6 good reasons to start a worm farm (and how to do it)

Worm Farm at Noordhoek Farm VillageThere are hardly any good reasons these days not to have worms hard at work munching on your food scraps.  Worm farms are easy to make or buy, and even if you don’t have a garden, there’s absolutely no excuse – you can keep them indoors under your sink!

So, if you haven’t already started your worm farm, here are six good reasons to get cracking as soon as possible…

1.  Free compost and plant food.

A worm farm is a really (really) easy way to convert all your food scraps into the most amazing plant food.  The hungry red wigglers gobble it all up and provide you not only with a compost exceptionally rich in the micro-organisms that make for enthusiastic plant growth, but also with worm ‘tea’, a fabulous (natural) liquid fertiliser.  And they do it all for free!

2.  Less waste going to the dump

Landfill sites are bulging at the seams.  By processing all or most of your food waste (in addition to recycling) you can reduce the amount of garbage you’re sending to our already over-burdened waste dumps.

3.  No more smelly garbage bins

The less food waste you put in your bin, the fewer flies and other nasties you’re likely to get coming to find something upon which to munch.  If all that’s in there is stuff you can’t either recycle or compost, you won’t get horrible smells and sudden hideous eruptions of maggots (blech – reason enough for me!)

Soil For Life mega worm farms - in bath tubs4.  The earth is running out of topsoil.

Topsoil – you know, the stuff that’s ultimately the source of most of the nutrients and minerals we get in our food?  The food that makes human life sustainable?  Well, it’s washing right off the land and into the ocean at a mind-boggling rate (in some places as quickly as 10 times the rate that it forms) because of erosion – mostly as a result of modern agricultural practices.  The compost formed from vermiculture nourishes our increasingly depleted soil, and gives it a chance to produce more vegetation (which in turn goes back into the soil, boosting it further).  Every little bit counts.

5.  Because it’s so darned easy to do… (and cheap, too)

If money is no object, buy a ready-made worm farm (see below).  They’re set up for you, and come in a variety of sizes and designs to suit your needs.  If your budget is tight, though, make your own!   It’s so easy, even I managed to get it right (ie the worms are still alive).

my own worm bin - when i first set it upI spent about R30 on a container from the supermarket, bought a starter kit of worms for R50 (from a stall at the Porter Estate Produce Market), followed the instructions provided (see the guides below for tips on how to do it) and, hey presto, I have a working worm farm!  And, once the worms are established, they start reproducing, which means you can soon make another farm, and another, and process even more waste.

6.  That there warm fuzzy feeling

Yep, there’s something about doing your bit for this beautiful planet of ours that evokes a distinctly warm and fuzzy sensation that can be rather intoxicating.  Happiness is…

Right, so hopefully you’re convinced… now for some info on how to go about it.

Where to buy a worm farm in Cape Town:

  • Soil for Life – sell worm farms innovatively made out of used car tires – for R220 including worms.  They may not be as pretty as other farms, but they’re top of my list because they’re recycled and their purchase directly benefits the community.
  • Organic Solutions – ‘wormomatic 150R500, ‘mini-towerR650 (including worms, but not delivery).
  • Wizzard Worms – ‘Domestic kitchen waste unit’ – R 635.00 (including worms and delivery)
  • Wiggler Magic Worms – ‘Magic Supreme Worm Farm’ R695-00 ((including 500 worms, but excluding delivery). Currently running a launch special on their larger ‘Worm Factory': R775-00 (including 500 red wiggler earthworms, no details about delivery).
  • Full Cycle ‘Worm Factory’ – from R770 (excluding earthworms +R165, and delivery +R160)

How to make your own worm farm:

Related articles about worm farms:

So, there you go…  no excuses – time to get your own little farm up and munching!

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43 Comments

  • Candice says:

    hi pia, cool article!

    i have had my wormie guys for about 8 months now and they rock!
    i just wanted to share some info with you about my worm bin which i bought from Soil For Life (you said there is a lack of info on their website).

    the whole she-bang cost me about R200 (incl the worms). there are a WHOLE LOT of reasons to get one of their bins:

    1) it’s made from recycled tyres (and we all know how awful tyres are – they like NEVER biodegrade)
    2) it’s made by a man from one of the poor communities they work in, and he gets the bulk of your spend
    3) it’s not made of plastic, specially made for this purpose (as many of the “proper” worm bins on the market are) so you’re not creating more plastic for this purpose
    4) it’s not imported (as many of the “proper” and expensive worm bins are) so you aren’t contributing to climate change.

    Short of making your own, it’s the most ECO-friendly and SOCIALLY responsible way to get hold of a worm bin. Plus, you get to go down to Soil For Life in Constantia. It’s marvellous down there. They have a huge organic veggie plot. You can pick and buy your own veg or buy seedlings or seeds… A fun little outing.

    I love my worms. And my plants love their tea.

