A Beginner's Guide to Worm Farming

Worm farming is a fun way to turn your organic waste, like kitchen scraps, into rich fertiliser for your garden in the form of worm castings and worm tea. Worm farming is gaining recognition and popularity, with many schools and some businesses having them set up to recycle lunchtime scraps!

Shopping list

  • Tui Worm Farm
  • Worm blanket or wool blanket
  • Kitchen waste
  • Tiger worms

Setting up your worm farm

1. Purchase your Tui Worm Farm from your local DIY or garden centre, or check out some of the guides online to make your own.

2. Choose a shady position for your worm farm and ensure it is easily accessible to feed your scraps straight to the worms.

3. If you have purchased your worm farm, assemble as per the instructions.

4. Once you have your worm farm set up you need worms. You will need about 1000 (250g) worms to get started, and they can be purchased from a garden centre or DIY store, or if you know someone with a worm farm they may be willing to share!

5. Next you need some bedding material for your worm farm. Worm farm kits will usually supply coir brick. Other suitable bedding materials include: shredded newspaper, office paper or cardboard, brown leaves and straw.

6. Add some compost to help get your worm farm started.

7. Add the worms to the top tray and let them settle in.

Feeding your worms

8. Allow your worms a few days to settle into their new home then add a handful of food scraps to the surface area. Your compost worms will eat raw and cooked food and vegetable scraps from your kitchen. Coffee grinds, tea bags, dust from vacuum cleaners and soaked egg cartons can also be added. Chopping up scraps, or even blending them, will make it easier for the worms to eat your leftovers, quickly!

9. Avoid feeding meat, dairy products or bread as these can attract unwanted pests. Onions, citrus peel and tomatoes are very acidic, so are generally not added, however, small amounts can be used as long as they are well mixed in with other food.

10. As a rule of thumb worms eat approximately ½ their body weight in food, so if you start with 250g of worms, you can feed them approximately 125g of food a day.

11. Place a worm blanket or wool blanket on top of the worms to keep the worm farm moist and dark.

Using worm castings and worm tea

12. Worm farms generally have a tap so you can collect the worm tea in your watering can as it is produced. Water it down to the colour of weak tea before using on your garden.

13. While you can collect and use your worm tea at anytime, collecting the castings (or worm poo), will depend on how many worms you have and how active they are. Generally, once the worms have processed the food scraps in the lower tray, you can remove this tray to use the castings in your garden, or collect small amounts to use in potting mix or seed raising mix at other times.

The contents of your worm farm should feel like a damp sponge. If it is too dry, a spray of water on each layer should provide the moisture needed to keep worms in a stable environment.

If your worm farm collects rain, your worms could drown. Move it into a more sheltered position and add shredded newspaper to absorb excess water.

Click here for our guide to making your own compost >

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A Beginner's Guide to Worm Farming Comments

  • Brought tigerworms ,used a small wheelee bin with drainage holes with a open bottom flap ,read instructions as required,had farm for 2 weeks now seems to be not slot happenings,am i being impatient or have i done something wrong.

    Roy Cresswell

    • Hi Roy, ideally worms need bedding to establish. We're not sure what the open bottom flap is for, are the worms escaping? They need to be kept moist and require regular feeding. Food needs to be small rather than big chunks so it is easy for them to break it down. Ensure the worm farm does not get too hot as this will ‘cook’ the worms. Check out our worm farming guide here for more information.

      Tui Team

  • love the beginners guide to worm farming. very easy read

    Alaina Wirangi

    • That's great to hear Alaina, thanks for sharing this feedback. Happy spring gardening!

      Tui Team

  • Hi, I've had my worm farm for a few years now and it's been mostly pretty successful. However, I've just noticed quite a few slugs in my worm farm! Should I pick them out? Will they eat the worms? Also, when I drain the worm juice out, there seems to be quite a few dead worms coming out of the tap too. Any ideas why they are making their way to the bottom and not top? Thanks, Sally

    Sally Park

    • Hi Sally, is your worm farm too hot and in a really sunny position? The worms are heading to the bottom as they are trying to get cool. Add some bedding to the top layer (damp newspaper, cardboard) to encourage the worms upwards. Is the worm farm food too dry? Add a little moisture if it is. Happy worm farming ^Tui Team 

      Tui Team

  • Hi there, Thanks for the introduction. I have bought a small worm farm for under the sink. Now I realised that the holes on the lid are not covered i.e. by mesh. I am worried about both- worms escaping and attracting unwanted visitors such as cockroaches. Can you please advise what to do? Thanks :)

    Kathryn

    • Hi Kathryn, we suggest you purchase a fine mesh to fit over the container or use nylon pantyhose. You are correct in thinking that fruit flies and other small insects will find their way in to the bin. 

      Tui Team