Worm farms and the black plague

Worm farms and the black plague is one good cost-effective solution in countries where garbage collection is improperly done.

Worm farms are at first thought only for serious greenies, but in fact they may be the solution to a very serious social problem; the non-collection of garbage from poor areas unable to pay for services.

These little red worms have an incredible ability to turn your kitchen waste into magnificent compost and liquid manure. The organic gardener has a perennial problem of too little nitrogen, and is unwilling to use inorganic fertilisers. The solution is cow or horse dung, chicken litter, and a wormery.

The wonder of worm farms.

By Bernard Preston

Red worms will eat their own weight, around a gram, each day. So a thousand worms, need a kilogram of food per day. That could be potato peels, rotten plums, uneaten rice and even some meat. They love unfinished school sandwiches. In short they will eat almost any left overs from your kitchen, turning it into wonderful nitrogen rich compost.

Red worms have one other amazing ability; they double in number every month. After one month you’ll have 2000 worms, and after two months, 4000. And after a year? Remember the tale about a grain of rice on the first square of a chessboard? The power of the geometric progression yields the astonishing figure of two tons of worms, eating two tons of garbage per day after a year.



These worms are unable to survive on our harsh African landscape, so they aren’t a threat to the environment; they are not going to become an invader species. But they do love the compost heaps that abound in every greenie’s garden; handfuls of them get thrown in regularly.

All that is needed is a discarded concrete double laundry tub or some such. I used an old mould that was no longer of any use, as large as you choose. Fit two standard bathroom outlets and set your worm farm up on blocks in a cool place in the shade in the garden.

One more thought: if you have chickens, the surplus worms provide a wonderful high protein food for your birds. At the rate they expand, you can toss them a handful every day.

Back to Sweetwaters; a black friend tells me that the people are not planting mealies and pumpkins any more; they are devoured by an invasion of rats feeding predominantly on all the uncollected kitchen waste. I enjoy the produce from my green garden but it is a luxury; for them it means starvation if they are unable to grow vegetables. Who is going to be the first to start a pilot plant of a dozen worm farms?

Let us also not forget that it was this very rat that carried the flea that carried the bubonic plague bacterium that devastated Europe about 500 years ago. We are sitting on a time bomb just as explosive as HIV.  Prevention is better than a cure.

Worm farms and the black plague

Our rainbow worm farm.

Worm farms and the black plague is always a threat where garbage removal is ineffectively done because the rats that carry the flea that bears the disease flourish.

  1. Bernard Preston
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