Worm Farming - A Living Minefield?
Recently someone asked for informtion via our forum on commercial scale worm farming. At around the same time a Permaculture Magazine reader was requesting an article on the same topic. It seems that real information is hard to come by on this subject. So I began a little research, having recently acquired a small scale Can O'Worms garden wormery of my own.
A trawl through what came up on Google makes depressing reading. There are quite a few companies out there who will supply you with an expensive working system for your own small needs, plus the worms to go in it. I opted for a three tier stacking system that looked to be easy to operate, and, mostly, that has proved to be the case. The progress is pretty slow though. After six months we have still not made it to the top tray, but I do have a pint or so of liquid feed. However some of that may be due to rainwater getting in through the top ventilation holes - I have now solved this by a cumbersome system of spacers and a flat board on top, held in place by several bricks against the gales we suffer up here in the Welsh mountains.
This has made it harder to access and feed the little darlings. Why they can't design a top that keeps out the rain and lets the air in I can't fathom. But hey - ho. I also had to stand all 5 legs in pots of water to stop the ants getting into the womerry - they don't affect the worms but they will eat the eggs. The pots then fllled up with autumn leaves, so I am not at all sure how effective my water barrier has been. Also the pots are now frozen solid. I did fit an insulating jacket round the structure at the onset of below zero weather, but as the top is now frozen on and immoveable, I have not been able to see if the worms are also deep frozen.
You are no doubt becoming aware of some of the pitfalls of an outdoor wormerry on a small scale.
Now imagine you decided to make use of some land to raise
worms on a more commercal footing. Tempted maybe by the promises of large companies to provide you with expertise and buy your worms at a handsome price. Apparently many people have done this in the last few years. It seems that most of them have come seriousy unstuck, For the full picture I commend you to read Rupert Segar's article in the Daily Telegraph: 'Can You Make a Turn From Worms?"
Most people agree that you can only do this successfully by raising worms indoors. Machinery for sorting the crop is hideously expensive, and cheap imports of worms make it hard for UK producers to compete. Well, bearing that in mind, you will no doubt be wary when looking at the current crop of 'get rich quick' quasi-ecological schemes that infest the Internet at the moment. Many of these come with extra 'bonus' offers of all kinds of other 'green' handbooks, and most are priced around the 17 dollars mark - rather a lot at the current exchange rate for a couple of dozen pages. Mid Wales Permaculture Network requested one such model for scrutiny and the publisher obliged with the ebook, but turned down the offer of us publishing an article by him on worm farming on our site on the grounds of being unqualified. Below is our impartial reviewer's opinion of the ebook.
e-book review : Worm Farming - Beginners Guide to Starting a Worm Farm
Publisher; E van Eeden/ www.howtowormfarming.com
Price : 17 dollars
ISBN : None
Format : PDF
Pages : 26
Why would anyone be interested in starting a worm farm? Nowadays, there are many people that are concerned about the environment. Worms fit right in because they provide fertilization to the earth.
The first paragraph of Worm Farming - A beginners Guide to Starting a Worm Farm, and a very good first paragraph, asking a question, answering it and providing interest to the reader.
Unfortunately, that's about as good as this e-book gets. After the first few pages, I was beginning to think that this was a homework project for school, by page nine I was seriously thinking that Roz had played a practical joke on me by asking me to review it.
I did however persevere to the end. The book is repetitive throughout and never really gets down to any practical advice or guidance. It soon became apparent that the author has no real understanding of the subject, and getting to the last page shows the sources of reference used. All the sources are Canadian based, and having looked through them I realised the author has copied information from the internet, changed a few words (and in some case the meaning by doing so) to make it look like his own words, and finally has pasted it all very loosely back together.
At the foot of each page, there is a link to a web site that purports to be an e author resource. Unfortunately, all I could see were get rich quick schemes related to the internet and web sites.
I couldn't in all honesty recommend this e-book for anyone to read (I didn't even pass it to my wife for her comments).
If I were this authors teacher, he would get 2/10 for being able to cut and paste and 0/10 for understanding the subject and doing proper research.
If you want to know about worm farming, you'll get more information from Google.