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Get Started

If you are reading this then it looks like you are ready to jump in and begin raising earthworms! To do this you basically have two choices to house your worms: You can purchase a manufactured grow system or build one yourself. Read on to learn about both of your options.

The Worm Factory

Worm Factory 4 Tray

If you have ever wondered how to compost with worms the Worm Factory has everything you need to get started. The Worm Factory is simple to set up and operate. Managing your Worm Factory takes less than 15 minutes a week. Included with each Worm Factory Standard is a comprehensive instruction guide that makes setup easy and gives detailed tips on how to best manage your new Worm Factory Standard year-round.

Start with just the bottom tray and bedding material included. Start filling the tray with household waste and add composting worms. The worms will process and recycle the waste into fine compost full of nutrients. When the first tray is full, stack another on top. Each tray has a grid bottom, so worms migrate upward as new food is added.

As waste is broken down, moisture filters through the system, taking nutrient-rich particles with it. This makes it possible to harvest organic liquid fertilizer right from the spigot. For more information about the Worm Factory click here.

The Do-It-Yourself Worm Bin

What You'll Need

  • 18 gallon plastic bin
  • 2 lids for plastic bin (one each for top and bottom)
  • Drill
  • 1/8" drill bit
  • Package of peat moss or Large bundle of shredded paper or Cow, rabbit or horse manure
  • Garden Lime (optional)
  • Food scraps
  • Earthworms (recommend 2 lbs)

Step 1: Drill Holes

Drill 1/8" holes on the sides and lid of your bin. Drill a total of 15-20 holes on the sides near the top and 15-20 holes in the bottom. This is for ventilation so your worms can get air and to allow excess moisture to drain. To catch any moisture or worms that may leave the holes in the bottom you can use a duplicate lid (buy 2 bins with lids, when you harvest the vermipost you can store it in the extra bin).

Step 2: Moisten The Bedding

You can use peat moss, shredded paper, coconut coir or composted manure. Use a bucket or similar container and fill halfway with water. Completely submerge the shredded paper, peat moss or coconut coir in the water. Manure doesn't need to be soaked. Then wring out the bedding like a sponge by tightly squeezing until it stops dripping. Just remember that worms don't like soggy bedding.

How to add water to peat

Step 3: Add Bedding to Bin

There are a couple of different ways to do this, depending on what type of bedding you choose to use.

Good To Know Cut a piece of cardboard that matches the size of the bottom of your bin. Place it in the bottom of your bin before adding your bedding -- this will reduce the number of curious worms that may exit through the drainage holes in the bottom of your bin.

Shredded Paper

Add paper until bin is 3/4 full.  Be sure to "fluff" up the bedding so that it isn't matted or too compacted. Add some dirt for "grit" -- this gives your earthworms something to help their gizzard pulverize their food. You can soak the paper in water or "mist" it with water (see video for example).

Good To Know Add shredded newspaper directly to your bin while dry, then mist it with water for your garden hose or spray bottle.

If your bin is too wet, try adding a layer of dry shredded newspaper on top.  In one or two days you'll find that the dry paper has absorbed the excess moisture.

Peat or Sphagnum Moss

Method 1: Fill bin 3/4 full with moistened peat. Feed bin with kitchen scraps. Fluff bin when necessary.

Method 2: Fill bin 1/2 full with moistened peat.  Add 4-5 inches of shredded newspaper. Feed bin with kitchen scraps. Fluff bin when necessary.

Method 3: Layer the bin with peat, lime, and manure. This method ensures that the pH level of your bedding isn't as acidic as using just peat moss, plus calcium is essential to worm reproduction. Add 3 inches of peat, then sprinkle two teaspoons of garden lime, then add 3 inches of composted manure.  Repeat until bin is about 1/2 to 3/4 full. Fluff bin when necessary.

Good To Know Don't use slaked or hydrated lime -- it will burn the worms.  Examine the label on the bag of lime.  If it lists "calcium hydroxide" DO NOT USE.

Step 4: Add Food Before Worms

Adding food before your worms arrive is a good idea -- it allows time for microorganisms to begin to decompose the food. Your worms actually digest the algae, fungus, and bacteria that grow on and help to decompose organic material, whether it be kitchen scraps or paper.  Bury a fist-sized mass of food scraps to your bin around a week before you adding your worms.

Step 5: Add Worms

When your earthworms arrive, just gently dump the contents of the bag on top of your bedding.  Give them a hand and gently spread them across the surface.  You can leave the lid off for a little while -- this encourages your worms to burrow into your bin to escape the light.