Glenaeon Garden Culture - Worms: The Humble Servants of our Soil

18 January 2024

The words Humble and Human have their origins in the Latin word Humus (soil). Dig a little hole in any of our garden beds and you’ll surely find some wriggly and lively worms. Whether in compost heaps or worm farms, finding them gives the students an animal to interact with that’s not always part of their home life. We notice their delight and fascination with this squirming animal: how quickly it moves, the colours, the size. They bring a sense of wonder. There is something familiar in the texture: it is shiny, soft and wriggly like our tongues!

“These worms are wonderful creatures: they leave to the earth precisely as much ethericity as it needs for plant-growth.” 
Rudolf Steiner, GA 327: The Agriculture Course — Lecture VII

These subterranean animals leave life in the soil for the plants. They work in cooperation with the soil. The worm is regulating the soil by eating what is meant to be decomposed but not so much as to destroy the life value for the plants.

So how are we bringing this to life in Glenaeon’s gardens?

● We're making healthy soil: This humble servant is a necessity to break down all the discarded food waste that is high in nitrogen. The worms make this beneficial soil for us in cooperation with all the other insects, grubs, earwigs, springtails, nematodes, cockroaches and millions of microorganisms that we can't see, representing a life force that makes the soil lively and healthy for plants to grow and to feed insects once again.

● We're making a learning-scape: A student friendly atmosphere that enables this excitement to embrace and learn of life. What a joy it is when preschool and kindy students say “I want to see the worm farm! I want to see the compost! Let’s feed the worms.” 

The students learn to care and take responsibility: the worms need water, they need to be fed with scraps, leaves and grit when we keep them in a domesticated ‘farm situation’.

They get to see the worm eggs and learn that the liquid that comes out of the worm farm is a medicine we call a fertiliser that will enrich the soil that plants are growing in.

● We’re working with the senses: The tactile sensation and ‘wriggling’ of worms is confronting to some students. They grow comfortable with the notion of having a worm in their hands when they see other adults or students relaxed with the interaction. This is a simple but profound opportunity for students to develop resilience for challenging sensations.

 We're encouraging social responsibility: Families living in apartments can have a worm farm and create healthy soil. It can then be used in pots, or taken to a favourite tree at the park, or given to friends. The act of creating an environment for the production of soil is empowering. “What can I do to help the climate crisis caused by food waste?” - make more healthy soil!

Want to know how to set up your worm farm at home? “Show more” below!

See you in the Garden!

Sandra Frain…..and Parent Volunteers
Gardening Teacher 

How to set up your worm farm at home

What you’ll need:

●     A worm farm (ideally from the side of the road or second hand) or at your local hardware store - check with your local council for discounts too

●     A shady spot

●     A handful of soil with worms in the bottom tray (please contact Sandra if you need some to get started)

●     Fill up each tray with 1/3 nitrogen (greens: fruit and veggie scraps, food leftovers, coffee grinds, tea bags, fresh grass clippings) and 2/3 carbon (browns, dry leaves, paper, cardboard)

●     Water 4 litres once a week to flush out the layers and keep the conditions moist and habitable for the worms - use the diluted liquid (10 parts water 1 part worm juice) in your soil for your plants as a fertiliser

●     Add food scraps in the top layer

●     Check layers once a week, if you see spiders or cockroaches, needs flushing/water

●     If it smells or there are flies, add baking soda

Watch Gardening Australia’s Costa make a worm farm, click here.

For support and advice on worm farms, and any other garden questions - please feel welcome to contact Sandra: