I have found some interesting information and a supplier who is based in Gin Gin, Queensland. I am not sure how his prices compare to others but he does have a variety of species in his mix.
Compost Worms and Farms
OUR COMPOST WORMS:: Kookaburra Worm Farms
Our Compost Worms consist of a mix of up to 5 species.
1. Tigers - Eisenia Fetida
2. Reds - Eisenia Andrei
3. Blues - Perionix Excavatus/Spenceralia
4. Gardeners Friend or Cod Worms - Amynthus Sp.
5. European Night Crawlers or Catchall Crawlers - Eisenia Hortensis or Dendrobaena Veneta
We are the only worm farm in Australia that includes Gardeners Friend Worms and European Night Crawlers in its compost worm mix.
The reason that we use up to 5 species of worms in our compost worms mix is because some species do better in warmer weather, whilst other species do best in colder weather. By combining all of these species your worm farm will work more consistently througout the different seasons of the year and be overall a more robust worm farm.
1. & 2. TIGERS AND REDS:
These 2 worm species are the most commonly used worms for composting in the world. They are generally good at all aspects of vermiculture. They breed quickly (1 worm will produce 9 worms per week under ideal conditions), they eat virtually all dead organic matter that they can fit in their mouths, they make reasonable fishing bait and they survive well under both hot and cold conditions, although the tigers and reds will slow their breeding in bedding temperatures over 25 degrees C.
These are the ideal allrounder worms. On the downside, they don't grow much over 50mm long.
3. INDIAN BLUES/BLUEYS:
Also known as Spenceralia, an Australian native, this worm species is the fastest breeding worm in general composting use (1 worm will produce 18 worms per week under ideal conditions). This worm also eats faster than any other worm we have come across. If you want to convert organic waste into worm compost in as short a time as possible, then you can't beat this worm. On the downside this worm prefers warmer climates and is likely to crawl from its bedding if conditions are not right for it. The Indians can grow up to 150mm long.
After talking to some fisho's we now understand that the Indians make quite good fishing bait, being very active on the hook and very attractive to native fish.
4. THE GARDENERS FRIEND OR COD WORM:
The Gardeners Friend or Cod worms are even larger than the Africans and are the best soil-structure builders. This worm is a true earthworm and we believe it to be an Australian native. It prefers to live in soil rather than compost. (Pictured on the right, a couple of Gardeners Friend or Cod worms)
We have been extremely impressed with the ability of this worm to build wonderful soil structure creating a truly aggregated soil. These worms appear to prefer to eat the worm cast produced by the compost worms. They then take this worm cast and deposit it along the tunnels that they make, deeper within the soil profile. The soil they build is like swiss cheese. Full of well defined tunnels zig-zagging underground, lined with nutrient rich worm cast. These tunnels are the ideal pathways for plant roots to follow as well as allowing water to percolate through, allowing for thorough wetting of the soil profile. The Gardeners Friend or Cod worms are probably also the best fishing worm in Australia being extremely lively and very tough on the hook. On the downside these worms are slow to multiply and are difficult to breed.
5. THE CATCHALL CRAWLER OR EUROPEAN NIGHTCRAWLER/DENDRO:
These worms are new to commercial production in Australia with Kookaburra Worm Farms being one of the first and certainly the largest producers. These worms have an enviable reputation throughout Europe and the America's as being one of the finest fishing bait worms available.
Don't be fooled by their medium size or their stripey red colouring. These are definetly not overgrown Tigers. They are scientifically called the Eisenia Hortensis or Dendrobaena Veneta worm. We have done extensive fishing trials with these worms and have consistently caught far greater numbers and varieties of fish. One controlled trial showed that African Night Crawlers caught 2 fish, Cod worms caught 6 fish and the Catchalls caught 36 fish, using 2 identically rigged rods, fished in the same spot over the same period of time.
They work equally well in saltwater and freshwater. Typical species caught with these worms include Bream, Whiting, Flathead, Estuary Cod, Javelin Fish, Trout, Murray Cod, Yellow Belly, Silver Perch, Australian Bass, Catfish, Carp etc.
STARTING UP A WORM FARM FOR RECYCLING ORGANIC WASTE:
For small scale domestic worm farms like the "Reln Worm Farm", "Can-O-Worms" or "Tumbleweed Worm Farm", we recommend initial stocking rates of 1000 worms per household member. So if you have 4 members in your household, your worm farm would work best with 4000 worms.
Stocking with smaller numbers of compost worms will still be ok, but it will take longer for your worm farm to start recycling your organic waste efficiently.
