Worm farming for beginners is easier than you might think, and it’s a great way to recycle your food scraps and turn them into rich, nutrient-dense compost for your garden.
When you think of vermicomposting (aka worm farming), you might think of those large, commercial-scale worm farms that turn mountains of food scraps into rich, black gold. But what if I told you that you could start vermicomposting in your backyard—or even on your kitchen countertop?
In this article, I’ll cover vermicomposting for beginners – how to make a worm farm, including how to maintain and troubleshoot your worm farm to keep it healthy and fresh.
Whether you’re interested in worm farming because it will reduce your household waste, or you’re interested in creating regular (essentially free) compost for your garden, you’ll find all you need to know about successful vermicomposting in this ultimate worm farming guide!
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What is a Worm Farm?
A worm farm, or vermicomposting system, is a great way to recycle kitchen scraps and turn them into rich, organic compost for your garden. You can set one up in just a few minutes with a few simple supplies, and once it’s up and running, you’ll be amazed at how simple it is to maintain.
Worms are the stars of the show in a worm farm. These amazing little critters eat kitchen scraps and turn them into worm castings which become rich compost for your garden. They’re also great for breaking down organic materials like paper and cardboard, so they’re perfect for recycling your junk mail and old newspapers.
The Benefits of Worm Farming For Beginners
Worm farms are relatively easy to set up and maintain, making them a great option for beginner gardeners who are looking to reduce their household waste and generate a consistent supply of good compost.
Here are Some of the Major Benefits of Worm Farming:
1) Steady Supply of Compost for Your Garden
Worms eat their way through organic matter, such as food scraps and paper, and convert it into nutrient-rich compost. This compost can then be used to improve the quality of your garden soil, leading to healthier plants.
2) Reduces Your Carbon Footprint
Worm farming is also a great way to recycle household waste that would otherwise end up in landfill and release harmful methane gas. By diverting this waste from landfill, you are helping to reduce your carbon footprint and do your bit for the environment.
3) Reduces Trash Odor
Unless you are discarding beef, cheese, or other non-compostable food, worm composting eliminates odor that might otherwise occur in trash.
4) Produces Worm Tea
A by product of worm farming is worm tea (aka worm leachate). Often there is a small amount of liquid that seeps into the bottom tray of the worm farm. This can be diluted with water in a ratio of 1:10 and is a nitrogen rich, chemical free fertilizer for the garden!
5) Environment Friendly
Composting is great for the environment! It’s free, easy and can be done right in your own backyard.
6) Cost-Effective and Low Maintenance
Best of all, worm farming is a relatively low-maintenance activity. Once you’ve got your worms and your worm farm set up, there are no ongoing costs and you can more or less leave them to it.
Of course, you’ll need to feed them regularly and check they’re doing well, but other than that, there’s not a lot of work involved.
So, if you are looking for a way to reduce your waste, help the environment, and produce rich compost for your garden, worm farming is a great option for you.
Worm Composting 101: What Do I Need To Start?
You’ll be pleased to know that you don’t need to spend a lot to start worm composting. You can probably find most of what you need around your home. Here’s a list of what you’ll need to get started:
1) A Worm Bin
This can be anything from a plastic tote to a converted garbage can. If you’re feeling creative, you can follow these simple steps to make a DIY worm farm bin. Just make sure it has drainage holes and a tight-fitting lid.
Alternatively, take a look at the top 8 worm composting bins to find one that will best suit your needs.
2) Worm Bedding
Worms like to live in dark, moist environments. To create the perfect home for your worms, you’ll need to add bedding material to their bin. Shredded newspaper, cardboard, leaves, and compost are all great options.
You’ll need about one pound of worms for every square foot of surface area in your bin. These are not your typical garden worms so you will need to purchase worms when you first set up your worm farm. You can usually find them at your local garden center or purchase online at Uncle Jim’s Worms or Amazon.
4) Food Scraps
Worms are voracious eaters and will gladly munch on your kitchen scraps. Things like fruits and veggies, coffee grounds, and tea bags are all fair game. Just avoid meat, dairy, citrus and oily foods, as they don’t like these and they can attract pests and make your bin smell bad.
Worm Farming Guide: Choosing A Worm Bin
There are a few things you’ll want to consider before choosing a worm bin. The first is size. How much space do you have? And how many worms do you want to raise?
The next thing to think about is what kind of worms you want to raise. The three most common types are Red Wigglers, European Nightcrawlers and African Nightcrawlers. Red Wigglers are great for composting, while European Nightcrawlers are better for people who can’t handle strong odors.
Once you’ve decided on the size and type of worm farm you want, the next step is to choose the material. The three most common materials are plastic, wood, and metal. Each has its pros and cons, so it’s important to choose the one that’s right for you.
- Plastic worm bins are the most popular because they’re light and easy to move around. They’re also relatively inexpensive. However, plastic worm farms can deteriorate in the sun over time so choose a spot with shade.
- Wooden worm farms are sturdier than plastic ones, but they’re also more expensive and may deteriorate in the weather overtime.
- Metal worm farms are the strongest and most durable, but they’re also the most expensive. And because they’re made of metal, they can rust if they’re not properly cared for.
Popular Vermicomposting Bins to Buy for Beginners
The Worm Factory 360 is a commercial-grade vermicomposting system designed to meet the needs of daily feedings, large amounts of bedding and durability that will last for generations.
- Compact and low-maintenance.
- The durability is exceptional – made from high quality plastic.
- The Worm Factory 360 can house thousands of worms that can consume several pounds of waste per week.
