When you want to start your garden and have it looking healthier and healthier, or you simply need a good place to get rid of most of your organic waste, you will need a warm farm. A fantastic way to all-natural compost for your garden warm farms have gained popularity with gardeners around the world as they are much more eco friendly than most other solutions.
You will need to have one small bin that is inside a larger bin, with a layer of damp newspaper in the top bin, covered with damp soil. This is the basis of a worm bin, with the worms allowed to crawl around in the soil and newspaper, you then have a container of scrap fruits and vegetables that you add to the worm farm once a week. Garden waste must be mulched and left to rot in a container for a week before slowly being fed into the worm bin.
Garden worm farms are great for getting rid of extra garden waste you may have while creating healthy soil that you can use to either feed your plants or to help potted plants grow. Understanding each part of your worm farm will help you easily see when something is wrong, when new foods are needed, or when you need to test the soil and see how well it is doing.
How to start a worm farm?
The basics of the worm farm are all you will need to understand to successfully have it on in your garden, many worm farm owners quickly learn that after the initial setup it is all about keeping it going. As the worms will naturally be doing their work as long as the temperatures, moisture, and food is perfect.
To start your worm farm you will need to have the basic worm farm setup, one you made yourself or bought online, and then the worms themselves. This is where people get lost as they quickly realize there are many worm types out there, luckily there is a basic type that you should use. Red wrigglers are quick to digest and easy to handle, they are perfect worms to start up any worm farm.
Worm farm setup
While starting the worm farm properly is important you need to have it properly set up before you add any worms or food scraps. This is where many people want to rush, making mistakes that cause their farms to not be entirely perfect when things start properly going. Getting the basic structure of your worm bin perfect will save you hours of headaches down the road.
There are several steps and things to know about setting up the worm bin and knowing what they are is important. Many people get lost in long explanations of what to do, which is why we are giving a step-by-step explanation of what is needed.
- Bins: The bins you are using should be two different sizes, one sits in the other, usually three in total. The smaller bin should have two holes drilled a few inches from the top, opposite each other. Throughout the bin, you should have smaller holes about two inches apart from each other if you’re wondering the bottom bin is there to cat the worm tea.
- Location: Placing your worm bin is important, it needs to be in an area that does not experience extreme temperatures, usually in a garage or in hotter countries underneath a tree. Making sure it cannot freeze in the winter, which is how many first-time worm farmers lose their worms.
- Layered: Your bins should be layered now, placing the two small bins on top of each other in your sump bin. The top bin will be where the worms are living, moving up and down the newspaper and soil as they please. The middle bin is where the waste from the worms is gathered, this is your compost, with the bottom bin allowing the excess moisture to drain away.
- Feeding: You should add some damp mud and the layer of the damp newspaper when you are feeding the worm for the first time. Then layer on top of everything the food scraps you have prepared. This will jumpstart the worms eating the food scraps and living in the mud while staying on the right layer of the worm farm.
- Compost: The first time you are setting up your worm bin you will only have a bit of water in the sump, to prevent everything drying out, and the top layer of soil, newspaper, and worms. Once the worms start doing their magic they will start producing compost from their waste. If you have a two-bin system, bin, and sump, you’ll need to transfer the top layer to a new bin each time you need compost.
What materials do you need to make a worm farm?
When you are looking at completed worm farms you may think that it is the most complicated thing you can see in any garden. However, some light prodding from the owner and a bit of picture will tell you that it is the opposite, worm farms are some of the simplest things you can have in your garden to help with plant health.
The only materials you need for a worm farm are the bins, newspaper, damp soil, and food scraps. Other than these you may need to empty some of the compost to make space for more, or every few weeks add extra soil for the worms to live in. However, it is that simple, and most worm farms are perfectly capable of handling themselves throughout the year.
Usually, the most daunting aspect of a worm farm is the first-time setup as it can be a bit of work to get everything perfectly balanced. Some of the best worm farms are those created by people that have failed once or twice and now know exactly what they need. Worm farms are low cost to build which makes them perfect for trying until you get the formula for your environment just right.
How many worms do you need to start a worm farm?
When you have everything set up and the newspaper is moist, the soil is perfect, and the food scraps are ready you will need to throw in the worms. This is usually when you need to start looking at where you can find worms, with some people going to bait shops while others rely on other worm farm owners to get a jumpstart.
You will need at least 20 worms to have your worm farm start up properly, allowing them to breed on their own without losing each other in the bin. You should also ensure that you are not using too many worms for the farm you have created, with many worm farms not able to handle more than a few dozen at any given time.
The biggest limitation is usually worms that are too close to each other, which stops them from comfortably living and enjoying their lives in your worm farm. As your worm farm naturally grows you will need to ensure that there are not too many worms in it, having to take out the excess to either spread in your garden or simply for a new worm farm you may be creating.