MIXED COMPOST WORMS - BAG O WORMS & COMPOST WORM BOMBS:
We breed and supply our compost worm products as a MIX of compost worms, containing up to 5 species of worm. This mix is naturally subject to some slight seasonal variation. Our compost worm products are suitable for a variety of applications, and are suitable for a variety of climates.
We have TWO types of packs for our compost worms:
1. The premium "Bag O Worms" which have mature, adult worms, and
2. The "Compost Worm Bombs" which are a budget pack containing worm eggs only.
We now sell our Bags of Worms (mature worms) in lots of 1000, 2000 and 4000 worms.
We also supply a "Helpful Hints for Keeping Compost Worms" information sheet with every order.
All of our worms are sustainably bred utilising waste product from the sugar industry as a food source. Our worms are bred in a climate controlled environment, enabling us to produce worms all year round.
Compost worms that are shipped in bulk quantities are packaged in woven bags with a special bedding material. The bags are then placed into cardboard boxes, sealed and sent via Australia Post regular mail. We can deliver to anywhere within Australia.
BAG O WORMS - Wholesale quantities of 5 bags:
Bag O Worms - frontThe Bag O Worms has been designed to complement the Can O Worms worm farms and all other worm farm brands. They contain 1000 of our best variety of compost worms.
This product consists of 5 woven poly bags with 1000 compost worms in each. The bags have attractive graphics, full printed instructions on the back and a shelf life of up to 6 weeks (longer with some simple
The Bag O Worms have been specifically designed for the retail shop. They look good, have a comparatively long shelf life and are very convenient for your customer.
Our research has shown that you can sell up to 5 times as many worm farms if you have the complete package of a worm farm PLUS the worms.
GARDEN WORM BOMB - GARDENERS FRIEND & INDIAN BLUE WORM EGG CAPSULES (an Australian Native Duo):
**PLEASE NOTE - THESE EGGS ARE ONLY FOR INNOCULATING GARDENS, ORCHARDS AND FARMS. THEY ARE NOT RECOMMENDED FOR BREEDING IN SMALL WORM FARMS**
This is an exclusive product to Kookaburra Worm Farms as we know of no other worm farm in the world that has these egg capsules for sale.
The Gardeners Friend worms are the BEST worms for your garden, orchard or farm. They are true earthworms (as opposed to compost worms). They will acclimatise to almost any conditions.
These egg capsules are the perfect way to innoculate your garden, orchard or farm with these fantastic soil structure building worms. We have found that adding live worms to a different environment to which they are used to leads to very high mortality rates. We have overcome this problem by using worm egg capsules instead. When the worms hatch out of their egg capsules, they are immediately acclimatised to their new environment and we have been able to achieve very high survival success rates.
These egg capsules are surprisingly small for such a large worm (that is why we can't get a photo of them).
We mix these 2 species of Australian native worm eggs to achieve a synergistic effect in your garden soil. The Indian Blues eat and live in the surface layer mulch and quickly make great worm cast. The Gardeners Friends then eat the Indian Blue's worm cast and take it deep down into the soil profile to create highly structured fertile soil. These worms will also attract other native earthworms to your garden acting as a kind of earthworm magnet.
We collect these egg capsules fresh each week. They are mixed with course worm casts and have been counted prior to shipment.
We provide seeding/inoculation instructions.
The Kookaburra Worm Farm has been trading for many years. They were well underway when we visited the Eco Village outside of Gin Gin back in the early 2000s.
I have bought worm eggs from him but have no idea whether the eggs hatched into baby worms or not. I have not been keen to dig around in the beds dodging roots, to see whether I've got a lot of worms or not.
Some of his prices are quite steep - take the Little Rotter for instance. There are many other designs able to be made by oneself (or Darren!) that will do the same job at a fraction of the price.
Yet he has products no one else has. He seems to know what he is talking about and going on the worm eggs I bought, his products are well packaged and arrive in good condition.
I have no hesitation in recommending him for worm supplies.
When I started growing food I was very naïve and used to think that earthworms were all the same. I kept a worm farm for a while, and then put some of them into the garden soil thinking that they would multiply and help the soil. I couldn't understand why they disappeared! It is embarrassing to think how little I understood.
I don't keep compost worms anymore, It's not that I don't think that they are worthwhile, but I can't be bothered to share my kitchen scraps with the compost bins, and keep an eye on the conditions they need to thrive in.
I also don't keep chooks, but this other use for kitchen scraps I would be glad to provide for if I could just get the time to build another chook house. One day!
