Install an Apartment Balcony Worm Farm


  1. Introduction
  2. Vermicompost
  3. Starting a worm Farm

    See Also

  4. Install a Dual Flush Toilet
  5. Smart Apartment
  6. Widescreen LCD for TV


apartment balcony worm farm

Worm Farm on Apartment Balcony

The Smart Apartment is not all electronics. Some smart ideas are biological. The worm farm is one of these. You can save a considerable amount of food scraps, and some paper, going to landfill by having it eaten by special worms (not ordinary earthworms). They produce a useful compost and liquid fertilizer. My worm farm sits quite happily on the balcony of the apartment.


Vermicompost (also called Worm Compost, Vermicast, or Worm Manure) is end product of the breakdown of organic matter by special varieties of earthworms. Vermicompost is a nutrient-rich, natural fertilizer and soil conditioner. The process of producing vermicompost is called vermicomposting.

The earthworm species (or composting worms) most often used are Brandling Worms (Eisenia foetida) or Redworms (Lumbricus rubellus). These species are only rarely found in soil and are adapted to the special conditions in rotting vegetation, compost and manure piles. Composting worms are available from mail-order suppliers, or from angling shops where they are sold as bait. Small scale vermicomposting is well suited to turn kitchen wastes into high quality soil where space is limited.

In addition to worms, a healthy vermicomposting system hosts many other organisms such as insects, molds, and bacteria. Though these all play a role in the composting process, the earthworm is the major catalyst for the composting process.

From "Vermicompost", Wikipedia, 16 March 2006

Starting a Worm Farm

The easiest way to start is with a commercially produced worm farm kit. These are made of recycled plastic or wood. Most farms are rectangular and look like wooden or black plastic box. I have a round plastic one ("Can-o-Worms" brand), which looks like a barrel on stilts. Another common brand is "Tumbleweed". There is also the smaller "4-Tray Worm Composter".

I tried making my own farm using a large plastic plant pot and ended up with a smelly gluey mess. You may have to have several attempts at getting the farm to work. It takes time to learn how much to feed the worms and what (the instructions say no onions, or meat, but a little bit doesn't seem to hurt).

Don't overfeed the worms or the food scraps will just rot. Worms will breed up quickly if the conditions are right, and ideally will double every three months. As they increase in number the amount of food scraps can be increased proportionately - up to a kilo of food scraps per square metre per day. The smaller the pieces the quicker it will be broken down. DON'T USE citrus or onions as worms dislike these. These can go into the compost bin. Meat and dairy foods should also not be used as they attract flies, rats an wasps as they rot. Think about burying these under a favourite fruit tree.

From: "Wonder of Worms", ABC, 2006

My worm farm sits on the balcony and does not look out of place or smell. I have had outdoor lunch and dinner parties next to it and the guests have not complained. But if you are going to show dinner guests, wait until well after they have eaten as the sight of the inside of the farm with bits of food scraps and lots of wiggling worms takes getting used to.

My worm fram is a small one and is enough for one person. Larger farms are design for a family. Mine only needs emptying the liquid fertilizer once a month and the compost about every six months. The fertilizer and compost go on the balcony pot plants. The compost doesn't smell much but the liquid smells a bit like a blood and bone fertilizer when applied.

Because I don't have much to put in the farm and don't like a bucket of scraps in the kitchen, I use the freezer. I place scraps in a plastic ice cream container and put this in the freezer. This way the scraps don't smell. I also poor coffee grounds on top. When a container is full and frozen, I take it out and drop the frozen block of scraps (a "scrapiscle") into the farm. The worms don't seem to mind.

Feeding the worms consists of scraps and some dry matter (a layer of newspaper over the top works well). If you have problems with little flies, add some garden lime. I was worried about flies, so bought a fly trap and put that on top of the farm, but you may not need this.

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