We are many things and one of those things is worm farmers. We don’t eat them or harness them to a wagon to drive us around the yard. PHiSH! Come now!
Worm farming is dead simple, just the way we like it. You place worms in an enviroment where they can thrive and feed them. They eat food scraps from the kitchen, garden leftovers and other organic matter (like paper!). In return you get worm castings for your garden.
Molly: I spent almost a year looking at different worm farm designs, listening to podcasts about worm farming and looking at my friends’ worm farms.
Mike: And then one day I grabbed some hay bales from the pile and made a worm farm. A few weeks before a friend had offered us some of his worms so I took him up on it and tossed them into the worm farm.
Molly: Mike’s farm has worked out great. It’s easy to access and we’ve had little maintenance issues with the worms. I’m thinking that New Mexico may be the perfect climate to farm these little guys. What do you think, you little wrigglers you?
Why worm farm?
Getting rid of your kitchen scraps and turning it into wonderful fertilizer is the main reason. Castings (AKA worm poop) is expensive to purchase. Making your own is not only frugal but your garden will love you. Worm castings are like superfood to plants.
Do I need special kind of worms?
Sorta but not really. We got red worms that are supposedly specifically for worm farming but all worms eat organic matter and poop. As long as you give them food they’ll stick around. Here in Santa Fe you can purchase red worms at the Railyard Farmers market. Yep, you buy them from the ‘worm guys’!
So you say you want to make your own worm farm?
The one Mike built is great but if we were to build it again we’d make some adjustments. The farm we will show you has two sides. This makes it simple to get the castings. When one side fills up add food to the other side and the worms will move next door. Once they’ve moved over you can dig out the castings.
6 hay/straw bales
2 pieces of 1/2″ plywood- size will depend on your opening of the top of the worm farm
4 hinges to hinge the doors
2 blocks of wood (aprox. 3″x1″) for door latches
Set three hay bales in the configuration above. Set a wood pallet vertically and then sandwhich the pallet by laying down the next three pallets.
Each side needs a door to keep moisture in and animals out. A piece of plywood that overlaps the opening by a few inches will do. If you want to get fancy attach hinges to the plywood and the pallet. A door latch is very convenient too. Screw a block of wood to the end of the pallet. Make sure it’s loose enough so that when you open the door it can turn 90 degrees and hold the door up while you are dumping worm food in.
Your worm home is done. Now it’s time to start farming!
Add a few inches of dirt to both sides.
Pick a side that where the worms will live. We’ll call it ‘side A’.
Add your worms to side A. On top of the worms go table scraps and some paper. Don’t be skimpy. You don’t want your worms starving. On top of the scraps add a few inches of hay. The hay will insulate the worms and help keep things moist. They like a cool moist environment to live in.
Side B stays empty.
Keep feeding side A. Pull the hay back and dump food scraps and paper on the worms then replace the hay on top. Check them every few days to make sure they have enough to eat. If their home seems dry, water it. They like damp but not soaking.
Over time you will notice that there is more ‘dirt’ in side A. This is the worm castings pilling up. How fast it goes all depends on how much you are feeding them, how many worms you have and how healthy they are. It should smell like fresh dirt and be full of wriggling worms just under the surface.
When the castings fill the area 3/4 of the way you are ready to move them over!
The worms will move from side A to side B on their own if you stop feeding side A and begin to feed side B.
On side B put a layer of food scraps and a few inches of hay.
Continue to feed side B. After a week or two side A will be ready. Check to see if the worms moved over then get a shovel and start scooping poop!
Once side B fills up start feeding on side A again!
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