Setting Up an Earthworm Farm
Setting up an Earthworm farm can be simple and inexpensive.
With a little careful management your kitchen waste can be
processed by earthworms into compost that can be used in the
garden and for indoor potted plants.
You will need…
Food for Worms
DO Include:
Coffee and tea bags
1. Plastic Storage bin with lid (40 – 80
Fruit pulp and peelings
2. Drill and drill bit for creating aeration
and drainage holes
Vegetable peelings
3. Pile of old newspapers
Egg shells
4. Bucket of water
Bread, pasta, rice and
5. 5 litres of finished compost
Cooked vegetables
6. 5 litres of garden soil
7. 200 to 500 Earthworms
DON’T Include
8. ½ litre of vegetable or fruit scraps cut
broken into pieces.
9. Container to catch the liquid worm tea
Meat or dairy products
A 70 litre storage box is ideal for a
worm farm and can be purchased
for between R80 and R90.
1 Use the drill to make aeration holes in the sides of the bin and
drainage holes in the bottom of the bin.
Position the drainage holes so that the worm tea can easily be
collected for use as a liquid fertiliser. 4-5 holes should be sufficient to
ensure good drainage and still make sure the material in the bin
remains moist.
Here the drainage holes are being
drilled in the front edge of the bin so
the worm tea can be collected in a
recycled 2 litre ice cream container
(see later)
2 Tear the newspaper into strips and soak for a few minutes in a
bucket of water.
Newspaper is used as bedding for
the earthworms and needs to be
moist to create the ideal conditions
for the worms
3 Place the soil, soaked newspaper, earthworms and compost in
layers in the bin and mix together.
The bin should be about half full to
leave space for the food waste
which will be added gradually up to
three times per week.
4 Bury the food waste in the material and cover with a layer of
soaked, shredded paper to prevent fruit flies being attracted to the
food waste.
May types of insects may be
attracted to the worm farm. Fruit
flies are the most common problem
insect and good management is
required to prevent them breeding
in the worm farm – keeping food
waste covered and not over feeding
with food waste will keep them
5 Put the lid on the bin and place it in a shady place raised up on
bricks with the worm tea container placed under the bin to catch the
worm tea liquid fertiliser.
Angle the bin forward so that the
worm tea can easily be collected
and used as a liquid fertiliser
6 Once the bin is full and the food waste has been turned into
vermicompost empty the contents onto a piece of plastic. The
earthworms will move down into the compost and the finished
compost can then be removed. The earthworms and any undecomposed material can be returned to the bin.
Vermicompost is rich in nutrients
and can be used as an organic
fertiliser for indoor and outdoor
Tips For Successful Worm Farming
Tip #1: Never Over-Feed Your Worms.
Never feed your worms more food waste than they can eat in a 24 hour
period. The waste will sour and create an acid condition in the bedding, which
will make your worms sick and can kill them.
Tip #2: Keep Your Worms From Crawling Because of the Cold.
Make sure the material in the bin is deep enough for the worms to crawl down
into or they will become too cold and stop eating the food waste.
Tip #3: Keep Your Worms Protected From the Heat.
In the heat of summer, you must monitor the temperature of your outside bins.
Also, maintain the moisture levels of the bedding to keep your worms
cool. Earthworms breathe through their skin and need a moisture layer to do this
effectively. Even if the outside temperatures are very high, if the bedding is
shaded and moist, it will remain cool. And so will your worms.

Setting Up an Earthworm Farm