8 Reasons You Need a Worm Farm

Imagine hundreds of slimy worms slithering through rotting vegetables. Their tiny white egg sacs are littered throughout partially decomposed and wholly unrecognizable food scraps. Silently, their population doubles every three months as their insatiable appetite grows. Imagine wet clumps of muddy dirt coating a soft, moldy red pepper as tiny pink bodies chew and squirm without rest through endless soft spots and widening holes. Now imagine them in your living room. Welcome to the world of worm farms, or vermicomposting.

It might sound gross, but it isn’t as bad as it sounds. In fact, every person on the planet should have at least one (preferably two) vermicomposting bins. Not everyone has a garden, and some don’t even really like dirt, but for the environmentally conscious, vermicompost is a must. It reduces waste, creates a perfectly balanced organic fertilizer, requires little to no maintenance, can be kept virtually anywhere, and most importantly, doesn’t smell (if properly managed). The following are eight reasons why vermiculture, worm farms, and compost should be for everyone.

Waste Reduction
Recycling has been gaining popularity in recent years, with some areas even requiring residents to reduce their waste through fines. Vermicomposting literally eat up most, if not all, food waste at an incredible rate. Red Wrigglers (Eisenia fetida), the worms commonly used in vermiculture, consume approximately half of their body weight in decomposing matter each day. Plus, their waste doesn’t smell.

Low/No Maintenance
Aside from occasionally turning the compost and annually harvesting the worm castings, a constant supply of food scraps is all the worm farm needs to function. Holes in the bin allow oxygen to flow through decaying organic matter, allowing aerobic (oxygen loving) bacteria to break down the cell structure of organic waste. As long as there are few to no anaerobic (lacking oxygen) areas in the bin, vermicompost will smell like dirt.

Can Be Kept Anywhere
Worms hate the light! Because of this, an unused closet or basement is a perfect habitat for a worm farm. For those without much extra space, a piece of plywood and some cloth can easily disguise a worm farm as an innocent coffee table. Just be sure that taking out the compost doesn’t become a chore, so the supply of food is constant. Worms will only multiply as much as their environment (in this case a plastic bin), will support. Less food means less worms means less compost. As long as the supply of food is relatively constant, worm bins will be odorless.

Organic Fertilizer (Worm Castings)
Chemical fertilizers destroy local habitats by washing into nearby water sources, causing algal blooms that starve the water of oxygen, block out light, and outcompete native plant species for resources. It can also be difficult, if not impossible, for anyone without a soil testing kit to measure which nutrients are needed and for which plants. Over fertilization will burn, and in severe cases, kill all plants. Fortunately, due to an enzyme in a worm’s digestive tract, nutrients in castings are released slowly,amking them safe in just about any quantity to most plant species. Plus it smells better than manure based fertilizers.

Cheap/Free
Vermicompost involves one or more lidded plastic bins or buckets, food scraps, and dirt. A shovel or gardening gloves are recommended to turn the soil, but are not necessary. The bin can be of any size, depending on the amount of waste produced. The bin material must not be biodegradable, unless food scraps will go directly to the garden. The worms (red wrigglers preferably) can be bought at many fish or gardening shops or obtained for free from a preexisting bin.

Revitalization of Soil
An outdoor vermicompost bin allows worms to dig through the soil beneath the bin. Before compost is spread or the earth is tilled, worms are already spreading their magic deep in the earth. Even the most barren soil can be brought back by worms. It has been found that they can even remove toxic heavy metals like lead from soil.

Keeps Garbage Free of Food Waste
Ever have a smelly garbage can? The culprit for the sulfuric, rotten egg smell are a group of tiny microbes known as anaerobic (oxygen hating) bacteria. The waste from these microbes is what gives rotting food it’s foul odor. It’s also the cause to your smelly garbage. Keeping food waste out of the trash prevents the trash from smelling foul. Leftover food can also attract pests such as mice, flies, or moths.

