If you've ever wondered how to start a worm farm, you're in the right place. Over the last few years of learning how to homestead, I have become an avid worm farmer and I'd love to help you skip over the many mistakes I made and take the guess work out of worm farming for you.
I've dedicated a whole playlist to worm farming on youtube. And I also have a whole section about worm farming here on the blog. I've also written a free quick start guide and an ebook as well. Hopefully these prove valuable resources to you! Keep reading to learn more about how you can easily start a worm farm in just a few simple steps.
What is a Worm Farm?
A worm farm is also known as a vermicompost. As the name implies, a vermicompost is simply another way to make the black gold garden dreams are made of-compost! A worm farm combines browns, greens, worms to make rich black compost. But a worm farm is so much more than a compost pile.
Benefits of Worm Farming
Did you know you can keep a worm farm in a closet? Or even under your kitchen sink? It's true. For a good while we kept our worm farm in the corner of the kitchen!
There are so many reasons to start a worm farm. One of the main reasons I started worm farming was simply that I needed to make compost for my garden while living in an apartment in the city.
When managed properly, worm farms have no odor and provide an excellent opportunity to make compost the easy way-with worms. When I was first learning about compost I found the many methods-hot, cold, etc.-to be really confusing. But using worms, well that made sense.
And, in some ways, having a worm farm is like having "livestock". I get to steward that livestock while dreaming of and working towards the farm. Plus, just like chickens or pigs or cows, we can partner with worms to create fertilization for the garden.
And aside from being compact and odorless, I love the idea that I can have a living thing helping me create fertile compost. When the worms are happy, I know the compost is coming along nicely. One little peak in the bin can tell me a lot and it's nice to have that indication that all is well.
So, worm farms make composting in small spaces possible. Worm farms are odorless. Worm farms make composting simple by using worms to do the work. And worm farms are a way to practice stewardship in those seasons of waiting and working towards big farm dreams
Types of Worm Farms
To start your worm farm, you'll need to decide what kind of worm farm you'd like to create. There are lots of varieties and I've found that it really takes experimenting to find what works best for you and your needs as well as your space.
Option 1: There are simple worm farms like this one that use just a single tote.
Option 2: There are stacking worm farms like this one that use multiple bins.
Or you can make your own like this one, which I inherited from my friend Steven of Nature's Always Right
And there are also worm bags, in ground worm beds, and flow through worm trash cans too.
It's really up to you. If you're just getting started, I'd recommend the single tote method as its the simplest. If you're feeling a little daring, maybe try the stacking tote method, that's become my personal favorite.
Supplies for Starting a Worm Farm
Once you've decided what style of worm farm you'll be creating, you just need a few things:
Browns: things like shredded paper, card board, leaves, essential any dry source of carbon
Greens & Grit: things like grass clippings, banana peels, apple cores, avocado, vegetable peels, egg shells, coffee grounds, etc. (avoid citrus, meat, dairy and bones)
Compost: you can add compost or soil, the idea is to help inoculate the bin with some good bacteria as well as provide some grit for the worms and their gizzards.
Worms: I either order my worms from Uncle Jim's worm farm or buy them from our local feed store.
How to Start a Worm Farm
Once you've got your bin, it's time to layer in the goods.
Layer 1: browns about 2" thick
Layer 2: food scraps about 1/2" thick
Layer 3: compost about 2" thick
repeat this pattern two or three times
Here's a simple graphic from my quick start guide if you're a visual learner, and of course, be sure to watch the video series on youtube for some more tips and tricks.
Food Scraps for your Worm Farm
You may notice that a worm bin does not require many food scraps. This is true. It's a bit of a myth that worms just eat food scraps. If you're looking to put all of your food scraps to good use, a traditional compost may be more suited for your needs. But if you're looking for an easy, space efficient, fun way to compost that's great for kids, well, a worm farm is just what you need!
Congrats, You're a Worm Farmer!
Alright, well, it may take some time before you feel comfortable calling yourself a worm farmer. But I promise you, with a little time and tender lovin' care, you'll be cranking out black gold compost and have loads of happy worms in no time! Stay tuned for maintenance tips and be sure to follow along on youtube for more help.
Happy worm farming!