How Many Worms Do you Need for your Wormery?
Whether you are using a commercial wormery or a home made worm farm, to get up and running quickly, you are best to begin with a reasonable amount of worms. The number of worms is one of the factors that will determine how fast your wormery works. If you are hoping to process 1lb (0.5kg) of organic waste a day, under ideal conditions, you need 2 lb (1kg) of worms.
Of course under those same ideal conditions your worms should double in numbers until they have reached a maximum determined by the conditions in which they are stored – the main influencing factor being the top surface area and the size of the container in which they are kept.
So in theory you could start with a handful of worms, look after them well and wait for them to take over the world. (Or their container.)
To buy enough Compost Worms may be Expensive
Given that when buying, composting worms you are likely to pay over $30 per pound, starting with a handful may be a good option if you are on a tight budget. The other thing to consider is that the 'ideal conditions' in your wormery that I mentioned above, can sometimes go wrong and you can end up killing off a proportion of your worm herd. So starting with a small number, seems an even better idea while you learn how to manage them.
Ask a friend
The easiest place to get free worms, is to ask a friend or neighbour who already has a wormery to give you a handful. This is often the best option as an enthusiastic vermicomposter will give you loads of advice and backup along with the worms. It's a good idea to get some well worked bedding from them at the same time, so your worms will have a comfortable habitat and you will have plenty of good micro organisms to get your wormery under way.
If you don't know anyone with a wormery, then try a local gardening clubs, or look on-line at recycling forums, Craig's list, or up-cycling groups. Join a vermicompost forum or group and post a request for advice and worms from someone in your area.
Cheap Composting Worms- a handful from a friend
Composting Worms â in your Compost Pile!
The next idea is for anyone with a compost heap. Any active compost heap will have hundreds of composting worms already active, although they may be hard to spot as they hate light and vanish below the surface. Loosely wrap some food remains (non cooked unless it is in a vermin proof container) in damp newspaper and bury at the centre of your compost heap. The worms will be attracted to the new food and after a week or so dig up the whole bundle and use it to start your wormery.
A Load of Horse Manure
You will also find composting worms in their thousands in piles of well aged horse manure. A good shovelful from the middle of the pile will normally yield more than enough worms to get started. If you want to separate them from the horse manure (although it is great bedding for an outdoor wormery), make a conical pile and leave for about twenty minutes. The worms will make their way into the centre of the pile away from the light. Then scrape the surface off the pile, and leave for another twenty minutes. Keep repeating this until you have a small pile which is mainly made up of worms with only a small amount of horse manure.
It is a good idea to prepare your wormery before you get started, so that your worms have somewhere to settle in to when you get them. The container and bedding should be ready at the very least, and possibly some (a small amount) of pre-rotted food to so that the worms have a comfortable habitat to settle in to. Worm are fragile, so you want to keep manipulations to a minimum after they move in.