There are oodles of ways to live sustainably at home, and if you’re looking for a pet project with eco appeal, consider a kid’s worm farm!
This basic build brings new discoveries, responsibilities and rewards as your child collaborates on the construction and learns to care for worms, plants and our planet.
Worms need to be kept comfortable and properly-fed, and in return, they transform kitchen scraps into gardening gold, and teach your tyke about natural recycling and rubbish reduction.
Here’s an eco-friendly and economical way to make a worm farm for kids.
1. Collect your materials
Old materials can be upcycled, and you’ll need:
- Three styrofoam fruit boxes of equal size, with one lid
- Sawdust, coconut fibre, mushroom compost or cow manure (aka ‘bedding material’)
- Some shade cloth to cover one box
- A bunch of compost worms (not to be confused with garden worms or earthworms).
Styrofoam is non-toxic and helps to shield your worms from lethal temperature fluctuations, and you’ll find compost worms at places like Bunnings.
2. Construct your worm farm
Choose a shady spot for your worm farm, raised a little off the ground, so you can fit a bucket under one end to catch the worm juice.
Poke some holes in the bottom of Box #1 and #2. These ‘feeder boxes’ will house your worms, so once the holes are in, line Box #2 with newspaper, then bedding material, and set Box #1 aside for now.
Make one hole low down in the corner of Box #3. This box catches worm juice from above and drains the liquid into your bucket, so if you’re feeling fancy, add a bit of hose or a cork ‘tap’ to the hole.
Next, lay shade cloth over the top of Box #3, stack Box # 2 on top and add your worms! Spread them out gently, cover with some damp newspaper, then pop on the lid.
3. Care for your worms
Worms need about a week to settle in, so fill in this time with some fun worm facts (for example, your child will be fascinated to learn that worms have five hearts).
Once the week is up, it’s time to start feeding.
Your worms will happily motor through a balanced diet of fruit and veg scraps, teabags, coffee grounds, damp bits of unwaxed paper, crushed-up eggshells and vacuum cleaner dust.
They don’t like spicy, oily or acidic foods (like citrus and onion); and dairy, fish and meat are off the menu, too.
Worms don’t have teeth, so their food needs to be cut up, and over-feeding is a no-no. Wait till they’ve eaten half their food before adding another thin layer, and always remember to keep the bedding material damp and temperature constant.
If a heatwave’s predicted, drape damp hessian over the whole farm, and if you’re going on holiday, fill the top box with straw/shredded newspaper to keep your worms topped-up.
As your wrigglers eat and poop, Box #2 will slowly fill with worm ‘castings.’ When space is getting tight, stack Box #1 on top, add some bedding material, and wait for your worms to migrate north.
4. Care for your plants
Worm by-products are dynamite for your garden. Worm juice is a concentrated liquid fertiliser that needs to be diluted with water, and castings are a biologically-active, slow-release fertiliser, perfect for pot plants and garden beds.
As well as being a ‘Worm Investigator,’ your child will enjoy being ‘Chief Watering Can Operator’, and it’s fun to bottle ‘Worm Tea’ with kid-designed labels, then share it around.
You can also share worms, and there’s continuity of learning when your tyke tends to a worm farm at home and at child care.
Lots of centres have a sustainability focus, and Toddle is committed to helping families and providers have a positive impact.
As Australia’s most trusted child care comparison site, Toddle puts eco-friendly, budget-friendly and work-friendly options at your fingertips.
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