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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

DIY: Worm Farm

In addition to my lovely pallet garden that we made last week, we also made a worm composting farm to partner up with our mini garden! This is something I've been wanting to try for a while now but I didn't want to start it until the temperature would be staying above freezing. 

Growing up out in the country, we always recycled everything and we always composted food scraps. Tossing food into the trash can was a huge no-no. Since being married it kills me to throw food in the trash can...it just seems so wrong. Now that we have hungry little composters, no more food will be wasted! Well, except dairy and meat of course. That stuff is no good for worms. 

I think I originally saw this idea on Pinterest but I can't remember for sure. I have an entire list of references at the bottom of the post so you can see all the awesome bloggers/vloggers who helped me figure this project out. 

All you need is:
  • 3 large plastic bins (anywhere from 10 gallon to 18 gallon)
  • A drill and drill bits
  • Newspaper (no shiny stuff)
  • Cardboard/old egg cartons
  • Coconut coir or peat moss
  • 500-1000 Red Wriggler Worms


Gather your bins. I found two 10 gallon totes and one 14 gallon tote that fit together perfectly. 

This is how they'll fit together when I'm done. The top layer will house the worms and the scraps. The middle layer is for extra bedding but also for swapping when the top layer is full. The bottom layer is for the "worm tea" which is the liquid that drains from the compost. It's extremely beneficial for plants so don't toss it out!

The reason I bought two smaller bins and one larger bins is so that the bins with the compost in them will be elevated from the liquid in the bottom. You can get three bins of the same size but you will need to add a couple bricks or large rocks to elevate the top bins. Make sense?

I  had a couple of cardboard egg cartons so I ripped them into small pieces for more bedding for the wormies.

Brand new drill bit set and a drill that my aunt and uncle bought for us as a wedding gift! The drill set was only $14 on sale at Lowe's

One of the tutorials I watched highly recommended using coconut coir as bedding because it is pH balanced. Home Depot and Lowe's had them but I would have had to buy large bricks of it and I knew I wouldn't need that much. I found this planter liner at a local nursery for only $3. I'm sure you can find them in most nurseries and greenhouses. 

Newspaper too! These guys need a good foundation. 

Don't forget to paint a colorful sign on the side and be sure to paint it like a 7 year old would. Wait, I think that's just me. 

Get your drill bits out. We used a 1/8" bit for the sides and 1/4" for the bottoms. 

Start by drilling holes all around the top sides of the bins. There's no formula here. Just drill a ton of holes for ventilation! The size of the holes also isn't precise. I used a smaller bit for the sides to hopefully avoid any flying bugs invading the bin.

Drill these side holes in both of the top bins. Do not drill any holes in the bottom bin! 

 Now drill holes in the bottoms of the bins. Be sure to drill holes in the depressions where liquid is more likely to collect. 

Now lay a piece of newspaper in the bottom of the middle bin. This is just extra caution because I was worried the worms might fall into the bottom bin. They shouldn't do that though. 

I put some soil on top of it so that if they make it down to the middle bin they have something to live in and won't dry out before making their way back to the top. 

In the top bin, where the worms will go, I shredded some coconut coir fiber and added just regular potting soil. 

Then I added the torn cardboard. 

And shredded newspaper. 

Then I wet it all down. You want your bedding to stay moist but not soaked. The worms will try to escape if there is too much moisture. 

Now it's time to add your worms! I bought mine from Uncle Jim's Worm Farm. I received mine in about 3 days. They ship worms out on Mondays and it usually takes about 2-3 days so plan accordingly. You want your worm bin ready when they arrive. 

There they are! Wait...where are there?

I see a few of them. 

There they are! They were all clumped together after their long journey. They are shipped in dry peat moss so gently pour about 1/2-1 cup of water over them so they can return to normal. One resource I read said that you should give them 48 hours to settle in before feeding them. I gave them more than a day. I think they should have at least 24 hours to rest and get used to their new surroundings before bombarding them with work.

Their first meal consisted of coffee grounds and a banana peel! That's all I had at the time but they've gotten more goodies since. 

Side note: Starbucks gives away used coffee grounds for FREE so stop by and ask for some for your worm bin or compost pile! Waste not!

There you have it...an easy and cheap worm composting bin for your home! I'll write another post soon about the care and upkeep of your worm farm!

UPDATE 9/17/13: The worms are doing GREAT and working HARD! I've read that they double their population every 3 months so my assumption is that I've now got over 2000 worms turning my scraps into nutrient rich compost! It took a few months before they could handle consistent scraps but now that their numbers are so high, anything I put in there is gone in no time!


Does your family compost? Wouldn't it be nice to toss scraps to the worms instead of letting them stink up the trash can?

Till next time,

I've linked up to {Wow Me} Wednesday #121 with Gingersnap Crafts


  1. Catherine, this is so awesome! (I'm a little behind on your blog but I think I'm caught up now!) This is definitely something I want to do once I move this summer. I have a question about feeding the worms. Are they depending on me for survival at this point?! If I don't have any scraps for a few days, will I be murdering my worms?

    1. Thanks! I think for a few days they'll be fine but I wouldn't let them go a week or more. I think I've actually been over feeding my worms because there's a little bit of a smell. To fix that issue I'm just going to give them a while before adding anything else so they can catch up. Also, along with the initial soil and coconut coir, they have cardboard and newspaper to munch on so a few days won't kill them!


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