The best pet for small spaces…or big spaces

Living in a flat sometimes you can be a little restricted with sort of pets you can have. Constrained because of space, landlords, body corporate, prying childrens fingers. All sorts of reasons.

This pet ticks all those boxes though. It doesn’t need regular walks, doesn’t need a kitty litter tray, doesn’t hog the bed at night time, doesn’t chew furniture, doesn’t eat a lot, don’t need costly visits to the vet and doesn’t take much to set them up in their new home.

So what pet is that?

A worm.

Actually a lot of them.

Thousands of the little critters. A worm farm may not be the most interactive of pets, but they eat your compost, don’t take up much space and provide lots of wonderful solid (castings) and liquid fertilizer for your garden or pot plants. Sure you don’t get to play with them, stroke their tiny baldy heads, and their recipricle loving attention is a little wanting but they are still cute in their own hairless way. (And The Monkeys still want to poke and touch them as they would any other pet.)

The average household garbage is about 50% compostable. So instead of going to landfill it gets chewed up and turned into liquid gold by these little fellas.

10 top tips for worm farms

1/ Needs a cool well shaded spot to sit in (easy for a flat or balcony).

2/ You can buy a ready made worm farm (usually made out of recycled plastics) or you can easily make your own. (Try local councils for ready made ones as they quite often have them at cheaper prices, may deliver it and set up for free, and also run free worm farming courses.)

3/ They don’t like eating acidic foods such as onion/ garlics/ citrus fruits. Also no meat/ grains or dairy.

4/ Worm farms shouldn’t smell. There should be a lovely earthy smell, if it does get a bit pongy (stinky) then just stop feeding them for a few days, let them break down the food a bit more. Loosen the food and castings- so its easier for them to manouvre through.

5/ The smaller you chop the food, the easier they can break it down. Saying that, you can also just throw in your scraps, it just takes a while longer to break down.

6/ You can toss in all your vegetable and fruit scraps, but can also pop in ripped up newspaper, soggy egg cartons, hair, tea bags, vacuum dust…. you can do dog poo, but not advised on using the worm castings for your plants afterwards though.

7/ The worm wee can be used as a fertilizer mixed with water. 1 part wee to 9 parts water, and then just watered in to your plants. Your plants will love you for it.

8/ If you were a fishing kind a person= live bait!

9/ Worms like a nice moist environment. The water from the scraps is generally enough to keep things at a moist level during cooler months. However during hotter weather, a little extra added water may be needed intermittently. Some moist newspaper on top of the food scraps (or a hessian bag) acts as a blanket and keeps things at a stable temperature.

10/ After the initial start up, there is no ongoing costly maintenance. The worms continue to multiply (as long as they are fed) and you can’t have too many of the useful little critters.

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28 thoughts on “The best pet for small spaces…or big spaces

  1. My son and daughter in law lived in NYC for 8 years ( they’re back in Ohio for seminary right now, but are headed back to Brooklyn, NY next year) and she WON a worm farm at an ecology fair 6 years ago. They are certainly useful little guys, but I think PET is going it a bit thick. lol!
    I love the gift she gives me each spring of worm castings for my container plants. You really don’t need that much to improve the soil in a pot and my plants take on a healthier shine and put forth sturdy new growth.
    I can’t imagine her letting anyone use them as fish bait.

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    • No, actually I couldn’t use them for bait either…I would feel a little mean. Its great having all the castings and worm wee, just wish I had more places to put it or give it to- not utilised nearly enough.

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  2. I’ve been meaning to start a worm farm for ages and I think your post has nudged me a little more towards doing it! I have always been a composter and I guess I thought there was no need to do both but I’m sure our vegie patch would thank us for some worm tea!

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    • Give it a go Gina. You are in smaller space like me, and it really is great. 1/ all those scraps are going somewhere other than the bin. 2/ Once it gets going its really easy to maintain.
      Your boys will want to ‘help’ feed them, and give them a good poke in no time. Ours just sits directly outside our backdoor.

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  3. Worms are great pets. They work 24/7 and they dont talk back! And your plants/veggies will look Awesome from using the castings as fertilizer/pesticide.
    I have a free worm class on my website if anyone wants to learn more.
    Liz
    BigTex Worms

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  4. Lovely post! I don’t have a wormery, but I do have an earthmaker composter and the bottom chamber is full of worms usually. I think about a wormery too but haven’t got one so far.

    Charles Darwin wrote a lot about worms, thought they were incredibly important!, I read a book by an author called Adam Phillips called Darwin’s Worms, which is where I came across this… 🙂

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  5. Great post! (and lovely photo). We have had our worms for 7 years now and they are still going…their population rises and falls at times due to the seasons. I rarely chop their scraps anymore and they also get the odd bucket of weeds to munch through when scraps are tight. Some of them also were ‘released’ into the garden and have since multiplied in the ground, I often find them when planting or digging. The NICEST thing about them ….was when the kids’ school had a ‘bring along your pet’ day..and while other kids had their dogs/cats/rabbits/chooks/goats(!)/even ponies in tow…I sent the daughter off to school with a takeaway container full of these little guys! Nice. 🙂

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    • Nerd Worm Fact (for anyone vaguely interested)- that photo shows an adult worm. You can tell by the clittellum, the band around the upper part of its body. It secretes a mucus from it.

      Christine I love that your daughter took in a container of her baldy pets. Thats awesome. Who needs a pony when you can have worms I say.

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  6. Worms are certainly wonderful things, but as I’m slightly phobic, I prefer them to stay out of sight. CT worked on a worm farm once – he spent all day pulling them out of their compost – I tried so hard not to think about it. Thankfully, the job didn’t last very long.

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    • Choclette I’m going to tell you a little secret… I am too. At least I used to be. I knew I had to get over it if I was going to keep them. If I see a leech I run like a big girl, if I see a snail humping its lump along I shudder with an audible dry wretch and if I ever stepped on a slug in the night- again a big girly squeal. I don’t do slimey things. So what changed for me and the worms?

      1/ I needed to ‘man up’, they are good worms, not evil slime bags that I originally thought.

      2/ Gardening gloves to handle them- big ones. Slowly I just got used to them, so now I can pick them up without a double heart beat.

      3/ I refuse to act like this in front of my kids. I don’t want to pass on any of my phobias on to the boys.

      That does sound like quite the job for CT!

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  7. City Hippy – hats off to you big time. I have got better and no longer run off when I see them (as I did when a child), but the thought of picking one up is a very difficult one. as for the leeches – that was one of the big downers for me when we were in OZ – those and the snakes!

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  8. My dad had a worm box that he fed all his vegetable scraps to every day.. I made one for my children, it’s just little except we forget about it every now and then,,

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  10. Lovely post. Great photo – at a glance it looks like you’re wearing an interesting ring. We’re looking into the worm farm thing. Hoping to get my 8-year old interested in it too.

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