How to make it less acidic?
A problem that arises with worm farms all over the world is too much acidity, either through the decomposing process or simply because the foods are thrown in are too acidic. When this happens your worms may die or simply not be efficient enough, in the worst-case scenarios acidity that is too high will lead to protein poisoning.
No one wants to see their worms breaking into string-of-pearls and preventing this from happening should be at the top of your priorities list. It is, unfortunately, something that many worm farm owners experience and it needs to happen to understand when you should be adding or removing certain additives to the soil of your worm farm.
- Add Calcium: A quick way to balance out the acidity in your worm farm is to add calcium carbonite materials such as eggshells, limestone, or dolomite to counteract the acidity. This is a quick and easy way to balance everything out and ensure that the worms are having a grand time while living in your worm farm.
- Increase Airflow: It may seem odd but stopping things from flowing in and out, with a hot humid environment can damage the worms and their soil. To helps solve this allow some extra airflow into the bin, letting the foods and other things decompose much faster than they would normally.
- Fresh Bedding: This is part of the reason why you should always be adding and removing the bedding in your worm farm. A fresh layer of bedding will be much more likely to reduce the acidity and give your worms the chance to decompose everything before the soil around them starts burning them.
- Remove Rotting Food: While the foods that you give the worms should be somewhat rotten if there is too much-rotting food and the worms are unable to eat them, the acidity will increase. Removing these rotting foods will make a great change to the level of acidity in the worm bin. Just be sure not to add as much food the next time you are adding food to the worm bin to prevent future acidity problems.
How often to add bedding to the worm bin?
When you are adding food to your worm bin once a week you may start to wonder when it is time to add new bedding to the bin. This can be confusing as you should be adding a new layer of damp newspaper whenever you are adding food. Fortunately, most people have done this before and there is a set schedule you can follow to adding new bedding to your worm bin.
You should never replace all the bedding in the bin, as this should be turning into compost over time while adding a new thick layer of bedding every single time you are adding food to the bin. Usually, this will mean you are adding a fresh layer of bedding once a week to allow the worms to live comfortably.
The best types of bedding will be able to hold moisture while allowing oxygen to penetrate the deeper parts of your bin. These are the beddings that will be made from mulch, rotten leaves, newspapers, or even shredded cardboard.
What do you do with a worm farm in the seasons?
When you have your worm farm safe and ready to start producing you may soon find yourself in changing season, and in most tropical or temperate climates this won’t be a problem. However, most of the gardens that do need worm farms to experience one or two of the extreme temperatures of the world.
Either being too cold or too warm in the season can damage your worm farm to the point where everything dies, and you have to start fresh. Having this happen can be an extreme pain as you would now have to empty everything and work to get it all emptied again. Many times this is when you should be moving the farm as well, as it is not going to survive in its current area.
Keep a worm farm warm in winter
Possibly the biggest challenge is keeping a worm bin warm and ready during the winter seasons, this is because it can easily drop below freezing or snow when in the winter. This will freeze the ground as well and almost instantly kill the worm, who usually dig deep during colder months to escape the winter frosts.
The solution for this is quite simple and it is the reason you need a sump bin to catch the worm tea, you need to move the bin inside, usually a garage or room outside your house. This will keep the worm bin well heated and just the right temperature to keep it going.
Keep a worm farm cool in summer
A much more nuanced problem that worm farm owners experience is the challenge of keeping a worm bin cool during the hottest times of the year. In countries where the outside temperature reaches above 36C a worm bin would become nothing more than muddy worm soup if left in the sun.
To overcome this always make sure that the worm bin enjoys full shade throughout the day and if it does get too warm, simply having a sprinkler or misting system to keep the bin cool from the outside will ensure the perfect temperature. Sometimes it can be a problem if the worm bin is kept inside during these hotter days.
How long can you leave a worm farm unattended?
You are feeding the worms every week and adding the bedding every week as well, which is a lot of work, but you love doing it. However, now and then you may want to go on vacation and leave the worms to themselves, which raises the question of just how long you can leave them to their own devices.
As a general rule of thumb if you have added fresh bedding, enough food, and closed everything off in the right way you can leave a worm farm for 6 weeks without attending to it. This is the maximum amount of time you can go without having to resort to someone just checking in on them and adding some food.
Most people will need to leave their worm farms alone anyway, allowing for some of the natural processes that should be taking place, to take place. Some of the best worm farms are those you can forget about for a week or two and not have to stress about something going wrong.
Building a worm farm is just adding the right soil, getting the right bins, and helping the worms to do their natural thing. As many worm farm owners have their gardens they will be happily using the compost made by the worms to help their gardens flourish, or simply farms the worms to be sold or used for fishing.
Whatever you do though, don’t leave the worm farm lid off and allow all that natural moisture to escape.