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
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
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.
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.