Doesn’t Smell Bad
Did I mention vermiculture doesn’t smell? Despite rotting food, bacterial decay, and a whole lot of worm poop, a worm farmproperly managed vermicompost bin will smell like dirt. Rich, wet, living dirt. Since the worms are busy converting all those food scraps into energy, much of the original volume of waste will be lost. A single, small bin can process the food waste of many people for a long time without needing to be emptied.

I have been keeping worms in my living room for two years now. I also have an outdoor vermicomposting bin for older, more mature compost. I live with eight other people and all of our eggshells, unused vegetables, dead plants, lint, dust, credit card statements, and a little bit of cardboard become worm food and eventually fertilizer. I feed my aquarium fish live worms and our trash has never smelled better. The bins we use were about to be thrown out because of a few cracks but have since been repurposed for vermiculture. The whole operation takes up about three square feet of space, less than five minutes per week in upkeep, and sits unnoticed next to our entrance. Whether or not you have garden, if you’re interested in naturally reducing your waste with minimal effort, you need a worm farm.

128 comments

Question I have been composting for several years, but now my small yard is infested with moles eating the worms and digging through the roots of my trees. One garden supply place told me to spread a pesticide to kill the grubs which moles feed on, I did but it didn’t work the moles are still there how can I get rid of them? any help would be much appreciated.

so much yes!

Colin

raise the composting bed…moles will dig but won’t climb. Might be a little extra work, but it will be effective and you don’t need pesticides

Loving the info you share, and happy to pass it along to our readers as well! Thank you!!

The worms in my compost bin are as big around as my thumb. Well fed.

I took a session in composting yesterday that included this at Master Gardeners. Can you see my house with my grandchildren and worms ?

sandy

I purchased worm compost. It was great, but the moles smelled exactly where I put it around plants and dug there looking for worms. So they must be able to smell the worm compost itself and think there must be worms to eat.
I have poor soil, compact clay. Never had moles, had lots of grubs a long time ago, and I got rid of all of them a couple of years ago. via chemicals and by removing the top layer of my clay while regrading the slope of my land. I never see a grub now…but still have clay. The moles only went to the spots with compost.

haha David Guérin!

I need a worm farm.

I Got Worms!

Darren

Readers should be informed that E. Fetida is not to be released in the wild. sterilize your dirt before using in an outdoor bed. It could cause great harm to the environment if these lovable wrigglers get out.

does anyone have any tricks to get rid of slugs without killing them

Copper,take a bowling ball glue pennys to it ,put on stand of some kind when you water if runs onto ground and they don’t like it.someone posted it

Many pennies these days are not copper, so you’d need to check for that. You can get copper strips to surround pots or areas, but it eventually gets dirty or oxidized and stops working.
I like Sluggo. It is a poison, but nontoxic to us, and to animals. It’s an iron complex, stops the slugs from eating and they eventually die. Works beautifully, and very safe.

did you try a small layer of wood ash?

An unexpected cold snap froze my wormies solid this fall

Vermicomposting: the best dirt to grow in, filled with both active and potential fertilizer.

Copper works they make slug barriers like a roll of tape even sticky on one side.

Just upgraded all of our worm bins with fresh leaf mould and moved to the greenhouse for winter!

I cheat and have put a couple pallets down … they encourage worms like nobody’s business

Honestly this is the best way

Worms are also a great addition to an aquaponics flood and drain style system

We used beer in saucers make it so they can crawl in-sunk does in the dirt. Work so well have been many in 5 years.

Chickens love all bugs.

Lucy Lynne Janssen

Facebook’s spies knew we were discussing worms because this link was just an advertisement in my feed.

I try to add to my garden; I purchase the “worms” for the birds and the science museum showed us how to grow “worms” to feed to small chameleons (kept in the classroom for 2nd graders to watch and enjoy)

Got one. Lots of little helpers too

Worm Castings are the only fertilizer/soil amendment we use with amazing results!
http://www.gawigglers.com

We have red wiggler composting worms on sale with FREE SHIPPING! !

worms aren’t always good for the environment – in the NE they destroyed the natural balance. how did they get there? fisherman dumping their bait.

and don’t confuse grubs for worms!!

