Worms and Compost


Costa has been transforming the Tembeleski family’s typical suburban backyard into a garden that every Aussie home should have. There are seven in the family including four young boys, and a baby sister. They can produce up to 2.5kg of green waste a day. The plan is to turn this waste into a useful resource to help the garden thrive.

The aim is to set up a  worm farm and composting system to deal with all the family’s green waste.


Worm Farm

A great way to dramatically speed up the composting process. When you’re setting up your worm farm, there are a few basic steps to help get the best results. The farm usually has a number of layers.

•    First build a home or base layer in which the worms can live while they get established. To make this simply use some compost or potting mix and a thick layer of special coir fibre or bedding mix.

•    Composting worms are a little different to the ones you’d normally find in your garden. They love the rich environment of a compost heap but have to be kept moist in order to thrive.

•    To get you started buy worms at your local hardware store or nursery.

•    Add the second tray or layer and in it put a little more compost and some food scraps. Then you’re in business.

•    Put a blanket on top to keep your worm farm dark and moist

Wicking Garden Worm Farm

Costa designed three wicking beds for the backyard and the plan is to add a mini worm farm to each bed.

•    The first step is to make the mini worm farm. Costa used 150mm pvc storm/sewer pipe cut to the depth of the soil layer which is approx 300mm. He drilled 10-12mm holes in the bottom 150 mm  of the pipe and paced a threaded joint on the top so that a lid could be screwed on. These holes allow the worms to move in and consume the kitchen scraps and then move out to digest the garden soil and turn it itnto rich castings for the vegies to thrive on.

•    Another simple way to create a garden bed mini worm farm would be to use a 250mm or 300mm pot. Cut the bottom out and again drill some holles in the bottom quarter of the pot.Dig this into the soil in the garden bed removing the soil inside. Then add some compost and scraps, cover with soil and a piece of hessian to keep it dark and moist.

•    Dig a hole in the garden and place the mini worm farm into it.

•    Then add compost, food scraps and finally some worms to the container.

•    The worms can move freely between the garden soil and the worm farm through the holes. But best of all it is another place to deal with the Tembeleski’s kitchen waste.

Compost System

Because the Tembeleski family produces lots of food scraps they also need a composting system. Remember that it’s vital to get your composting system off to a good start. Making compost is a little like baking a cake and so you need all the right ingredients.

•    Get a compost bin and in the base put a thick layer of dried leaves and twigs, these are high in carbon and known as brown materials.

•    On top of that add some broken down green waste, then some healthy garden soil, and chicken poo or pellets.

•    Add a good spray of water and your compost will have all the nutrients it needs to start breaking down food scraps.

•    Add organic matter, such as kitchen fruit and vegetable scraps, which are high in nitrogen and are usually called green materials.

•    As a general rule anything organic can be added to compost, but avoid adding meat that will smell and attract pests.

•    Remember to keep an eye on your bin to ensure the balance between the green and brown materials is right. Too many kitchen scraps and it might become smelly, so if this happens add some drier ingredients. If it’s too dry, nothing will happen, so add some green materials and or some water. 

•    Keep your compost bin well aerated, plenty of air will help the breaking down process. A good rule of thumb is to do this every couple of weeks.

•    You can always add compost activators such as comfrey and yarrow to help what’s inside break down more quickly.


Good nurseries stock worm farms and compost bins, ranging in size and price.

Sustainable Gardening Australia has an excellent article on The Science of Composting

Peter Rutherford is a compost and worm farming authority. For information and workshops visit:
Eco House and Garden
Mona Vale Rd Ingleside NSW.
Ph: 02 94863512
Contact :Peter Rutherford

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