  • Pia Taylor says:

    thanks, candice!
    and thanks for the info on those soil for life worm farms… i remember you writing about having a worm farm, now that i think of it. you’re so right – all those reasons you gave make it the best choice by far. i’ve had my worms for a couple of months now, and only saw the tire farms about two weeks ago when i was doing a soil for life course (another thing i’m behind in writing about!). mine was such a rudimentary setup and i wasn’t at all sure it would work… but somehow it did, hooray!

    and my plants just love that tea, too…

  • Candice says:

    am SO jealous that you’ve done one of their courses!! which one? i really really wanna do the veggie gardening one, but am so broke right now (being a student sucks only for the broke-ness reason) that i can’t afford it.
    mind you, i have already done a permaculture course, and been taught a LOT by the organic farmers i met and lived with in India, so technically i probably know a whole lot. but it’s just the kind of thing that i could hear over and over again. kinda like history class. i loved history at school. i could go back to school and learn history again every few years and still love it. am i weird? maybe. maybe i’m just the eternal student…
    anyway, PLEASE find time to do a review of the class… am dying to hear about it.

  • Pia Taylor says:

    i did the ‘grow to live’ course – which is a whole weekend of learning how soil works, and rethinking your view of ‘pests’ (but also how to control them), finding out about worm farms, composting, creating eco-circles, water-wise gardening, companion planting (the basics) – it was awesome! and yes, i must write about it soon… i know what you mean about history… also one of my favourite subjects! luckily, it’s the kind of information one can get easily from ever so many books so one CAN be the eternal student (i think one is, anyway – as we’re all always learning something or other). i’ll try to get that review done soon…

  • tony says:

    hi pia,
    thanks for the great tips, please tell me where the porter estate produce market is. i reallt need to get some of those starter worms.

    kind regards.

    tony

    ps: i live in kalk bay

  • Pia Taylor says:

    hi tony
    the porter estate produce market is held at the chrysalis estate in Tokai. http://www.pepmarket.co.za.

    coming from kalk bay, along main road, turn left at the blue route, towards tokai. pass the tokai library and to the circle. straight through the circle and on until you can’t go any further (t-junction). turn right and they’ll direct you from there.

    have fun!

  • Glynnis says:

    Hi there anyone reading this, it sounds like Cape Town is the place to get the worms, I’m in Durban and the prices they want to charge for these little wrigglers is ridiculous.
    Can Anyone tell me where I can get the worm farm cheaper or where I can get the worms from here in Durban or Pmb
    Much appreciated.

  • Clive says:

    You can get fifty worms for R50 at that little nursery next to the Umgeni Bird Park. They also have starter packs and various worm farms for sale.

    Clives last blog post..Birds of a feather

  • Andries says:

    Good day to all,
    One question,How do i keep fruit flies out of my worm bin?They are becoming very painfull as i now have little maggot kinda things in the bin…Big job trying to rid them although my chickens enjoy!Seems flies are getting in too!On the whole worms bought at Riverside nursery are doing well and seem to be breeding rather quickley..stoked!!

    If anyone could be of assistance with regards to my problem,i would appreciate it very much.

  • Pia says:

    Hey Andries

    I’m not quite sure… I’ve not had much trouble with fruit flies, so far. But at a guess I would say the way to minimise their interest is to cover the stuff they like with a good layer of damp newspaper (either flat, or in torn up shreds). Then, every time you add new stuff, you push aside the top layer, and deposit the new stuff below it, replacing the ‘cover’ when you’re done.

    Good luck!

  • Vernon says:

    How does fruit flies get into a worm farm?

    Most people collect and keep their worm food (peels, veggies and fruit) in a little bucket in the kitchen, mostly without a lid. This is a perfect opportunity for the fruit fly to lay their eggs on this source.
    By either freezing, or microwaving the food for 4 minutes prior to adding to the system, you will kill all the eggs of fruit as well as ordinary flies. You will also in speeding up the breakdown of the food.

    Fruit flies easily enter the worm farm either through the ventilation holes or while you’re feeding the worms.

    I have found by placing a wet solid newspaper (the whole newspaper) directly over the food (always the top tray that is in use) over the food, that the fruit fly problems are virtually eliminated within 48 hours. You will have to replace this at least twice a month in a mature system as the worms eat away the center.

  • Sean Kelly says:

    Hi there,

    I live in Johannesburg. Does anyone know where I can get additional worms for my worm farm in/around Gauteng?

    Please email me at seankelly808@gmail.com

    Thanks,
    Sean

  • Hi,

    Does anyone know where i can get worms at a reasonable price in JHB?

    A worm bin for R200??? That is VERY CHEAP!

  • loki says:

    Nice info !!!

    I have maid my own wormfarm with a 25lt bucket!! all you need to do is make a hole at the bottom and insert a plastic fitting you get at almost all gardening supply stores ( i connected a plastic hose on it so the worm ”tea” go straight into the container i use) ….I know there is a lot said that these worms are special breed and what not… but i have used NORMAL worms that you get at a fishing store (Cost next to nothing) AND THEY WORK! No Need to pay R500 + Bha!!!! with that it all cost me a full R60 and i get aprox 2lt of ”tea” a week…. i even give it to my orchids and they love it!! MAKE YOUR OWN!

