How to make your own Worm Farm (Hint: It’s cheap, portable and balcony friendly!)

How to make your own Worm Farm (Hint: It's cheap, portable and balcony friendly!) - The Urban Ecolife

I may get a few cringes, but I ‘m totally geeking out about the thought of starting up my own worm farm. The excited like a little kid in a candy store kind of excited.


Living on the 7th floor of an apartment complex doesn’t leave me with a lot of options for composting. A little part of me dies every time I have to toss some organic scraps into the trash can. I honestly believe:

What is of the earth, should be returned back to the earth.”

So with this in mind, it’s been a goal of mine for some time now to establish a composting system on my balcony. With limited space and a strict body corp to keep happy, it had to meet these 3 crtieria points though:


1. It had to be portable

My lease is ending in a few months and I want to be able to easily transport my precious gold mine with me.


2. It had to be well sealed

This is to avoid any potentially unpleasant aromas wafting into my neighbours lounge room (their window backs onto our balcony) and of course, for my own personal benefit. I like to sit on balcony to enjoy the view of the gorgeous sunsets we are blessed with so I’d rather not smell composting worm pee when zenning out like this.


3. It had to be functional

Easy to access, small and easy to use.


So I’m so stoked to share with you my latest project:

The Portable Balcony Worm Farm


It’s made entirely from reused materials. It will serve 3 main purposes:


1.  To reduce my food waste in the kitchen

2. To reuse the organic nutrients by watering my pot plants with the  ‘worm juice’

3. To recycle my food scraps and the materials used to make the system


Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. This is my new mantra for life. A big part of this new outlook for me is to look towards the ordinary and everyday for inspiration. So when I saw this $2 Esky (“Cooler” for those non-Australian folk out there) up for grabs at a flea market, I couldn’t say no. An image of a thriving worm farm popped into my mind. I just had to have it.

With drill in hand and some old shoe laces, here’s what you need to do.


What you need:

  • Esky, Cooler or bucket with lid
  • A drill
  • A few old shoelaces or a small piece of rope
  • A small container (I used an icecream container)


Step 1: Drill a hole in the bottom of the esky just big enough to pull through a few shoe laces or a piece of rope or any other material of that sort. Keep it tight. The idea here is for the ‘thread’ to act as an absorbing agent. It will draw the worm juice out of the worm farm for you to collect and reuse.

DIY Worm Farm - Balcony Friendly - The Urban Ecolife

Knot the thread from the inside

DIY Balcony Friendly Worm Farm - The Urban Ecolife

Thread the rope through the hole

Step 2: Thread the rope through and tie a knot from the inside to hold it in place.

Step 3: Worms don’t need a lot of oxygen but they do need to breath so just a couple small holes in the lid will suffice, or alternatively, leaving the lid slightly ajar.

Step 4: That’s really it! Provide the worms with a bed of good-quality soil, leaves and shredded paper and then add them to the mixture.


Over time, the thread will start to absorb the worm castings for you to collect in the container underneath. So you’ll just need to have the worm farm sitting on a seat or a milk crate for it to drain.


A few notes on maintaining your worm farm:

  • Keep it in a cool dark place. The worm farm will actually ‘bake’ if you leave it in direct hot sunlight all day, especially if you experience hot summers like we do here in Queensland. Keep covered with some hemp bags or carpet if this is the case. I have a styrofoam esky to place on top of mine.
  • Keep the environment moist for the worms. Every now and then, pour some water through to drain some worm juice out which will drop down the thread and you can use to water your plants (you may need to dillute it first before watering your plants).
  • Chop your food scraps up to help the worms out. They’ll thank you for it and return the favour bycomposting your organic matter quicker!
  • Avoid composting onion, garlic and citrus skins. Whilst it mighten make that big of a difference in a large scale composting bin, I feel better for my worms if I’m not creating a too acidic environment for them in such a small space.
  • Add some shredded paper to mix every now and then. Don’t over do it as you don’t want to unbalance the carbon-nitrogen mix, but it’s a good way to make use of those bills and credit card statements!
  • Your worms will breed. So if it gets to a point where you think they’ve overpopulated your small bucket, spread the love with some friends and pass on some worms 🙂


Do you have a worm farm? What tips and tricks have your learned along the way? I’d love to hear and learn!


PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support!

Posted on by Emily Uebergang Posted in Home & Garden

About Emily Uebergang

Urban hippie by day, wandering gypsy by night. Emily is all about sustainable living and writes like she's out to try and save the world or something. Follow on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Google+

12 Responses to How to make your own Worm Farm (Hint: It’s cheap, portable and balcony friendly!)

  1. Deborah Davis

    I am an urbannaturalista too so I love your blog and I am so happy to read your posts. This post has inspired me to get started on my home composting project. We compost locally at our farmer’s market! Time to get dirty! Smile.

  2. Emily Uebergang

    Lovely to meet you Deborah!! Nice to see a fellow blogger with very similar tastes pop up! We’re a rare (but growing!) bunch I think. Will be keen to network with you 🙂

  3. Carrie

    This is a cool idea. If it is going to have a lid on it, it will need air holes though, they need air or they will suffocate.

  4. Emily Uebergang

    Hi Carrie!
    Thanks for mentioning this! It’s something I will have to update the post with as I actually experimented with drilling a few holes through the lid and never did include that point. Cheers 🙂

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  9. Len Thomas

    I made my worm farm from 3 5kg buckets, the 1st bucket had 20 holes in the bottom, the next had 6 holes to drain into the bottom bucket and the lid has 4 holes. The worm pee collects in the bottom bucket and the top one is where the new food is placed. No smell and no leaking. Works well and if I want to move so I just pick it up.

  10. Emily Uebergang

    This is fantastic! Thanks for sharing. I love hearing other people DIY and getting creative with this kind of stuff 🙂

  11. Tom H

    Hi Emily, I know this is an old article but I love this simple solution for a small worm farm — all of the store-bought options seem to be really huge, to big for an average sized balcony. My only question though is did you ever have any issues with flies or maggots being attracted to the wet drainage string? In my old flat my partner and I experimented with a DIY worm farm and discovered that draining the liquid is really important as it gets maggots crawling in it otherwise. Eventually we decided on using a big rectangular self-watering pot plant with the single drainage hole covered in flyscreen material which I upended to tip out the liquid every now and again. It wasn’t the ideal solution though as it was heavy and bulky and difficult to seperate the casings from the worms from the worm-food/kitchen-scraps.

  12. Emily Uebergang

    Hey Tom. I didn’t have any problems like you mentioned, although I only used this worm farm set up for a couple months before I upgraded when I moved. Sorry I couldn’t be more of a help! Good luck with it all.

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