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How to Start a Worm Farm

We have another fun article from our writer in New Zealand. It details how to start a worm farm. The process is the same in the states, but be sure to check with the post office about how you should ship your worms.

How to Become a Worm Farmer

By Tanya Whitehead

Most people, even if you live in the city, know that a sign of healthy soil is one which is full of worms. Perhaps what they may not realize, however, is that it is quite simple to breed worms to sell as a part time business. It is so easy that it is a good job for youngsters and pensioners alike.

Worms not only help to aerate the soil, but their castings (their poop) are excellent natural fertilizer.

People are increasingly turning to growing organic food, and they need a good supply of worms in their gardens and pot plants through-out the year. There seems to be a big demand for them, one which is quickly outstripping supply.

Setting up a worm farm in your home is relatively easy and should not cost you more than $10. It will work even if you live in an apartment or you can do it in your basement. Your initial cost will be some worms from your local nursery or online supplier, and then a box. Then all you need is to feed them once a week and keep an eye on the moisture level.

The Set Up

First thing to do is to build your worm box. These can range from simple ice-cream Tupperware (but then you won't be breeding a lot of worms) to a large scale version made from a large plastic or wooden box. The larger your container, the more worms you are going to be able to breed, and the more money you will be making. 1,200 worms need a square foot of surface area. You do not need a box that is deeper than 24 inches, as the worms will not dig down further than this. You can also do a few containers in a size that is easy to manage and divide the worms between them.

Plastic is easier. It must have a lid or you can use a heavy tarp or covering, as this keeps the moisture in, and you need to have access to an electric drill so that you can drill holes into the box.

Fill the bottom of the box with some bedding made of ripped up newspaper or cardboard, some people even add straw or garden clippings, and then wet it so it is nice and moist. Leave it for a day before you introduce your worms.

Add the food which is vegetable scraps from your kitchen that is cut up a bit which makes the worms eat it faster.They also like crushed raw egg shells which gives a good dose of calcium, coffee grounds, and even your tea bags, if you remove the staple. Do not feed them meat or a lot of citrus. Every time you feed the worms, also add some dry bedding in strips such as newspaper and hay. This also ensures it is not too wet in there and creates a good balance.

Once a week wet the top layer to create moist conditions. It is a good idea to leave a layer of newspaper on top, as this also discourages fruit flies. There is no smell, so don't let that put you off.


Don't go and look for worms in the local park, these are the wrong ones! You need to buy either Red Wriggler or European Nightcrawlers. 1,000 mature worms that have been well cared for, will give you around half a million worms within a year. 1,000 Red Wrigglers will cost you about $25 so that would earn you about $12,500. That is a good business! Buy 5,000 worms and it gets even better. Of course, you need a bigger area, as these need to be put into more bins.

Each worm lays an egg capsule every 7-10 days, and from this two to three weeks later, hatches out 2-20 worms. Yours should be ready to sell within 3-9 months, so don't expect to make money straight away. But from then on, you have mature breeders and it goes much faster. Be sure not to sell all your breeders, so that you can continue to breed. You can ship them in peat moss in paper bags, priority mail.

Related Opportunities

From worms come their castings and liquid, which makes a very good fertilizer which is much sought after. This is vermiculture. You can sell these fertilizers too.




Editors Note: Once your worm farm is up and running there are two markets for the worms. Red wigglers (Eisenia foetida) and European Night crawlers (Eisenia hortensis) are both bought by gardeners for use in compost systems (vermicomposting) and by fishermen and fisherwomen.

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