Have you ever thought of keeping pet worms to reduce the greenhouse effect and pollution? You might be wondering if it’s possible? Of course, it is. You can build a worm farm and keep pet worms that are happy to munch on your food scraps. In return, these little garbage gobblers will provide you with an amazing fertilizer-worm casting or vermicast. The food scraps that otherwise go in landfills pollute the groundwater and release methane gas damaging the environment. It will be too satisfying to think that you can reduce carbon footprints and save the environment by keeping the low-maintenance farm worms.
If you are curious to build a worm farm for worm castings to be used in a garden, this post is for you. Read it till the end and discover what a worm farm is and how to make and care for a worm bin or a worm box.
What Is A Worm Farm?
Worm farming means keeping worms in worm bins or boxes and feeding them with food scraps. According to the statistics of food wastage in the US, an average American family of four wastes food worth $1500 per year that goes in landfills. As a consequence, this food breaks down anaerobically, producing methane gas. Unfortunately, methane gas is 21 times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide.
The massive emission of methane gas from landfills increases carbon footprints. Therefore, a worm farm is the best way to reduce carbon footprints. The food waste you throw each day will become the diet of the worms living in the worm bins. In return, you’ll get their wee and poo or worm castings-the best organic fertilizer to use in the garden.
How To Start A Worm Farm?
If you want to start your own worm farm, ensure to create a habitat similar to nature. Typically, worms prefer cool, dark, moist spaces to grow naturally. The best worm farm should provide enough space for worms to roam and munch on the food scraps. At the same time, you should have easy access to the by-product of the worm farm-worm pee and poo or vermicast.
Before you start a worm farm, consider these points.
- Select a spot for your worm farm away from direct sunlight.
- The temperature of the farm should be between 10 to 30 degrees celsius.
- Avoid the area of extreme temperature fluctuations.
- Keep the bedding of your worm farm damp but don’t drown your worms.
7 Steps To Make Your Own Worm Farm
Here are the steps of making your own worm farm.
Step 1- Create a worm box or worm bin.
You’ll need a container to make a shelter for worms. However, you can use any container such as an old bathtub, plastic container with a lid, stackable polystyrene fruit boxes. You can also purchase a ready-made worm farm like our Worm Bucket Composter.
Step 2- Prepare the top box.
If you are using polystyrene fruit boxes, make a few holes at the base of one of the boxes and consider it a “top box.” Use a mesh or insect screening to stop worms from falling from the holes. If you're using a Worm Bucket, follow our included directions for assembling the composter kit.
Step 3- Prepare the bottom box.
Take another box and make it a collection center of the precious wee of worms. Consider it a bottom container and insert a hose or a tap closer to its base. The bottom box should be without holes.
Step 4- Add the bedding material
Fill the ¼ of the top box with bedding material such as shredded newspapers, aged manure, or compost. Avoid adding fresh manure. Sprinkle some water over the bedding material to dampen it. Avoid adding too much water since it can drown your worms in the worm bin. Ensure to prepare the bedding material before adding worms to it.
Step 5- Get worms for the worm bin
Once you have prepared the bedding material, choose worms to use on your farm. Select the worms that live closer to the earth’s surface in the leaf litter, not deep in the soil like earthworms.
You can purchase worms from garden centers that are typically used for composting. The recommended worms are Tigers, Reds, and Blues. Start with around 500 to 1000 worms. You can also borrow them from other worm farms. Add these munchers to the top worm box; they’ll wriggle down the bedding on their own.
Step 6- Cover the worm bin
The worms live happily in nice moisture content and a constant temperature. For this, cover your worm box with old fabric, such as a piece of hessian or an old t-shirt. Place a lid over the worm bin. If you're using our Worm Bucket, it includes a vented lid to prevent worms from escaping.
Step 7- Prepare a food menu for your worm farm.
Allow the worms to settle for a few days. Then start adding small amounts of food scraps at different places in the top worm box under the cloth. Ensure to divide the food waste into small pieces that are easy to munch on and digest.
The food waste you can add includes leftover cooked vegetables, stewed fruits, and fruit and veggie peels(avoid citrus and onion peels due to a strong smell). You can also add grass clippings and autumn leaves. Paper, pizza boxes, junk mail can also be added, but divide all carbon material into small pieces and soak in water before adding.
Also, avoid adding the onion. Your worm will also love tea bags, coffee grinds, and tea dregs. Your hair clippings and vacuum dust are ideal to use in the worm box. Aged manure is a great nutrition source for worm farms.
How To Collect and Use Leachate?
Your worm farms may produce a liquid run off called leachate within a few weeks depending on moisture levels in your bin. It will begin collecting in the bottom box. Some people throw this out, but you can actually use it. Dilute it 10:1 until it becomes a light tea color before using it for your plants. It is an excellent fertilizer to use for non-edible plants like flowers and shrubs. Don't confuse this with Worm Tea - although similar they are not the same.
For resources on making worm tea, check out our other blogs.
How To Collect and Use Vermicast?
Once the worm farm contents resemble soil or compost, it is vermicast. It is ready to use in a garden. For collecting the vermicast, carefully remove a small amount from the bedding. Make a cone-shaped mound. The worms in the vermicast will start gathering at the center, away from the light. Collect the vermicast and put the worms back on the farm, if any.
Vermicast is a strong fertilizer, so use it in small amounts near the plants. You can also spread it over the soil, cover it with the mulch, or use it in a liquid form diluted with water.
You can easily start a worm farm for creating worm castings to be used in your garden. It will reduce pollution and provide you with an excellent fertilizer free of cost. Just make sure to select the right place for placing the worm boxes.
Keep the worm bins moist but not over wet to drown the worms. Avoid overfeeding worms and add a small quantity of food scraps at a time. Repeat the process once all the scrapes are converted to vermicast.