I love proper earthworms. The big fat earthworms which come into your garden if you have the right conditions for them. "The Gardeners Friend" or " Cod Worms", according to Dianne's article. They do a great service for us when we have conditions which suit them. In my containers, they thrive. I can keep the soil moist and provide composted manure that will keep them munching away, processing the soil for free. Although I also treat the soil in my raised beds in the same manner, the worms just don't seem to be around in large numbers in these beds. I think that this is down to the difficulty I have in keeping my raised beds moist enough for them. My baths, laundry tubs, polystyrene boxes, sacks, etc. seem to be ideal habitats. I only use a garden fork when incorporating manures in these so that I don't chop them. My friends the earth worms will always be very welcome in my garden.
We have noticed that a lot of arts are getting into our Worm Farms. Do they do any damage to the Farms and how can I keep them out? I have the black type worm farms that have towers, they have legs that keep the towers above the ground but they are climbing up the legs and getting in.
We do not know if the ants cause some damage, but you could put some dishes of water under each leg of the worm farm. Some of the worm farm makers have made their farms with water trays under the legs.
Vasoline around the legs is another way to stop ants. However, if they are in their now, they may have nested. I haven't noticed that ants do any damage in mine. Sometimes they are they and sometimes not.
Thanks everyone for your input into my ant problem, most helpful. I will try out all tips.
I've heard that ants (and uncles ;-) are attracted to dryness. Perhaps running some water through the worm bed? Keeping up the moisture content? I had those repulsive soldier flies coz it was too wet and too acid. I figured I was not going to win that one; fortunately the red compost worms have established themselves under the compost bins.
The Kookaburra Worm farm seems to be a very professional outfit and look to be selling a great product.
A couple of years ago when I was just starting with my worm setup I found a local supplier close to me in Warwick Neil Burnley who has been supplying worm for a couple of decades and more.
I have since gone on from the plastic towers to a larger setup and still only breed red wigglers but apart from a massacre of epic proportions that I inflicted due to ignorance and inadept stewardship they have grown and thrived with not a lot of fuss.
I sell a $5.00 takeaway container size of worms from the farm gate stall for people to get started with. It's not a mainstay part of the business its more for encouragement and accessibility for people to start their gardening/compost journey.
The video below is an interview I did with Niel a couple of years back ....really interesting fellow ... an amateur race car driver and a bagpipe player he has got some great stories.
Great video, Russell, thanks for sharing. We gave up on our worm factory, our management system failed, blame the manager. We found that the soldier fly laid eggs in the mix and made it yucky.
We still have the same setup as your tiered lot. You have inspired me to have another go at it. This time I might use an old blender to grind up their food scraps. It is one way of being more reliant on what food you can recycle on your plants such as worm pee etc.
We do use the deep bottomless pits with lids to dispose of our doggy poos, no worms in them, they just decay into the ground.
It's possible the soldier fly like a more acid environment than the compost worms. Try adding some lime/dolomite and see if that makes any difference giving more worms and less soldier fly.
You do not have to get a sophisticated as a blender ..... I did when I started but now I take the bucket of food scraps ( i use a tough 20-litre ex-commercial container ) add water I have a spade that I have sharpened an edge up on and give it a light chop in the bucket ... I then dump it into my wheelbarrow with an equal amount of animal manure and give another mix and chop ... I make it wet but not soggy ....... that could be a source of the problem for you attracting soldier fly if it is to wet it does not breathe ..... I regularly turn my bins to help aerate the material.
My bins are 1.5 x1,5 x 300 and I break them up into 500 mm strips the new material goes at one end and I keep working it down to the last strip whereby that time it has fewer worms in it so I can harvest the material with a sieve I have made up to separate the worms and material.
Good advice Russell, We have been trying to think of ways to make our gardening practices easier, and I feel that worms do the hard work and we as humans can reap the best part - worm made liquid fertilizer. My dream was to hire a large drill type digger, and dig an open hole about 30cm or more wide and a metre deep. Fill that with a compost type mix and cover with dirt. Then later on, plant a tree in that location.
Between the worm juice and some leaf tea brew we may get away with less spending as we get older. Sounds good, now I just have to put in a good word with a rain dancer.
Elaine, That is a good idea, I had forgotten about that additive, it should change the acidity and plants will like that as well. Maybe our multi-million ants also like to be calmed down with some dolomite. Never have we seen so much small ant activity on this block. They are in the house now. They are not a dirty insect and I don't mind them so much, but they seem to nurse scale and that white woolly bug that are invading many of our plants.