You’re reading this because you’ve googled “how to start a worm farm”. Starting a worm farm in your apartment is easier than you think. Worm bins and farms are an apartment-friendly way to compost your fruit and veggie scraps and turn them into compost. Vermiculture, otherwise commonly known as worm farms, is one of the best ways to compost in an apartment. An apartment worm bin is low-effort and great for beginners. All you need is a little time and food scraps! We’ll take you step-by-step to turn your food scraps into compost with an apartment-friendly worm farm!
What is Vermiculture?
Vermiculture is the practice of raising nitrogen-fixing worms. Starting a worm farm in your apartment is a great way to compost your food waste and reduce your carbon footprint by allowing organic scraps to properly decompose, lessening methane production.
Instead of throwing your spoiled fruits and veg directly into the trash, you’ll be adding your food scraps directly to your worm bin instead! Now that you know how easy it is to start a worm farm in your apartment, let’s talk about how to do it.
What are the Benefits of Worms?
I’ve started composting because I was concerned about the volume of food scraps I was throwing away weekly. I’d heard the effects of throwing away food waste to land-fill was more detrimental than composting, so I decided to give it a go and haven’t looked back! Worm farms are a great way to make sure your food waste decomposes quickly without the addition of toxic greenhouse gasses when your food waste goes to land-fill!
Starting a worm farm in your apartment is the best way to start composting.
Getting Started with a Worm Farm
Worm bins come in a variety of different sizes, shapes, and materials. This makes it a bit hard to choose what is best for you. Here is a general list of common bin types:
- Fully suspended bin: is made from sturdy metal wire. It looks like a big bin but there is no air circulation inside. If you live in a hot apartment, you might want to avoid these bins.
- Bottom-up bin: is often made of wood and glass. It has a bottom in the bottom of the bin. This allows air circulation and oxygen to reach the worm’s habitat. Worms are used to these bins as they don’t have to climb to the top to eat.
- Horizontal bin: This is a smaller version of the fully suspended bin. It’s is easy to assemble and easy to clean. However, these bins are just a short description.
The Benefits of Apartment Worm Farms
When you think about composting, you may be imagining vermicomposting gardens or raised beds. This isn’t necessary for worm farming! Worms eat and break down the most common food scraps – like apple cores and eggshells. Most household food scraps are suitable to feed your worm farm. When you’re starting your worm farm, be careful not to overfeed your bin, as this can lead to anaerobic decomposition or even protein poisoning.
How Do I Buy Worms?
Depending on the amount of food scraps you have to feed, you can buy your worm bin and earthworms from your local feed store or a worm distributor.
How Composting Works
It takes about 50 days or around 8 weeks for food scraps to break down into a nice, rich compost – often known as black gold! A well-made worm farm will be an effective way to reduce your apartment’s trash without taking up too much space.
What You Need to Get Started with an Apartment Worm Farm
- Two bins or tubs (or you can purchase a ready-made one)
- Your kitchen scraps
- Shredded cardboard or paper
- Coco-coir (optional)
How To Make Your Own Worm Farm
An apartment worm farm is simple to set up. You may choose to DIY your bin or purchase a ready-made worm farm.
Hydrate coco coir by following the packet instructions. This is the bedding for your worms, in addition to cardboard and paper, you’ll add in.
Once hydrated (but not sopping wet), add your coco coir into your bin followed by your worms. I suggest waiting a couple of days to feed your worms while they get acquainted with their new home. Don’t fret if you see any worms trying to escape if you check on them the next day, this is normal. You can reduce the number of escapees by leaving the lid off with a light shining on top of the worm farm overnight. Worms are naturally light-sensitive and avoid light, so this will encourage your worms to stay down in the coco coir.
While you’re waiting to feed your worms, start collecting your fruit and veggie scraps. You can use an old plastic container or bag – no need to purchase anything fancy! I store my kitchen scraps in the freezer to minimize smells and fruit flies. When the time comes to feed my worms, I pop a bunch of frozen food scraps right into the bin – no need to thaw.
When it’s time to feed your worms, start with a small handful of food scraps followed by a couple of generous handfuls of shredded cardboard or paper. This will ensure the scraps are covered to create a moist environment for your worms! Most guides tell you that you can feed your worms daily or every other day, but this is often much more than what your worms can handle, especially if you’re just starting with a small number of worms.
Monitor how much food your worms are going through and adjust your feeding accordingly. Make sure you add “browns” – cardboard or paper with your “greens” – your food waste at about a 1:1 ratio. If you skip adding browns, this is a fast-tracked way to anaerobic decomposition, leading to a stinky bin!
The moisture level in your worm farm should be damp but not dripping with liquid! I find that there’s enough liquid from my food waste and don’t need to water my worm farm.
Maintenance for Your Worm Farm
After some time, you’ll have created your very own ecosystem! Go you!
With consistent feeding and an optimal living environment for your worms, you’ll raise generations of worms to break down your food scraps, rewarding you with nutritious black gold for your soil.
After a few weeks, your compost is ready to harvest after all of your food scraps have been broken down by the worms. If you purchased a tiered farm, you can go ahead and add tiers to your farm as they grow. If you have a single-layer bucket or tub, this may be the time to harvest the compost for your garden.
What should I not feed my worms?
You can feed your worms pretty much any organic material including eggshells, coffee grounds, fruit and veggie scraps, any produce that’s about to turn bad. There are a few exceptions here which you should avoid to keep your worms happy and healthy.
What can I feed my worms?
You should avoid feeding your worms the following:
- In-organic material such as plastics and metals
- Garlic, onion, and chilli
- Bay leaves
- Cooked food is best to avoid – excess salt can often harm your worms!
- Meat and dairy – while worms can break down meat, they can often be quite smelly and attract unwanted pests such as maggots.
After a while, you’ll get the hang of what you can and can’t feed your worm farm. It’s better to be safe than sorry with your worm farm if you’re looking to create a healthy ecosystem that efficiently breaks down food waste.
Your worm farm will reward you will compost (black gold) that you can use in your garden or as a gift to others. Plus, you’re helping the environment by reducing your carbon footprint by stopping food waste from entering landfill. If we all do our part, we’re helping the planet and ourselves!