The Benefits of Worm Farming: Why You Should Start Your Own
Discover the Joys of Worm Farming!
If you’re an avid gardener, a sustainability warrior, or just curious about ways to reduce the amount of waste you produce at home, then you’ve probably already heard about worm farming before. Worm farming harnesses the amazing ability of earthworms to recycle just about anything that was once living, thereby reducing the amount of organic waste that goes to landfill.
The best part is, that in the process of saving the planet, you’re supplying yourself with one of the best organic fertilizers there is for your garden. The closer you can mimic a worm’s natural environment, the more successful your worm farm will be, and the more benefits you can get out of it. So why not roll up your sleeves, get dirty, and start worm farming today?
What Exactly is Worm Farming?
Worm farming, or vermicomposting, is the process of raising worms to create a natural, nutrient-rich compost that can be used on your garden or plants at home. They can turn just about any sort of organic waste into the world’s most nutrient-rich fertilizer called worm castings (also referred to as worm poo). These castings help plants grow strong, healthy roots, and help to suppress disease. Just one tablespoon of worm castings is enough to feed a small plant for three months!
But Why Would You Want to Start Worm Farming?
Well, if you’re a gardener, you’re really going to get a kick out of the fertilizer and soil conditioner that your worms will turn your food scraps into. As worms consume your food scraps, they produce castings as their waste. You might also hear worm castings referred to as ‘Black Gold’ by gardeners and worm enthusiasts alike.
Worm castings are full of readily available nutrients and soil conditioners which your garden and lawns will absolutely love. They are so incredibly beneficial to soils that they’re commercially produced and sold to home gardeners and farmers, just like any other commercial fertilizer. If you can create your own at home, not only are you going to improve your garden yield but you can also save yourself a lot of money!
Worm Farming is Environmentally-Friendly
If you’re a sustainability-focused person who likes to consider their carbon footprint and environmental impact you’ll also enjoy the benefits of worm farming.
Setting up a worm farm at home can help divert a lot of your food scraps from going to landfill. Food scraps that are fed to your worms will break down aerobically as part of the worms’ digestive process, creating, as a result, a nutrient-rich soil conditioner. Aerobic decomposition simply means that oxygen is present during the decomposition process. This is opposed to the micro-organism-based anaerobic decomposition (without oxygen) that would occur in a landfill.
Anaerobic decomposition produces a lot of methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas. Methane accounts for a smaller percentage of greenhouse gasses than carbon dioxide but has a much greater warming effect on the planet. Worm farming is a great way to reduce the amount of food waste in landfill and help bring down your personal carbon footprint.
“EPA estimates that in 2018, about 81 percent – 20.3 tons – of households’ wasted food ended up in landfills or combustion facilities.”
– United States Environmental Protection Agency
Worms as Bait or Food for Pets
Another benefit of worm farming is the worms themselves. If you’re a keen fisher, then you can grow your own worms to be used as bait. Worms come in all different sizes, so you’re bound to find one that suits the kind of fishing you’re into. Larger worms such as the European Nightcrawler are a good choice for larger fish, whilst red wrigglers are a bit smaller and better for freshwater fish.
RELATED: Best Worms For Fishing
You can also use worms as food for other pets and animals such as birds, rodents, chickens, or reptiles. Worms are packed full of protein and work well as a snack for your pets, or as a supplement to their normal diet. Whilst not great for composting, mealworms make both a great bait for fishing and pet food snack for other animals. If you’re looking to raise worms for either of these two reasons then you may want to consider using them instead of other composting varieties.
Red wrigglers (left), mealworms (middle), and European nightcrawlers (right) all make great worms for fishing or for feeding your pets.
Worm Farming is a Great Hobby!
Worm farming is a relatively easy to set up, and inexpensive hobby that will not only teach you about raising worms but teach you an important lesson about recycling and minimizing household waste. You can buy pre-made purpose-built worm farming containers from hardware stores or online. These will have separate compartments and all you’ll need to do is add suitable bedding material and worms.
Check out our reviews of some commercially available worm farms:
- Urban Worm Bag
- The Hungry Bin
- The Worm Factory 360
- The Worm Cafe
- Vermihut Composter
- Hot Frog Composter
- Maze Worm Farm
Make Your Own Worm Bin
If you prefer a DIY approach, worm farms are also easy to build at home with recycled materials. You can use things like old plastic tubs and trays. Simply grab a container (opaque is better as worms are sensitive to light), drill some decent ventilation holes in the top of the tub and add the bedding and worms. One common problem people face when using a homemade bin is not providing adequate ventilation. If you have a medium-sized bin, you may find that drilling a large opening in the lid is required to provide adequate airflow. If you are worried about bugs and insects getting in, you can always use a window screen to cover the holes or place it over the top of your bin.
It’s Also Relatively Inexpensive…
Once your farm is set up, then it’s a relatively inexpensive hobby to maintain. Feeding worms your food scraps will save you a lot of waste which means you won’t need to buy plastic bin liners as frequently. Also, by producing your own compost you’ll no longer need to rely on expensive commercially produced fertilizers for your garden. If you have your own vegetable garden then you can enjoy greater yields by using organic worm castings.
Using free bedding materials like old newspapers or leaf litter will also keep costs down whilst also reducing the amount of waste you throw in the trash. And finally, if you’re really dedicated and have a few connections, you might even be able to make money from your worm farm by selling your castings or the worms themselves!
If They’re Breaking Down Food Scraps, Does Worm Farming Smell?
A clean, properly maintained worm farm shouldn’t have an obvious smell. Gardeners will notice the familiar ‘earthy’ smell, but there are definitely no pungent odors that ruin your outdoor space.
Bad smells coming from your worm farm generally mean something has gone wrong in the container, and you’ll need to investigate to find and fix the problem. Smelly problems are usually one of the following things.
- Too much food in your worm farm will mean worms can’t eat and break it down quickly enough, so some of the leftover food will begin to rot. As this is decomposition, rather than digestion, a by-product is an odor from the micro-organisms involved. The same can be said for putting in the “wrong” type of food.
Another reason for bad smells is if there is not enough airflow in your worm farm. You may also notice smells as anaerobic decomposition begins to occur in the container. This can be the bedding material or the food decomposing, or rotting worms that have died from the poor conditions.
Do I Need Lots of Space to Start Worm Farming?
Not at all. Worm farming is really scalable, so you can do it as small or as large as you want. You can even start worm farming if you live in an apartment. To set up a worm farm on your balcony, you’ll just need to use a smaller container, and save your food scraps. You can do this by freezing the excess and defrosting it to feed your worms when they’re ready for more food.
The biggest issue you’re going to face with apartment worm farming is what to do with all your castings. You’ll either need to take them to a community garden and spread them through there or give them away to your friends and family. Not a terrible problem to have! Like we said earlier, you could even try selling them.
So Why Not Give it a Try?
Worm farming is a great hobby that can produce beneficial products like garden fertilizer, fishing bait, and can help to reduce your carbon footprint. It’s easy to get into and to get established and can be done anywhere around your home, even on a small balcony. If you don’t want to purchase a pre-made container, you can always make your own cheaply from plastic containers or buckets.
To find out more, why not check out the following pages to help you get started on this journey. Happy worm farming!
- Worm Farming for Beginners
- Worm Farm Supplies
- The Best Worms for Composting
- Composting With Worms: Some Common Problems and How to Fix Them