How would you like to have a workforce working 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, non stop all year, not asking for any pay, holidays, superannuation, increment payments, overtime, meal allowances, travelling expenses, on site allowances, dirt money, clothing allowances or for that matter - ANYTHING!!!

A workforce which will provide you with more workers as required, stabilise their own numbers to the optimum figure required for the job in hand, never go on strike or complain, are not noisy or intrusive on your privacy, are reliable and have millions of years experience in what they do and therefore do it better than anything science has been able to develop to date. LIKE THIS IDEA ?????


The only responsibility you have is to feed them your rubbish, do not poison them, keep them moist and protect them from predators.

In return they will provide you with natures own programme for producing plant nutrient, give greater self reliance, a more cost effective recycling performance, in the long term more income for your produce, and most important of all, a natural biological improvement in your soil, better water retention, less erosion and less dependence on chemicals.

The essence of the arrangement is to use the correct species, the right methodology, determination and time. After all, that's what nature does.

For example, if you wish to convert waste products to effective plant nutrient, then use Reds, Tigers and African Nightcrawlers (COMPOST WORMS). African Nightcrawlers are also excellent live bait for fishing. If your aim is to improve pastures, small crops, orchards etc. the worms you need to encourage are from the FIELD WORM species.

Earthworms make topsoil- earthworms can turn coarse manure, straw and other organic matter into fine rich topsoil. They do this by eating the organic material and turning it into rich worm cast (vermicast).

Earthworms break up organic matter and mix them into the soil.

Earthworms introduce many billions of beneficial bacteria into the soil.

Earthworms improve the crumb structure of the soil by creating soil aggregates.

Earthworms markedly increase soil fertility by achieving 5 times more Nitrogen, 7 times more Phosphorus, 3 times more Magnesium, 1.5 times more Calcium and 11 times more Potassium.

Earthworms break up earth mats in pastures, soften soil compacting (when well mulched) and break down thick layers of leaf litter.

Earthworms increase the ability of the soil to hold and maintain moisture levels i.e. soils stay wetter longer.

Earthworms allow better penetration of water, oxygen and plant roots into the soil.

Earthworms assist to reclaim damaged land.

Earthworms will markedly improve the availability of nutrients to all plants Nitrogen, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Phosphorus, Molybdenum are all many times more available to plants in worm casts than in soils with no worms. Worm casts also create a more neutral pH.

Earthworms make channels to allow plant roots to penetrate into the soil.

Earthworms can increase plant growth and crop yield - by at least double.


Always keep soil well-mulched, especially in summer and the drier times of the year.

Provide plenty of food. Add cow, horse or pig manure to the soil. Allow plant litter to remain on the soil surface. Bury kitchen scraps in holes 20-30cm deep scattered throughout the garden. If you want an initial rapid build up in population, you could provide extra food via food pellets such as those fed to poultry, horses or domestic animals.

Keep the soil moist at all times. Be careful not to over-water so that the soil becomes too saturated and earthworm burrows become flooded.

Soil temperatures should be kept between 12 degrees C and 25 degrees C.

pH should range between 4.5 and 8.

Do not use pesticides or chemicals which could harm the earthworms.

Be careful not to cut the earthworms up with spades, forks etc.

Provided they have plenty of food and moisture, earthworms will stay in the area where they are placed.


Presoak dried grass clippings or peat moss for 24 hours and squeeze the excess water out. Add manure that has aged past the heating stage, compost (aged past the heating stage) or dried sewage sludge (beware of chemicals) or any combination of the above. This is called "bedding".

Prepare your "Worm Home" by placing approximately 15cm (6 inches) of bedding in the bottom. Once filled, the box should be thoroughly soaked and allowed to drain 3 times. Make sure that the bedding is not heating up, add your earthworms, cover the box with old hessian or carpet, water well through the covering (do not make bedding soggy) and place in a cool dry place out of direct sun or rain.

Earthworms will feed on any decaying organic matter e.g. manures, food scraps, grass clippings, fallen leaves, even old pre-shredded and soaked paper and cardboard. Therefore, to feed your earthworms, make a shallow trench down the centre of the box, place feed in it (preferably ground, pulverised, minced or shredded) and cover with bedding. Feed every few days but only when the previous feed has been completely eaten. A light sprinkle of Dolomite may be added on a monthly basis or as required.

The bedding should be regularly watered so that it remains in a moist condition, neither too dry nor too wet. It is best to water either just before or just after feeding.


The following are answers to the most commonly asked questions.

DO NOT cut worms in half. It is not true that two worms will grow. It may grow a new tail.

Worms will stay if food and moisture is provided.

Worms are adaptable to most climates, soil and temperatures.

Under right conditions each adult worm will produce an egg capsule every 7-10 days. These eggs incubate in 14-21 days and produce from 2-20 baby worms. The average being 5.

Newly-hatched worms will mature to breeding age, though not fully grown, in 60-90 days.

Eggs will lie dormant if too cold or too dry. Eggs may be held by refrigerating or drying. To restore - wet the dry ones and warm the cold ones.

The normal length of a Red worm is 7-9cm. They can be fattened for fishing bait.

Worms can live for 10-15 years.

Worms will eat their own weight in 24 hours.

Worms will continue to breed until space runs out.

One thousand worms may produce one million worms in 1 year.


Bruce Howieson
7th Australian Herb Conference Townsville Qld (JULY 2000)

DATE: August 2000

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