Finding composting worms

When first involved with worm farming many people buy a worm farm kit or just a kilo or two of composting worms.
However it is quite possible to find your own composting worms providing you have some manure to attract them.
This minimises costs but if you can only find a few worms you will have to wait several months for them to multiply into the thousands needed for a proper 'farm'!

To get your own composting (red) worms you will find some in an old manure heaps or attract them up from deep down to new manure by watering the pile and covering with a tarp or similar.

Buying red worms

There are many 'good' species of worms used for vermiculture and the best vary from country to country.
So take car that if you import worms they wil thrive!
They can be bought by the kilo in some places but not in most SSA countries so it might be best to get the initial local red worms using a technique developed in India using manure, sugar and watering.
It will take longer to breed all the worms you need but they cost nothing!

What worms eat; composting worms, unlike others, do not consume food but the bacteria growing on rotting food!

Worm farm container; the best farms have a container (like a half drum) raised to allow the worm 'juice' to be collected underneath but it is easier and cheaper to multiply the worms on the ground. But there can be problems in some places with invaders!

What is bedding? Bedding is the stuff the worms live in.
  • Shredded paper
  • shredded cardboard
  • peat moss
  • dead leaves
  • old compost
  • aged manure (do not used fresh manure for bedding)
  • coconut coir
  • Dirt / soil from the yard is NOT bedding. Adding a little is ok but no more than a hand-full
  • Mixing several different types of bedding together is fine and great

The bedding needs to be damp. Get a container and put some water in it. Then take a hand-full of your bedding and place it in the water letting it soak for a few seconds. Then squeeze out the excess water just like you were squeezing out a sponge. That is all that is needed to dampen the bedding.
Now take that hand-full of damp bedding and place it into the bottom of the worm home. Repeat this until you have about 4 inches of bedding in the bottom. You are now done adding bedding.
Just an interesting note here that worms can live in damp bedding alone.
The problem being a lack of food so overtime they would not multiply or grow much.

Worms and scrap apples
Next step is to add a small amount of food by placing it on top of the bedding. Small amount means about a cup full.
An optional step is to cover this food with a little bedding to keep flies and smells away.
– What is food? Worms are not picky eaters so just about any fruit, vegetable, nut or bean will work. This includes coffee and filters, egg shells, bread, and even meat and cheese. The problem from meat and cheese is that they can stink like crazy so don’t add them unless you want stinky worms.
You are now done preparing the worm’s home. Any worm would be happy and cozy in there.

It is little understood how noxious weeds are often the result of soils becoming depleted of plant nutrients!
There are still "well-educated people" trying to get poor Africans to use chemical fertilisers on their farms when what they need is lots of compost.

Vermicomposting Water Hyacinth


Hence our study concludes that increase in microbial growth enhances and fastens the rapid

vermicomposting process. It also concludes that water hyacinth weed can be ecofriendly managed by

means of vermibiotechnology. Biomass management by low cost technique is not only environmentally

sound, but also directs towards waste to energy, and application of nutrient enriched vermicompost for

agricultural crops may prove valuable agro economically also.

How Is It Different From ‘Normal’ Composting?

Aside from the obvious difference of utilizing worms while regular composting does not, worm composting is also a cooler (mesophilic) type of composting. Not only is a hot composting stage not required, but it is actually something that needs to be avoided in order to keep the worms alive (although, if the system has enough room for the worms to spread out they should be able to move away from the hot zones).
Here are some other differences:
  • Is a ‘continuous’ composting process – materials are generally added on an ongoing basis, unlike the ‘batch composting’ approach used for hot composting
  • Can be done on any scale – both indoors and outdoors
  • Results in an incredible compost (vermicompost / worm castings) with unique plant growth promotion properties – a little goes a long way!
  • Doesn’t require any turning of material – the worms accomplish this themselves
  • Can handle more moisture (again, worm movement helps to keep things aerobic)

Urban composting
Contamination in towns of organic matter is often a problem. It is usually only used with organic waste produced by food processing. There are mechanical systems for dealing with large amounts of organic waste.

Worm composting toilets; One recent useful entry I've found is at;
This refers mostly to developments in India where they are more advanced that most other countries having started worm farms a decade ago!

Below are those who have already shown an interest in using vermicomposting in several SSA countries.
Maybe it would be good to have contributions from you for an extra web page at

I'm still struggling with this! Do let me have your ideas/suggestions below.

Graham K