Today I’m thrilled to have my blogging buddy Holly from Your Gardening Friend guest posting today! She has been doing a fabulous compost worms series on her blog, and I am excited to have the 4th installment here on The Prairie Homestead.
It’s time for another compost worm post. If you missed the previous posts, you can catch up on the series with the below links.
WHAT to Feed Compost Worms
Compost worms’ diet is similar to a vegan diet. Basically, stick to things that grow out of the ground. It’s the best comparison I can think of, but there are a few important exceptions to the worms’ diet:
- No processed food (there may be a few acceptable ones, but, in general, no processed food);
- No onions (I’ve read conflicting info on this one), but green onions are okay;
- No oils (olive oil, sesame oil, butter [but vegans don’t eat that anyway], etc.);
- Citrus and other highly acidic food in only small quantities; and
- All the food should, ideally, be spoiled.
Those are the biggies.
There are also some “extras” that compost worms eat, but vegans don’t eat:
- Coffee grounds,
- Worm castings (worm pooh), and
After the paper is broken down considerably, through moisture and LOTS of time, it becomes edible to worms.
HOW to Feed Compost Worms
Break the food into small pieces. Think of feeding compost worms like preparing food for a 9-month old baby. While you can put large pieces of food into the worm bin, it’s best to give them small pieces. Breaking, cutting, or tearing the food into smaller pieces provides more surface area for bacteria to break down the food. (Worms LOVE bacteria.)
I usually put the food into a plastic bag, and smoosh the food while it’s in the bag. Or, if I have something like a cucumber that has started to spoil, I slice the cucumber along the length, and, with a knife, I chop away at the “meat,” to loosen it up.
Bury the food under their bedding. This is very important. Compost worms don’t spend a lot of time on top of their bedding, although they do peak out often. However, the most important reason to bury the food is to keep the bin (and the house) free of odors. A smelly bin will also attract bugs. When the food is buried, a worm bin is odor-free. Their pooh, also, has no odor (regardless of whether or not it’s buried).
To bury the food, I like to use a cheap latex/non-latex-like glove (only needed on one hand) to keep the “soil,” pooh, and food from getting on my hands and under my fingernails. I reuse the same glove NUMEROUS times.
WHEN to Feed Compost Worms
How often do you think compost worms need to be fed? Are you thinking twice a day … once a day? How about once or twice a week!
I’ve read compost worms have a voracious appetite, I even mentioned that in 14 Reasons to Have Compost Worms, but I’ve not seen it first-hand. I’m finding that to be a good thing, though. Supposedly, the rule of thumb is that compost worms will eat half their weight in food every day. Meaning, if you have a pound of worms, they will eat up to half a pound of food every day, or 3.5 pounds every week. Fortunately, my worms are a little more concerned about their figure.
I recommend starting with a small amount of food, in proportion to the worms you have. Check the food stash in their bedding after a few days. It’s actually better to give a little less than too much. Don’t worry about starving them – within reason, of course. From my earlier research, I learned that putting too much food in the worm bin is one of the major causes of compost worms’ early demise. Remember, they’ll eat their bedding, the composted “soil,” coffee grounds, and their pooh.
Here are a couple tips for managing your food waste:
- Don’t have enough food waste? Ask a local restaurant or school/work cafeteria if they’ll set aside the fruits, veggies, and bread they typically throw out. I did that once when I thought I would not have enough food. Don’t forget about Starbucks. They give away bags of used coffee grounds for garden use.
- Have too much food waste? Toss it in a freezer bag, and freeze it until you need more. That’s what I do with some of ours.
Well, that pretty much sums up what you need to know about feeding compost worms.
Does any of this info surprise you? Or, do you also have an established compost worm farm?
Holly is a wife to her loving husband, John, and a “mother” of three canine “kids”. She loves sharing her faith; spending as much time as possible gardening and landscaping; sharing recipes you can make from your garden; and enjoying all the garden critters and wildlife at her country home, nestled in the woods. She blogs at Your Gardening Friend.