I dumped 2 of my worm bins in the gardens today. It was AWESOME to see all those worms wiggling around. Started out with about 10 per bin and now each bin has more than I could count. Scooped a couple handfuls back into the bin and loaded them down with veggie scraps, chicken coup “stuff” and some leaves and coffee grounds. Can’t wait to see how many we have next time:)

shred some leaves for them,amazing how they pull them into the ground for a snack

Actually, they arrived from Europe in the ballast of ships.

My dad taught me this 60 years ago. My 8th grade science project was a worm farm–6 layers of different soil/leaves etc. to see where the worms liked best-my dad built it with a glass pane in the front–pretty neat for 1963.

I need a worm farm!

I want one!!

They also aerate the soil – brings oxygen to the roots and keeps the soil breathing.

I have two worm bins in my living room. No smell. The results of using the worm compost on my vegetable plants is phenomenal! I even teach worm composting at our city hall to eager local residents. It’s a passion of mine.

Love this!!

I have one

Is it something about the angle when the soil is being turned? Or are you talking about worms with wings? That would be an angel.

Vermiculture rocks

I have a worm farm. It’s the soil I grow my food in.

Did you know that earthworms aren’t native to North America? And that they have radically changed toe ecology of the northern hardwood forests, among other things? I do lots of composting, and have never had to add worms…..

And the cycle continues

We have 16 bins of red worms and they do an awesome job at composting our urban farm waste/scraps/trimmings.

Permaculture and vermaculture are accomplished in several ways, traditional crop rotation and proper composting are both methods of sustainable agriculture/permaculture. Farming in areas large enough to lay a portion fallow is accomplished in smaller areas with proper composting practices, the point being to return nutrients and balance to the soil. Vermiculture is a component of proper composting methods and can be accomplished in a variety of bins, beds and open compost piles. No single method is the only method.

I’ve got a mango tree that sprouted in my worm bin. I sometimes wonder if the worms are drunk from fermentation in the vermicompost because they get fat and sluggish in the early summer.

Al Nisaa
Worm compost

But not good for indoor plants !

Ginny Baker

Ally O’Ferguson

Mat Odenthal

Help me with my worms !!

I’ve been collecting food for them. Show me where they live lol

They live in the huge flower pot were the baby basil is growing

Wait.. Under that flower pot

Love my worm farm!

I’ll wait til u show me

I have a worm bin in my backyard in Chicago. The worms seem to survive the winter consistently unless it’s severe.

Monica Schwerdtfeger-Scrum

What about nitrate – producing baceria? But I guess that is automatically there

Is it earthworms in general or certain species that aren’t native?

Margaret Cameron

Stephanie King

What’s the cheapest/easiest way to get started?

No but the resulting poop can certainly be!

We use plastic storage bins, drill them full of 1/2″ holes (bottom and sides) add a few red worms from a friend and lots of food waste/coffee grounds. Add containers as you go. For us, we stack them 4 high (don’t put the lids in between) and have 4 or five stacks going. In the spring, when it is time to start our veggie beds, we pull out the bottom bins and trowel them into the soil before planting.

Lol Myke Farmer

I am so going to do this.

Kathryn Hart – do you have this?

David Howard

Andrea Benjamin

We have two worm towers in the Greenouse. Brian Kirsch is going to be getting worms for them soon. I am in charge of the ones in the ground. I keep them happy and they are multiplying like crazy! 🙂 I will pull some for your boys to play with next time you are at the garden!

Jeremiah Roller

You know your compost pile is a success when the worms move in!

