Sunday, 9 September 2007

Grey Water Worms

In an effort to use more of our grey water we are diverting from the waste pipe that enters the sullage tank. However this pipe has all the grey water; from both the bathroom and kitchen going into it.
The kitchen grey water contains some fats and food debris and is not considered safe to use straight onto the garden without some form of treatment.
On researching this topic I came across a method using a worm farm. As our outlet pipe from the kitchen was easily accessible we are trialling this method.
Doc cut the pipe (and sealed the remaining pipe) and diverted the grey water into the Dog Pen area through the iron 'wall'.
From here it goes into a box which houses a composting-worm farm with.

So while Doc was doing the blokey bits of this setup (See Here) I got on with building the worm farm side of it.

The theory is that any food scraps will be left behind on the surface of the worm farm to be consumed by the worms and they also keep the surface area from becoming clogged.

The worms live on top of a sectioned off area of rubble and gravel to allow complete drainage. There is a hole on the bottom of the box to allow full drainage of the 'cleaned' water. This can be collected in a bucket or have a hose attached to run this water straight onto the garden.

Points to remember when using any grey water:
You should always check with your local council and water authority before planning any grey water system.
It is best to use this water on non-edible plants or fruit trees/vines (as in grape).
Never allow the water to touch anything that will be eaten
Don't allow pets (including chickens) to have access to it.
Keep the outlet area well mulched to prevent any odours.
Move the outlet hose regularly to prevent undesirables building up.
Be careful in your choice of cleaning products and soaps. These will be going onto your garden!



A purchased storage box was used to house the worms. The black plastic recycle bins would be good but we couldn't source one locally.
Holes where drilled in the side and on the bottom. The box is off the ground.
Shade cloth used to act as a filter over the bottom hole.



The bottom was filled with rubble/gravel for drainage.



A layer of shadecloth was used to separate next layer
and an old seedling container used for stability,



The bedding for the worm farm is a mixture of sandy loam, cooled compost,
cocoa peat, shredded paper and worm bedding and of course worms.


A cover was later added over box to keep the flies out, the rain off but still allow some air in.
So far the water draining through this system has no smell and has been put onto grapevines in the Dog Pen Gardens.
The system will be monitored closely over the next few weeks to see how it performs.



I have used composting worms from my existing worm farm for this project. These are compost worms that live near the surface and eat semi-composted food scraps.
Worms can be separated from their bedding (for moving) by piling some of their bedding onto newspaper that is left in a sunlit area. The worms don't like sunlight so will dig themselves under the bedding. By carefully and slowly scraping the bedding away you will end up with a tangled mass of worms ready to be moved.

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