How to start your own earthworm farm

  • Posted: Apr 09, 2009
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How to start your own earthworm farm

There are two ways to starting your own worm farm; 1) make you own 2) buy a ready-made kit from a supplier.

If you decide to take the easy way out, see our list of earthworm farm suppliers below.

Want to make your own earthworm farm? Here’s how:

What you’ll need:
● Two plastic bins with lids (black remember earthworm prefer the dark)
● If one bin has a tap attached to the bottom of the bin it will assist with tapping the “worm tea”
● Mesh
● Pebbles
● Newspaper, cardboard
● And …. earthworms

Advice: Do not think that you can get some earthworms from your garden and they will do the trick! You need a special species! Red Wigglers (they are like superheroes when it comes to worms!). Here are some suppliers.

Step 1:
● Take the plastic bin (without the tap) and drill a series holes in the bottom to allow drainage.
● (Tip: drill from the inside so the rough pieces sits on the outside of your bin, if it is on the inside it might hamper your juice flow).
● Then drill some holes in the walls and lid of the same bin to allow air to circulate.

Step 2:
● Place a layer of small pebbles at the bottom of the bin, followed by a layer of mesh to assist with drainage and prevent the worms from falling out the bottom.
● For the next layer you will need to add a layer of damp shredded newspaper (long thin streaks) as the bedding for the earthworms, this layer should be about 5cm thick.

Step 3:
● Next you will need to add the worms, remember to add them with the soil that they came in.

Step 4:
● Cut a piece of cardboard to fit over the bedding, wet it a bit with a spray bottle.
● “Cover” your worms with the cardboard and then put the lid on.
● Place this bin into your bin with the tap and place it in a shady spot. You can even leave it in your kitchen as your earthworm farm should be odorless.

Now all you need to do is add your waste when available.

The worms will chew their way up through the material leaving their castings behind. When your bin is full, remove the layer of waste and a few centimetres of castings as this will contain most of your worms. What’s left will be the bestgarden fertilizer you have ever produced. Add a layer of damp newspaper to the bottom of the tub and then place the scraps and worms back into the tub and start the process all over again.

The worms won’t escape as they don’t like light, if they are escaping, their food may be too acidic, don’t feed them any tea bags, coffee grounds, citrus fruit or onions for a while. They may also try to escape if the farm is too wet or too dry.

Most worm farms that you can purchase come with removable panels that allow you to easily remove the castings with less mess.
“Worm tea” (leachate) and castings are safe to use without dilution, but if you prefer the recommended mix is one part leachate/castings to 4 parts soil or water.

Your earthworms will never overpopulate, as they self-regulate reproduction. The more food there is the more they will reproduce and visa versa. Don’t over feed the worms in the early stages while they are establishing the population.

If earthworms are not for you, then here is an article on how to start a compost heap.

What to feed your worms

Organic waste:
● Fruit, vegetables, tea bags, coffee grounds and filters, bread, cereal, paper
● They are not too fond of citrus fruit, it is a bit too acidic for them

DO NOT feed your earthworm:
● Dairy products, fats, meat, feces, oils

This is not a project that will yield results within the first week! You need some patience, you can expect to harvest your first castings between 1 – 3 months. At first you do not have to feed them that much but as your worms mature you will need to feed them daily.

Earthworms are great pets, if you go away on holiday all you need to do is place a big butternut in the middle of your wormery and enjoy your holiday.

Earthworm buddies, Wormforum, Mother Earthworm, Garden Girl, Earth Worm Ineterst Group, Wiggler Magic Worms.
Featured on:
Dink Groen with Amore Bekker on RSG

Where to buy earthworms in South Africa:

Worms @ R30/25g (+ 100 worms)
Cape Town

Tel: 073 2669 202 | 044 388 4835
Email: |

1-5kg = R500/kg | 6+ kg = R400/kg
Courier nationwide can be arranged at extra cost. Bulk orders welcome – loads of stock
Tel: 083 254 7335
Linden, Johannesburg

Paul Maher
Tel: 082 906 4909

Alan Donaldson
Tel: 082 851 9585
Sunninghill, JHB and Parkwood, JHB.

Tel: 082 8114003 | 031 7621048

Earthworm Buddies
Rosemary – 082 8594155
Warren – 083 947 2866
Helen – 083 712 5525

The Earthmill System

Earthworm Interest Group of South Africa
Ken Reid – 011 792 3478

Global Vermiculture
Tel: 063 478 4663
Address: 26 Prinsloo Street, Rayton, Gauteng 1001

22b Farmer’s Folly, Lynnwood, Pretoria
Juta Boegman (Cilliers)
Tel: 082 670 6359

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