Hahaha! When I first read this I thought “worms” said “women”

I never had a worm farm, but I did once have a worm ranch. Quite the spread and I was runnin about 49,000 head. Lots of work, but with 7 hands I was able to keep up. I was the head wrangler along with Jollyn my wife and Bobby Sue and little Jim Bob. Now you might be wondering about the 7 hands. We all except Jollyn each had two, but she lost on in her twenties in a polling a accident down at the local Gentlemens club. I told her not to grease it up especially being 7 months pregnant, but she has a lot of pluck and Gid knows we needed the extra tip money.
Well anyway I strayed so meanwhile back at the ranch….did I tell you it was in the banana belt of South Dakota? Lotsa folk don’t know, but there is this little valley with Palm Trees, Oranges and bananas and
DAMNED!! Gotta go! I have a few strays climbing up outa an old coffee can and with fishin season starting tomorrow……

Angles of soil, huh?

Rhonda Musser

OMG moles are the worst. Had them a couple of years ago and cried every day.I would go out to the garden every morning and my beautiful vegetables would be pushed out of the ground from the tunnels that they would build during the night. I tried everything natural that I could find.Mineral oil spray just made the vegetables taste like mineral oil. Moth balls in the tunnels, not natural I know but I got desperate.They did nothing. I set traps that were expensive and didn’t fit in the places that they liked to tunnel plus they were disgusting when you did finally happen to trap one of them. The sad truth is that the healthier your soil the more attractive your garden is going to be to a mole. They eat earthworms. The very creature that we as gardeners try so hard to lure to our gardens. Well all that being said. CATS are the answer. I put out a bowl of cat food in the back yard where the garden is and the cats came to eat and took care of the mole problem. I love these little kitties.They have done what I could not. Good luck to you. I know how disheartening this can be.

John Yeo

I let them free, actually got to see one a few weeks ago, I was digging and it popped up a about a foot from me. Healthy and happy. Love their work even if I seldom see them.

Our compost pile is teaming with them!

I need to find out how to get cats away from my plants they destroy them 🙁

Yea ,, to feed the moles and gofers ,

Because they make angled tunnels like the dude in Dig Dug.

Berkeley, check out ECHO International, we are working here on our NOMADS project. All about helping people feed their families.

Luv those worms. put boards and rocks down to encourage them; and lost of compost piles!

Many towns have school programs emerging in school gardening. Many of these produce vermicomposting operations and can sell worms for gardening and for your own composting needs.

YES!!YES !!YES!!

I always encouraged worms until this last season when the BIG earth worms got out of hand and started eating seedlings and leaves in the vegetable garden. They cleaned me fully out of lettuce. Now I hunt the big ones and remove them every spring.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_8694000/8694377.stm

They are the dew worms monsters, Lumbricus terrestris. Our lawn area has been a disaster for years as well, with mounds of soil and holes. Not sure how to organically control them…

I have thousands of red worms in my garden, they seem happy, ha

Just rovate the land cover with new dirt!

Already have a worm farm… use them to keep my Bonsai trees healthy…

I believe finding worms in your garden means you have healthy living soil. I also compost with worms and use the castings in my garden.

Kirby Lee what a coincidence that I should see this after our convo yesterday .

Cecillia Tran Lujan

Sorry, but that article is a load of garbage.

Perfect Erin DeBlanc !

Right!? More like the arcs and squiggles of soil!

Make dirt in your kitchen with all those veggie scraps!

… no matter what worms eat (bacteria, chemicals, etc)… their poop comes out as clean dirt!

I have several gallons of vermicomposted organic compost available.

I have a worm farm and have for probably 20 years or more. It is outside and they do fine here in Placitas at over 6000′. I love throwing in every bit of my food waste and having it turned into beautiful, rich, black soil, so unlike what is naturally here! It’s a miracle!

I have one!!

hughesv

I’ve used worm castings before and can’t believe I don’t have a worm bin yet – on my long list of things to do! Thanks for the tips.

I love my little worm farm!

I have loads in my garden bed🙏🏽

Christina

Yes!!! I’m on it.

David Zumbrink

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