Worm farming may sound easy, but branding all those little slimy critters can be hard work! Okay, okay—so it’s not exactly farming. In fact, worm farming is just composting, vermicomposting to be specific.

In nature, the ongoing recycling process breaks down any once-living material into the nutrients plants use. If you leave your leaves and grass clippings alone, they can take years to compost. Feeding organic matter to earthworms, a classification of worms whose bodies are segmented, can speed up the process, creating compost in as little as three months. The millions of microbes living inside worms make short work of converting your kitchen waste, paper products and other organic matter into nutrient-rich compost.

RELATED: Beginners Guide To Worm Farming For Better Soil

The technical term for using worms to process compost and create castings is vermicomposting, and the finished product is called vermicompost or vermicast. These castings (or worm poop) can be harvested for use as an organic option to chemical fertilizers. Vermicompost will significantly increase the growth of your plants and flowers while making their immune systems stronger.

Building your own worm-composting bin is not difficult, but be sure the construction addresses your worms’ needs. Here are 10 tips for starting a worm farm:

1. It’s up to you to provide the right environment for your worms’ survival since they are not in their natural environment.

2. Be sure your worm farm has good drainage and ventilation.

3. Always provide shelter for your wiggly composters.

4. Never expose worms to direct sun, rain or freezing temperatures.

5. Provide the best possible bedding in the form of coconut coir, peat moss or fine mulch.

6. Give them their space! Do not disturb the bedding too much.

7. Provide adequate moisture, enough to keep the worms damp.

8. Feed them right. For their first food, give worms melon rinds (facing down) with a handful of sand and one of crushed eggshell.

9. Then feed them a diet of half kitchen scraps and half fiber (paper or crushed leaves).

10. Do not overfeed your worms. Wait until their food is almost gone before feeding them again.

RELATED: Compost Tea Recipe: The Secret Behind A Successful Vegetable Garden

This article originally published in THE NEW PIONEER® Winter 2015 issue. Print and Digital Subscriptions to THE NEW PIONEER magazine are available here.