being filled approximately 15cm deep.
Applying water to the bedding mixture is crucial as it needs to be kept moist, but not wet, before adding worms.
Composting worms (usually red worms and tiger worms) are incredible garbage eaters with a huge appetite, and are different from the earthworms you find in the garden.
Gardeners should only acquire a small number of worms as they are known to rapidly increase with the adult worms producing up to 12 offspring a week providing the area is well maintained.
Composting worms will eat fruit (except citrus) and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and tea bags, leaves, small amount of bread or pasta, moist cardboard and newspaper. They cannot tolerate onion, garlic, chilli, dairy, citrus fruits, meat and bone, fish, oils or grease, dog or cat faeces.
There is another layer above the bedding tray where the food items are placed to feed the composting worms. Maurice puts some soil on top of the food trying to avoid attracting vinegar flies.
After a few months gardeners will experience great joy collecting worm wee by simply opening the tap at the bottom of the farm and diluting by using half a litre of worm wee to nine litres of water for a rich plant fertiliser.