Discover what to feed your Composting Worms
Learn what vermicomposting worms eat and what they don't
Worm composting (Vermicomposting) is a form of composting in which you feed your veggie food scraps to a specific type of earthworm, red wigglers. Worm composting allows you to responsibly dispose of your kitchen scraps while at the same time creating a high nutrient compost that you can use on your indoor or outdoor plants. What do red wiggler worms eat? This article will give you an overview of feeding your composting worms.
For more info on getting started with worm composting check out these articles:
What Do Red Wiggler Worms Eat? What Do You Feed Composting Worms?
One of the major reasons to worm compost at home is to responsibly dispose of your food scrap waste (instead of sending it to a land fill). So, what do worms eat? Worms eat tiny, invisible, bacteria that grow and feed on the food scraps that you add to your bin. The worms also eat the food scraps. You can feed your composting worms (and the bacteria) any vegetable scraps including egg shells and coffee grounds (if you use a paper coffee filter, throw that in too!). Remember, worms are vegetarian. Meat, bones, oil, cheese, and dairy should not be fed to worms. Keep them out of your worm bin to avoid pests and odors.
What do Red Wiggler Worms like to Eat?
A list of food for worms that I have found they especially like:
- Melon rinds. cantaloupe, honey dew, watermelon, etc
- Non-citrus fruit. berries, apples, pears, etc. They love sweet foods
- Squashes. The soft flesh is easy for them to eat
Red Wiggler Worms will still eat these foods but in large quantities they could harm your composting worms.
- Citrus Fruits: oranges, limes, lemons, etc (large quantities of citrus can burn the worm’s skin)
- Onions and garlic. These can also burn their skin in large quantities.
- Bread in small quantities is ok.
What NOT to feed your Worms
- Cooked food. Cooked food often has increased seasonings, especially salt, which can harm your worms. To responsibly dispose of your cooked food scraps, get some backyard laying hens!
Things you can add to your worm bin that you might not think of.
- Dryer lint
- Egg Shells, although they take a long time to break down.
- Paper Towels, as long as you have only used them to clean drink spills, etc. Do not put paper towels that you have cleaned with and have chemicals on them in your worm bin.
- Pet Hair, you will want to be careful with this one. In small quantities I have found that it works well.
- Tea bags and coffee filters. Go ahead and throw them in as well!
Worms can eat roughly half their weight everyday. You can use this to calculate how much you should be feeding your worms. When you start your worm bin you will usually start with ½ pound or 1 pound of worms. So, they will be able to eat roughly ¼ or ½ a pound of food scraps per day assuming ideal conditions. If you want your worms to eat faster, chop the food scraps into small pieces ahead of time. The increased surface area will make it easier for the worms (and the bacteria) to eat.
Worms do not have teeth. They have very small gizzards
like chickens do that they use to grind up their food. Because they don't have teeth, they can not bite off chunks of the food scraps. Therefore, they need to wait until the food scraps begin to rot and get soft and mushy.
Here are some tips on the frequency of feeding your red wigglers.
- You want to wait until your worms have finished their food before you feed them again. This is easily done by simply checking the worm bin.
- If you keep your worm bin indoors you will want to manage it a bit more carefully to ensure that you never get fruit flies or foul odors. An indoor bin should be checked weekly and usually fed weekly.
- If you keep your worm bin outdoors you can feed them a little more at each feeding and go a little longer between feedings. Feeding your composting worms outdoors once every 2 or 3 weeks would be fine.
- Be careful not to over feed your worms. If you add too much food for your worms too quickly, they will not be able to eat it before it rots. Rotting food can attract fruit flies and cause a bad odor. Another way to avoid fruit flies and odor is to be sure to always bury your food scraps under the bedding.
- You do not need a worm sitter. If you go out of town (even for up to a month) your worms will be fine. Be sure to feed them before you leave and if they are outdoors you can feed them a little more than usual. Remember, worms will eat their bedding as well.
Enjoy composting with your red wiggler composting worms!
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