I love using worms to deal with organic recycling and I enjoy telling others how to do it.
How to Start a Worm Farm or Worm Composter
Worm farming is ideal for a family or home-based business. How much you earn depends upon what your goals are and how much time you have to put into it. A worm farm can be a great way to earn extra money, or it can even provide you with a full-time income.
Maintaining a worm bin helps you deal with organic recycling and become more self-sufficient by producing your own nutrient-rich compost and fertilizer. It's also an excellent project for teaching your kids responsibility and management while they earn money for things they want.
Who Buys Worms and Worm Products?
- Worms are in high demand among fisherman via bait shops, wholesale, or direct.
- Worms are needed by farmers for the enrichment of soil and for aiding in the processing of compost.
- The "tea" produced as a by-product (waste) of worm farming is nutrient rich and is an excellent liquid fertilizer for organic gardening.
- Worms are even sold in some pet stores (as food for pets or as pets themselves?!).
A worm composting system can create enough naturally reproducing product to bring you a steady profit if the time and care is taken.
How to Get Started: Buying the Bins
Starting a worm farm (also known as a worm composter) is not difficult, and it is a project that can involve the kids as well as the adults.
The classic method is stacking bins made of any material, but the plastic ones that are found at the supermarket are ideal. Make sure that the bins are of a dark material and not see-through. Worms do not like light at all, so keep things as dark as possible.
Constructing Your Farm or Composter
- In the bottom bin, also called the sump, drill a 15-mm hole on the side directly above the base.
- Inside this hole, place a 12-mm diameter plastic barrel or a tap with washers and seal it tightly with lock nuts. This tap will provide the fluid that will come down from the two upper bins.
- Fill the container with water to see if any leaks out (none should).
- Drill holes in the bottom of the two upper bins for draining the dirt and worm castings into the bin below as well as for migrating worms to crawl through. These holes should be about two inches apart across the base.
- Drill two more rows of holes about four inches from the rim of the bin all around as well. This will allow air to get through.
- Place the composter in a shady spot that is safe from frosts.
Placing and Filling the Bins
- To set up the sump (bottom) bin, first place a layer of bricks on the ground so that the composter will be slightly elevated. This will allow the nutrient-rich fluid or "tea" that develops to drain freely.
- The second and third bins are identical and should have packers at least six inches and no more than eight in height (sealed jars will do nicely). These packers should be placed throughout in the upper bins with smaller ones of four inches in the sump bin. These will keep the accumulation of compost from building up.
- The upper bins should be filled with the proper bedding for maximum production. The top bin should have a material that is both moist and fibrous. Shredding newspaper is a good and inexpensive way to create this.
- A few handful-size scoops of soil and some compost should be mixed in and then left alone for a few days.
- After that, scraps from meals can be added with more bedding placed on top, closing the lid firmly.
- If the food bits that are left don't produce enough moisture, then add water as needed to keep the bedding damp.
Rotating the Bins as Compost Develops
After a time, the worms that are in the top bin will begin to grow in number. The compost created from castings will begin to accumulate.
- When enough compost has developed, stop putting food bits in the top one and rotate the bins so that the second one is on top.
- Put new bedding in the bin that will now be on top and continue again with the waiting and feeding. The worms will begin migrating upward from the second bin to the top bin where the food is located. The lower bin will retain the compost from the worm castings that have been left behind from the worms who moved upward into the top bin.
- Within a few weeks, harvesting of compost and collecting of live worms for bait can begin.
How to Sell Your Worms
Once the composter/worm farm is established, you can decide how to sell the proceeds.
The worms, of course, can be sold to fishermen, either directly or to a bait shop. Since all of us love to eliminate the middleman whenever possible, selling direct to the local fishermen in the area will increase the popularity of the business, especially if the area is in a popular spot for commercial or sport fishing.
Check around for other people who also sell worms for setting the price. Since it takes very little money to get a homemade worm farm started, any price that is set will see a profit very quickly.
The first thing to remember is to package the worms in an attractive, neat container with a tight fitting lid. The lid should have holes poked through to allow air in and the container should be filled with moist, rich soil to give the worms a longer life. No more than a dozen or so should be packaged at a time for individual bait containers.
After they are packaged, head to the marina, the bait shops, convenience stores, or directly to the fishermen themselves. Make sure you are available for any fishing events as well!
Self-Sufficiency for Anglers and Gardeners
Worm farming is a self-sufficient way to have easy access to bait for fishing and the compost material for organic gardening. Expensive store-bought fertilizers and different baits and ways to lure fish to the line are used, but those who want to stay true to natural gardening and bring in the day's catch the old-fashioned way depend on the trusty worm.
There is, of course, the method of going out at night, especially after a hard rain, to dig up the "night crawlers" that will be in abundance. However, many fishermen, both commercial and sport, purchase worms from worm farmers or decide to have their own.
It's not hard to get one started, and these farms can also be used for creating compost material for plants as well as nutrient-rich fodder for animals.
You Can Sell More Than Worms!
There are not only worms to sell from the composter, but the compost itself created from the nutrient rich castings from the worms mixed with the food bits that have settled in the bins to make a profit from as well.
Nutrient-Rich Organic Worm Tea
The "tea" that comes from the fluid drained is an excellent natural fertilizer. Many nurseries, organic farmers and organic gardeners will be interested in buying worm compost, so be sure and check for any you can sell to directly.
Nutrient-Rich Organic Compost
The compost should be bagged in smaller and larger packages made of thick paper or burlap to either sell individually or in bulk. Check around what the pricing is for other outlets to set your own price at a fair amount.
Before long, a worm composting system can create enough naturally reproducing product to make a tidy profit if the time and care is taken. Whether it is a smaller one for personal use in fishing and gardening, a larger farm for mass production, or starting a business for profit, a worm farm can continually keep itself running for many years to come.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Inez on April 05, 2020:
I would like to order worms for our worm bed. We have it ready, how much are they? Our worm bed is 6x4x18"
Cathy on July 20, 2019:
Very helpful.....I want to do this...
mythbuster from Utopia, Oz, You Decide on August 06, 2013:
Interesting information here, kentuckyslone. I've noticed you have a few hubs along the "self-sufficiency" line of thinking (indoor vegetable growing, hydroponics growing tips, etc). I'm enjoying these articles and hope you will write more hub articles to go with what's already here. I'm learning a lot and follow your articles elsewhere on the net, so keep the articles flowing! :)
toomuchmint on June 15, 2012:
Great hub! Worm farms are really great for urban gardeners who don't have the space for a traditional compost bin. Worms are excellent composters, and they don't smell or attract beasties. Thanks for the information!
terrie on February 22, 2012:
to start a worm business how many lbs of worms should i get to get started
Carolyn Dahl from Ottawa, Ontario on June 20, 2011:
Great hub! Lot's of information!
Christina Lornemark from Sweden on June 20, 2011:
Many very good tips and advices here. I had a warm compost with worms before but I never thought of making money out of them. But from this hub I can see that it is possible.
And worms are very valuable in a compost and the result is the best to use in gardening. Reading this reminds me of the benefits with a warm compost and I will start one soon! I left the compost behind when we moved to this house and have forgot to start a new.
Thanks for sharing these tips and for the reminder of all the benefits!