Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How To Make a Worm Farm With Your Kids by Jill Knussmann

Jeffco Extension 4H Cloverbuds  Show Off Wormerys!

In the dog days of summer, take a step into the cool shade to do a project with the kids.  Fact: Kids love worms.  Therefore, what could be better than making a worm farm? Benefits include knowledge gained about nature’s recycling process, nutrient rich worm castings to be used as a soil enhancer, and time shared with your kids. Let’s get started. 

Gather the following items:
2 cup plastic container with lid
Black paper to cover container and tape
Knife for poking holes in plastic container (adults only on this task)
1 cup shredded paper (from a paper shredder ideally, but torn up is fine)
Spray bottle of water
1 or 2 tablespoons of worms (Purchase Red Wigglers from a bait store.  For larger volumes they can be purchased on line.  Red Wigglers can adapt and thrive in captivity, while earthworms will not adapt.  Red Wigglers will not survive Colorado winters, but are fine for summer gardens if you choose to put them outside eventually. )
1 or 2 tablespoons of chopped vegetable waste.  Weight of food scraps should be the same as the weight of the worms.  Worms love melon rinds, fruits and veggies. They like coffee grounds, tea bags, crushed egg shells and banana peels.    They don’t really like citrus, onion or garlic. Worms cannot eat fatty or salty foods or they’ll get sick.  Also, please don’t feed them meat because it can smell bad and put germs in the wormhouse.

Put it together:
Have an adult punch holes in the container’s top, bottom and sides.  4 holes, ½ inch in diameter, on the top, bottom, and side of the container should provide adequate ventilation. (total of 12 holes)  The worms will be attracted to the food and will not crawl out.
Tape black paper over the container to keep it dark.  Worms are shy and like the dark, just like when they dig in the ground.
Place ½ cup shredded paper in bottom of container. 

Spray with water until paper is moist, not soggy.  This is the worm’s bed.  They breathe through their skin and have to stay moist.  Try to keep it fluffy instead of squished into a ball.
Add remaining ½ cup paper 
Moisten remaining paper with water.
Dig a wide hole half of the way down in the paper for your worms’ bed.
Add equal wieght finely chopped food scraps on top of your worms for dinner.  
Put the worms in their bed and cover them up with paper.
Leave them alone
Worms don’t really like to be handled, so wait a week and let them settle into their new home. Next week check on your worms. 
Pull back the covers and see if your worms have eaten all of their food.  If most of it is gone, give them the same amount of chopped up food.  Cover them up again.
Repeat until worms have consumed most of their bedding as well as the food and created worm castings.
Separate worms from castings. Castings are the brown soil-like particles you will see with the worms.  Use the castings on top of indoor or outdoor plants for a nutritious soil supplement. 
Start the process over with your worms.  When you have twice as many worms as when you started, you can use a larger container, or give half to a friend.

If you decide you would like to create a larger worm farm and enjoy a larger volume of castings, please go to for instructions.