What to feed your Red Wiggler Worms

Wiggler feed

What to feed your Red Wiggler Worms

Vermicomposting or worm composting is a type of composting in which you feed your vegetable scraps to a certain earthworm species, namely red wigglers. What do red wiggler wormseat? Here we will give you an overview of the regime necessary ro feed your worms.

What is a Red Wiggler Worms Diet?

What Should You Feed Composting Worms on? A primary reason to worm compost at home is to responsibly dispose of your food waste instead of placing in your garbage and subsequently to landfill. So, what do red wigglers eat? Worms eat miniscule, invisible, bacteria that graze on the food you add to your vermicomposting box. The wigglers likewise snack the nutrient scraps and bin bedding. You can therefore give your composting wigglers any vegetable menu scraps even coffee grounds and egg shells.

What do Worms prefer eating?

Reed wigglers favor some vegetable scraps over others:
They cherish sweetened foods such as melon rinds. cantaloupe, honey dew, watermelon, etc.
Non-citrus fruit. berries, apples, pears, etc.
Squashes. The soft flesh is simple for them to devour.

Foods that wigglers do not appreciate so much.
Composting Worms will still gobble these menus but in large amounts they could cause harm to your worms. I have often placed small quantities of such foods in my composting bin without having experienced a problem.
Citrus: oranges, limes, lemons, etc. Significant amounts of citrus can burn a worm’s sensitive surface.
Onions and garlic. These too can burn their skin if given in large quantities.
Bread: Bread doesn’t do any harm to your composting wigglers but it can be difficult to compost because it molds swiftly bringing in an extra element to the composting bin.

Composting worms are vegetarian so please remember what you must NOT give to your worms.

Meat, Dairy, Oil.

Cooked meat often has salts and other seasonings, which can injure your worms. Get some backyard chickens and you can responsibly dispose of your cooked menu scraps and get some enormous eggs as well.

Other foods for Red Wigglers – Items you can add to your composting bin that might well not have occured to you.

Dryer lint- Mostly comprises fibers from your clothes
Egg Shells- although breaking down takes a very long time.
Paper Towels- provided you have only utilized them to cleanse beverage accidents, etc. Do not pace towels that have substances on them in your bin.
Pet Hair – you should be careful with this one. In small quantities it works well but in big amounts hair can easily clump together causing it to be harder for the worms to break it down.
Coffee filters and teabags – carry on and put them in as well, they are only made of paper!

Feeding procedure for your worms
Worms can eat approximately fifty percent of their bodyweight daily. You can utilize this equation to work out how much you should be giving your wigglers. When you commission your bin you will usually stock with one pound of worms. So, they will be able to eat approximately half a pound of scraps daily subject tohaving ideal bin conditions present. If you would like your wigglers to ingest more quickly, chop the menu scraps into small portions before needed and pop them into the freezer overnight. Chopping, and/or blending will add to the surface area of each segment of food ensuring that it becomes easier for the red wigglers and the bacteria to feed. Freezing and then thawing breaks down the cell walls of the food item which ensures that it is more mushy when thawed and simpler to consume.

Earthworms have no teeth. Like chickens they have very small gizzards that are used to grind food. Without teeth, they can not bite off lumps of the scraps. Hence, they have to wait until the food scraps start to go rotten and get soft and mushy. Therefore freezing and then thawing your nutrients is a great help.

Here here is some advice on how often to feed your worms.

Wait until your red wigglers have finished their feed before you give them any more. This is simply done by just checking the composting bin. If you overfeed you can bring in unwanted problems.
If you maintain your worm composting indoors you will need to manage it somewhat more carefully to ensure that you avoid fruit flies or foul-smelling odors. An indoor composter should have weekly checks and be fed weekly usually.
If you keep your setup outdoors it is OK to feed them a bit more at each feeding and have a little longer time between feedings. A feeding schedule for your outdoor composting red wigglers should be about once everytwo or three weeks.
Make sure not to overfeed your wigglers. If you put in too much for your wigglers they won’t be able to consume it before it goes rotten. Decomposing food can entice fruit flies and cause bad odors. Another way to deter flies and prevent odor is to be sure to always bury your food scraps under the bedding.
You do not need a baby-sitter for your setup. Even if you went out of town for a month your wigglers would be fine. Ensure you feed them before you go and if they are outdoors you can feed them a little more than customary. Remember, the worms will munch their bedding too!

