Have you ever considered starting a worm farm?
I hadn’t really thought about it until a few years ago. My husband blurted out the idea around the same time we began raising mealworms.
Now, we haven’t jumped into this as of yet.
However, I’m considering it.
Owning a worm farm is very beneficial. You can sell them to fishermen and gardeners alike. I did a quick scan of Craigslist, and it looks like they are going for around $5 per pound.
That isn’t bad considering they cost you practically nothing to raise in the first place.
They also give you amazing compost that is beneficial to your own garden, or you can sell to help support your homestead.
So how do you start a worm farm?
It’s easy and only requires 7 steps.
1. Decide the Location
Location is so important when raising worms.
If you are like me and can deal with raising worms in your house, then you should. The reason is because of the steady temperatures. Worms can withstand temperatures between 40-80 degrees Fahrenheit.
You do not want your worms in direct sunlight. During the winter months, insulation could help keep your worms protected from the elements a little more. It is also important to keep them out of the rain because you want their bedding moist but not wet from the rain.
If you have a basement, it might be a great option for you.
2. Build the Dream Home
There are three options here.
Option #1: purchase a compost bin.
Option #2: Use an old dresser drawer or wooden box. Drill holes on the bottom of it so the moisture will drain out of it.
Option #3: Invest in two plastic tubs. Drill holes on the bottom of one of them. Then place a brick or small flower pot upside down in the tub with no holes. That way when they are stacked it will be enough to keep them separated.
This allows fluids to drain easier. That is the most important part of raising worms. Worms will drown if the water can drain properly.
Here's a video explaining how to set up a worm farm with plastic tubs:
3. Give Them a Comfy Bed
When creating bedding, think of it as creating a compost because that is basically what you are doing. You can use items like shredded newspaper, shredded cardboard, leaves, other yard scraps, and finish it off with a couple scoops of soil.
The worms need soil like chickens need grit.
It helps them to process their food.
You will need to fill their bin up about ¾ of the way full but be sure to keep it fluffy and airy so the air can circulate properly.
4. Find Your Worms
The most important component to a successful worm farm are the worms, of course!
So where do you find them?
And what kind do you get?
Well, you can buy your worms here. These are European night crawlers; they are the best fishing worm. However, you can also use it for composting, if you’d like.
I would recommend figuring out your customer base before you invest in a worm. Unless, of course, you go with the European night crawlers which will suffice for both.
One final tip, when you decide on your worms and are ready to add them to their bin be sure to add some moist newspaper over them to help protect them and keep some from escaping.
5. Feed Your Worms
Worms have to eat too! They may be small, but they need groceries. So what can you feed them and how much do you feed them?
You are looking for a 2:1 ratio. So for every two pounds of worms, you’ll need one pound of food.
As far as what you should feed them, you need to think like you are making a great compost because, in reality, you are. You need all of the browns from composting.
Need some help on things you can compost? Read this article.
Remember: you wouldn’t want to compost meat, dairy, grains, or oily foods. Plant-based kitchen scraps like carrot skins, potato peels, or apple skins are okay. You can also use ground up eggshells or even grass clippings to feed your worm farm.
If you have a family of 4, you should have plenty of food to feed your worms so don’t worry about that either. However, if you find yourself in a desperate place with no food for them, just shred up some old newspaper. They won’t mind with that for a day or two while you create more scraps to feed them with.
You will need to feed them daily and be sure to place all of their food in one place in the bin. They will come to get it, so you don’t have to worry about spreading it out.
So basically, it's very easy to meet their ‘grocery’ needs.
6. Plan an Expansion
Your worms will grow quickly. So quickly, in fact, that a few months later you will probably need more room.
Isn’t that great?
In case you are wondering about that, the answer is yes. It's amazing how little work and money they required, yet they expand so quickly. And, their expansion equals more money for your pocket.
However, when they need more room what should you do?
Well, you have three options:
Option #1: Find a Bigger Box
You can find a bigger box and make another homemade worm bin with holes in the bottom for proper drainage. It takes a little time, money, or effort to utilize this option. So if it strikes your fancy then go for it.
Option #2: Buy a Bigger Box
You can buy the bigger worm farm here. This option can get a little more costly as worm farms are little more expensive than a plastic tub. However, if you are someone that likes to have something that not only functional but also is nice to look at, then this is a good option for you.
Option #3: Create an Expansion to the Original
If you are satisfied with your original worm set-up, then stick with it. All you will need to do is cut a hole in the side of the box. You will then connect a piece of PVC pipe to that hole. You will need to find a second bin and drill holes in the bottom to make it identical to your first set-up. Then connect the PVC pipe to it.
The worms will eventually realize that the pipe is there.
Once they figure that out, they will crawl through it and into the other wing of their farm. This will give them more room, and they will keep expanding. You can keep adding wings as needed in the future, too.
7. Monetize Your Worm Farm
So now that you know how to raise these worms for profit (if you so choose) how do you make money off of this venture?
Thanks to sites like Craigslist, Facebook, and local yard sale web pages it is very easy to advertise that you have worms for sale. It gets even better if you are willing to ship your items to your customers.
You might also want to consider advertising in local newspapers, setting up a road sign, and also setting up a stand near a popular fishing post.
If you have a green thumb, you could also raise seedlings and sell them and your worms at a local Farmer’s Market. You would be surprised how many people want worms to help their garden.
Also, if you decide to sell the compost they make that would be an additional item to advertise or to sell at the Farmer’s Market.
As you can tell, there are many ways to turn this small idea into a thriving business. You may not get rich from it, but it could become another source of revenue for your homestead.