  • Pia says:

    well done! i don’t think my little worm farm is quite as sorted as yours – perhaps i’ll go and look for a little plastic fitting soon. 2lt of tea is quite a feat – you must have some of the happiest plants about :-)

  • Kate says:

    And mine is working like a dream!

  • Barry Aver says:

    Hi

    Just to let anyone know I sell worms and bins (the neverfill type), in George on the Garden Route. I also give a 3hr introductory course on vermiculture. My email is worms@vodamail and my cell is 082 404-9539.

    Kind regards
    Barry Aver

  • Hi

    We are located in cape town and we breed and sell compost earthworms(by weight).
    pricing and contact details are on my web site-earthwormparadise.webs.com

  • Pia says:

    Good to know – thanks for adding your details!

  • Denise Cowan says:

    Worm Farm Kits from R250.00 including worms.

    Denise Cowans last blog post..Competition

  • Janet Rademan says:

    I am in Port Elizabeth and I would like to know who supplies worm farms in my area (I would prefer wooden worm bins) and worms.

    Janet

  • Pia Taylor says:

    Hi Janet

    Denise from Wormsrus emailed to say the following:

    “We post worm farms all over SA but our are plastic which has longer durabilty to wood.” Go to http://www.wormsrus.co.za to find out more.

  • Francois van der Walt says:

    EarthwormAfrica
    Wholesale Earthworms (red wigglers, Eisenia Foetida)
    For use in making vermicompost (at home or retail purposes), resellers, start-up earthworm farms, educational purposes, fish and tackle shops or household use. Limited supply available at reduced prices.

    R290.00/Kg (that is ±4000 worms!)
    Discount on orders of 100kg or more

    For more details e-mail Francois van der Walt at f_vanderwalt@yahoo.com or phone at 0738642625

  • Linda says:

    Where in Brackenfell CT can I buy some worms?

  • Derek says:

    Hi. I am in Capetown on holiday. I am intrigued. I would like to take a farm back to the Island with me, probably minus the worms as I dont think I would be allowed to import them. Is there somewhere inCapetown I can see this at work and get a brief introduction??

    Derek

  • Howard says:

    Can you help by telling where I can get worms in the Tableview area Cape Town.

    Thanks

  • millen says:

    Hi,

    I would like to farm worms and sell the fertilizer on a commercial basis.

    has anybody tried to do this before? what is the market like?

    Regards,
    Millen

  • millen says:

    Hi,

    I would like to farm worms and sell the fertilizer on a commercial basis.

    has anybody tried to do this before? what is the market like? please advice me. I have a huge supply of waste food and i am planning to make a business out of it while helping the planet.

    Regards,
    Millen

  • B A Molefe says:

    I want to start Earthworm Farm and i stay in Brits near Pretoria,were can i get supply around that area? I don’t only want supply but i olso need an expert to advise me on how to run a successful earthworm Farm. Your respond will be highly appreciated. B A Molefe.

  • neil says:

    hi guys i am doing a project on soil science the question is, what are the 10 most problematic features of soil, can anybody help me. please email me.nsvkinnear@gmail.com

  • barbara says:

    Hi guys im doing the same project as neil and would love some help. Need to know the 10 most problematic features of soil and solutions to these problems. You can email me thank you

  • barbara says:

    Email address for barbara vrooyen.barbara@gmail.com

  • ELIAS says:

    Hi i need help on my project (soil science).What are the most problematic features of soil and their solutions.E-mail elias@gmail.com thank u

  • vele says:

    what are the ten most problematic features of soil , and what are the solutions to each?

  • isaac mapfumari says:

    hollo guys im on the same project as BARBARA, pleace help. Need to know the ten most problematic features of soil & solution to each. Pleace help me qiuck pleeeeeeeace

  • Ashley Phillips says:

    Hi guys im doing the same project as neil and barbara would love some help. Need to know the 10 most problematic features of soil and solutions to these problems. Can you please email me :) bashphillips@gmail.com

  • Victor Breach says:

    Help! I have had a worm farm in a steel bath for 3 yrs and had good results, but now all the worms have died. Plenty of food, no meat or citrus, not over watered. Bath is not insulated could this be a problem? There is a steel cover over the top. The only thing I have found is that ants have found the food, could these kill off the worms.

    Any ideas PLEASE. Replies to: victorb@omail.co.za

  • Lesedi says:

    Elo guyz i lyk to knw about de problematic features of soil n their solutions ?.tanx plz foward mi answers as soon as possible

  • Shane says:

    I just bought a worm farm, so stoked.

    I am growing most of my own veggies, so I am very excited to see he difference that work tea and compost makes.

    It will hopefully also keep the cats out of my bin.

  • symon says:

    dont think meat is advisable for ur worms that shud go into a bokashi bin.

  • Pia Taylor says:

    They’re the best – I have two going and the worms are so efficient!
    And, that tea is super-effective in the garden. Enjoy it!

  • Joyce says:

    HOW DO YOU GET THE WORMS TO GO TO THE NEXT BOX ON TOP, MUST THE SCRAPS BE RIGHT AT THE TOP OF THE BOTTOM BOX?

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