Worm Castings / Vermicompost

Vermicompost or worm castings

Worm Castings / Vermicompost

Most people who keep red wiggler compost worms do so for the nutrient-rich worm castings or vermicompost (worm poop) that is the end result of worm composting. We recently harvested one of our smaller worm bins, and took photos of the worm castings before using them in our garden.

Vermicompost is extremely fine-grained and almost silky feeling in your hands. This is because worm compost is made up of individual worm castings (pieces of worm poop), each of which is a bit bigger than a grain of sand. It’s amazing to look at a bucket full of red wiggler worm castings and realize that nearly every single piece has passed through a worm at least once! You certainly don’t recognize the original food scraps — with the occasional exception of pieces of eggshell, hard seeds, etc. that the red wiggler worms can’t digest.

Many gardeners consider worm castings to be the “black gold” of compost because of this fine texture, and also the fact that vermicompost may have more nutrients than traditional or “hot” compost. A definite advantage is that each casting is surrounded by a thin mucous layer, which essentially makes them like tiny time-release nutrient capsules!

The worm castings pictured have been “cured” using the process described in the excellent book
Recycle With Earthworms: The Red Wiggler Connection (by Shelley Grossman and Toby Weitzel). “Curing” vermicompost means letting it sit in a bucket for a couple of weeks after harvest, allowing any worms you missed while harvesting or newly-emerged babies to finish off any food which remains. The result is lighter, fluffier, and more completely broken down than “raw” worm castings. You definitely don’t need to cure your compost, but it’s a nice extra step if you have the time. People who saw our vermicompost at a Farmers Market last summer were amazed by the texture (we were, too!)

How to use your newly-created vermicompost? Worm castings are excellent as an extra nutrient boost added to gardens, for indoor plants, or anywhere else you’re growing. We used several gallons of worm castings as part of our seed starting mix this spring. We often see melon, cucumber, and even peach pits sprouting in our worm bins. I’ve heard (and believe) that worm castings may contain beneficial microbes which help prevent fungus from killing off newly-emerged seedlings.

Another use of worm castings to make “compost tea” or “worm tea”, a liquid mixture of worm castings and water that can be poured on your plants as fertilizer. Whether you choose to use it dry or as worm tea, your plants will thank you!

Happy worm farming (and vermicompost making)!

Compost Worm Escape!

Red Wigglers

Compost Worm Escape!

Even though I knew better, we had a compost worm escape this weekend. Red wiggler compost worms generally stay in the bedding as long as things are going well. You don’t even need a lid on the bin. But… when compost worms are first put into new bedding — and especially if it’s nice and humid (like after a rain) — they’ll sometimes go on the prowl in a serious way. Here some are making their way out of the bin:

I visited my outdoor bins to find the redworms wandering every which way. I even caught a couple about 2 feet up a tree! They were on their way down by the time I snapped a photo, but still… Worms in trees?

Like I said, compost worms generally only wander off when they’re first placed in new bedding, or if conditions in the bin get bad (overfeeding, etc.) A partial solution to make them stay put while they’re first adjusting is to keep a light over the bins. Like most worms, Eisenia fetida avoid light when they can. I rigged up a makeshift dusk-to-dawn light over the bin, and the problem was mostly solved.

So… serious lesson (re-)learned here. When you first set up a bin, it’s a very good idea to keep a light over it for a few days. Once the compost worms have settled into to their work of vermicomposting, they generally stay put. But if the bedding is new and the night is moist, they might go for a wander…

Incidentally, here is a good place to look for bins