Worm farms

Page last updated: Tuesday, 26 September 2023 - 12:59pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Use of worm-castes and leachate

The worm-casts (also called vermicasts) are rich in organic nutrients including nitrogen, minerals and soil beneficial microbes and enzymes. The term vermicompost is used for vermicasts that also contain some uneaten worm food (scraps), and is also more likely to contain egg capsules and immature worms. Incorporating a handful of worm-casts or vermicompost into the soil at the base of a plant will provide the plant a nutrient rich mix with superior water holding capabilities. Worm-casts can also be used to enrich potting mixes or poorer soils. Mixing about 25% of quality worm-casts to the soil will improve the nutrient and water holding capacity of the soil and provide sufficient nutrition for about 6 months of healthy plant growth.

Leachate is the liquid that has passed through the worm farm system and been collected at the bottom. This can be applied as a powerful fertiliser to plants using a watering can. Dilute 1 part leachate to 9 parts water. A powerful liquid fertiliser can be created by mixing worm-casts with water at a rate of about 20%, shaking vigorously and leaving to soak. This mixture should be shaken again after a day and allowed to settle before the liquid is drained off and used in the garden.

Other organisms in the worm farm

Snails, slugs, ants, cockroaches and slaters may be present in your worm farm. They generally don’t interfere with the worms, but you should bury the food scraps to discourage them.

Ferment flies (small flying insects), oribatid mites and psocids (book lice) can occur when the bedding is overfed, too damp or acidic. Reduce feeding, water less or apply sprinklings of dolomite or lime to reduce the acidity.

If you see little worms in your worm farm, they could either be young composting worms, nematodes or entrachyadids.

Young composting worms are translucent white at birth and look like threads of cotton just a few millimetres long. Within a few days, however, they begin changing into their characteristic red-brown colour and are entirely self sufficient from birth. Entrachyadids and nematodes are little white non- segmented worms and are harmless, but they may indicate acidic conditions.

If large maggots are seen in your worm farm, these may be soldier fly larvae. Don’t be alarmed if they appear as they too are beneficial to waste breakdown, but can be controlled by reducing the acidity.

Unfamiliar pests

We are on the lookout for animal and plant pests, diseases and weeds that could pose a threat to our agricultural industries and the environment.

If you discover something unfamiliar please contact our Pest and Disease Information Service (PaDIS).

Specimens can be submitted in person or posted to Pest and Disease Information Service, 3 Baron-Hay Court, South Perth, 6151, WA. Please refer to our Sending specimens for identification page, call us on +61 (0)8 9368 3080 or email for guidance.

Our department has also developed a number of apps which can be used to report unfamilar pests and diseases. Click the links below to download an app, or to make an online report:

MyPestGuide app - Allows you to identify pests and report your observations.

PestFacts WA Reporter App - Report observations of pests and diseases in your paddocks to the Western Australian PestFacts newsletter editor.

Alternatively, photos of pests, weeds and plant diseases can be sent via email to padis@dpird.wa.gov.au