- Stands 29.5” x 21” x 14.5”
- Can be expanded to six trays for the largest volume of any home vermicomposter.
- Comes with a 5-year limited warranty.
When it comes to composting at home, it’s important to have a reliable composting system to handle your food scraps. Introducing the unique SubPod composting system.
- The Subpod is designed to be buried about 11 inches into your garden to provide worms and bacteria with a natural habitat for composting. This safe enclosure from hot days and cooler nights is a protected, insulated area in the soil that resembles nature.
- This worm farm, unlike others, allows your worms to enter your garden through a variety of openings in the Subpod walls. They can feed and reproduce as quickly as they’d like because their habitat is not constrained.
- The Subpod may be used as a seat or concealed behind a flourishing vegetable patch because it is discreetly dug into your garden
- The Subpod is lightweight and incredibly robust. Made from polypropylene which is the safest plastic on the market.
- One Subpod is designed to accommodate a family of four and all of their daily food waste.
- Available in Mini (49.4cm L x 45cm W x 43cm H) or large dual chamber
Simply install the Subpod in a convenient area of your backyard, fill with some organic material, add food scraps and let the natural microbes do their job. The end result is a rich, organic compost that can be used in the garden.
When you are ready to take the next step and purchase your first worm composter bin, be sure to check out my article: 9 of the Best Worm Composters: Who Takes First Place?
The Different Types of Worms You Can Farm
There are a number of different worm species that can be used in a traditional worm farm. The three most popular are:
- Red Wigglers
- European Nightcrawlers
- African Nightcrawlers
Each type of worm has its own unique set of benefits for your garden.
Red Wiggler worms are the most popular; great at breaking down organic matter and aerating the soil, while European Nightcrawlers are adept at finding and eating pests like slugs and they don’t smell as awful as others. African Nightcrawlers are the all-rounders of the bunch, helping with soil tilth, drainage, and moisture retention.
Ultimately, the type of worm you choose to farm is up to you. Just make sure to do your research so that you know what to expect from each type.
For more information on the best types of worms for your worm farm, have a read of my complete guide on the Best Worms For Composting and where to buy.
Worm Care Maintenance And Troubleshooting
As with any pet, there are some basic care requirements your worms will need to stay healthy. So below I’ve listed some of the most common maintenance and troubleshooting issues you might encounter in worm farming for beginners.
Worms Drying Out
If your worms seem too dry, add some moisture to the bin. This can be done by misting with a spray bottle, adding a damp towel, or adding more food scraps.
Too Much Moisture
If your worms appear too wet, try removing any soggy worm bedding or food, and adding more dry bedding such as shredded newspaper. It’s also worth checking there aren’t any big holes in the lid that may be letting in too much water.
Worms Not Eating
If your worms are not eating, check to make sure the food you’re offering is fresh and not mouldy. You can also try chopping up the food into smaller pieces.
Another idea is to try a worm blanket. A worm blanket is placed on top of food scraps in the top tray. Composting worms like a moist, dark environment so a worm blanket recreates this, making worms feel more comfortable to go to the surface to break down food quickly and efficiently,
If your worms are trying to escape, make sure the bin is not too hot or too cold, and that there is enough moisture and food. Also make sure your bin has a lid.
Flies On Bin
If you see flies or other pests in the bin, cover the food scraps with bedding material until they decompose.
Conclusion: Worm Farming for Beginners
This worm farming for beginners guide is a great place to start when looking to reduce your food waste. Worm farming is a hobby that can be both fun and rewarding! However, it’s important to do your research before getting started as there are some important considerations to keep in mind.
You’ll need to decide what type of vermicomposting farm you want to set up, and what type of compost worms you’ll be using. You’ll also need to make sure you create the best environment for your worms, and you’re feeding them the right food. All of this I have outlined for you in this article.
With a little bit of planning and effort, you’ll be well on your way to starting your own worm farm and creating a regular supply of rich compost for your garden!
FAQs About Worm Farming For Beginners
Is worm farming smelly?
No, worm farms should not be smelly if they are managed correctly. The worms and microorganisms in the farm break down the organic matter and convert it into nutrient-rich compost. If your worm farm is smelly, it could be because there is too much moisture or not enough air circulation.
What can I do with the compost?
You can use the compost/worm castings as a natural fertilizer for your plants. It’s rich in nutrients and when dug into the soil, will help your plants grow healthy and strong.
How many worms do you need to start a farm?
You can start with as few as 500 worms, but I would recommend starting with 1,000 to 2,000 worms. As a general guide, for a 10 gallon worm farm you will need 1,000 worms (1 lb).
How much does it cost to start a worm farm?
Buying a worm farm can cost anywhere from $50 – $200 to get set up. Alternatively, it’s possible to make your own worm farm using cheap containers or reusing materials you may have around your home. In this case you would just have the cost of purchasing the worms.
Is worm farming difficult?
It really isn’t hard to set up and maintain a worm farm. By following the maintenance tips I have included in this guide, you can fix any issues that might come up.
What do i need to start my worm farm?
There are 4 things required for worm farming for beginners: A worm bin, worms, worm bedding and food scraps.
After this, all you need is kitchen food scraps to regularly feed your worms.
About the Author
Elle Reed is a passionate gardener and advocate for teaching beginner gardeners how to grow their own food. Elle’s mission is to inspire and empower people to get back to basics, grow their own produce, and embrace a sustainable lifestyle. “Whether it’s a few herb pots in an apartment, a potager or a full garden plot, we can all ‘start somewhere’ to grow our own food, and in doing so, provide healthier food for ourselves and those we love”.