How to Care for a Worm Farm

Worms will eat things such as garbage and grass clippings.
Worms will eat things such as garbage and grass clippings. (Image: George Doyle & Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

A worm farm can be a rewarding venture, and it's easy work. Whether you are worm farming, also known as vermiculture, as a hobby or as a business, with proper care, your worms will reward you with castings (worm poop) that you can use or sell as plant fertilizer. This natural composting occurs when the worms eat your garbage and expel it.

Things You'll Need

  • Vermiculture operation
  • Worm bins with worms
  • Organic matter
  • Water
  • Watering can
  • Cool, dark place to set the worm bins

When your worms bins are set up, check them each day to ensure the worms are settling in properly. They should not attempt to climb out the top or bottom of the bin through the holes, but it does happen. If you see worms outside the bin, gently dig into the organic matter and place the worms in the hole. Cover the worms with organic matter and replace the cotton fabric on top.

Check the moisture in the worm bin with your hand. For successful vermiculture, the organic material needs to be moist at all times. Use the watering can with room temperature water and sprinkle the cotton fabric with water until water runs through the holes in the bottom of the worm bin.

Save the water in the tray when you've gotten carried away and over-watered. The water that has trickled through the castings is called worm tea and is perfect for watering your indoor plants or garden. Don't throw it away.

Feed your worms every few days or once a week. Save the food scraps throughout the week in a small bucket or empty cardboard milk carton. Store the perishables in the refrigerator but be sure to set out the carton so the contents can get to room temperature before feeding it to the worms.

Add four or five small pockets of organic matter (food scraps, manure, shredded newspaper and thin cardboard, lawn clippings) to the worm bins. Bury the food so the worms won't come to the top to feed.

Ensure the temperature stays between about 55 and 77 degrees F. Worms must be kept at a comfortable temperature or they will die.

After several months, your worms will have eaten so much organic matter that most of what the worms are crawling in is castings (their poop). When the organic matter feels like a velvety, soft dirt, it is time to harvest the castings. One method is to place food in only one corner of the worm bin about a week or 10 days before harvesting. The worms will congregate to that area leaving the rest of the bin empty so you can scoop out the castings. Use buckets to gather the worm castings. Put it in zippered plastic bags for safe keeping until you sell or use this fine fertilizer.

Have a new bin ready or new material ready to put in the worm bin you just harvested. Over time, you will need to add more worm bins to your vermiculture operation to handle the extra worms. The worms will multiply.

Tips & Warnings

  • Enjoy the worm castings as the best fertilizer in town!
  • Worm are both male and female!
  • Be gentle with the red wigglers. They are sturdy but care should be taken when scooping them up to move them.

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