Home worm bins offer the opportunity to keep your food scraps out of the landfill and to compost year-round and on a small scale. City dwellers can even keep a small plastic container under the sink for worms to work their magic. To get started as a small-scale worm wrangler, you’ll need to buy a starter quantity of red wigglers, or Eisenia fetida. If they flourish, you’ll be able to sell some of your herd to other erstwhile worm composters.
Calculate how many worms you need for your bin. Order 1 lb. for a standard size bin with a surface area of about 4 square feet, recommends worm bin pioneer Mary Appelhof in “Worms Eat My Garbage.” Order 2 lbs. of worms for larger bins with more surface area.
Place an order with a worm rancher ideally within your home state or an adjacent one to minimize the length of time and the exposure to hot and cold truck conditions for the live worms. Consult online listings of possible suppliers at the site FindWorms.com or at CityFarmers.org. Order by Sunday, because most worm growers throughout the country ship only on Mondays via USPS 2-3-Day Priority Mail to avoid stranding the worms over the weekend in a shipping depot.
Place an order alternatively with worm hobbyists advertising on Craigslist or neighborhood listservs or from a worm compost seller at a farmers’ market for worms. Or buy the worms at a workshop on managing home worm bins sponsored by your local government or extension service.