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What Can I feed my Worms?

A frequently asked question if not the most asked question I get is, “What can I feed my worms?!” So I have decided to come up with a basic list of what you can feed your worms. I will also include a list of things to keep out of the worm bin.

Things to feed your worms include:

  • Fruits
  • VegetablesFood-Waste
  • Paper
  • Squash and Pumpkin
  • Eggshells
  • Coffee
  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Tea Bags
  • Grains
  • Hair
  • Lawn Clippings (aged, fresh clippings may heat up and kill the worms)toxic_food1
  • Animal Manure (not dog or cat)

Here is a very basic list of what to not put in the worm bin:

  • Salty Foods
  • Citrus
  • Spicy Foods
  • Oils
  • Foods with preservatives
  • meat
  • dairy

There are a few other things to keep in mind when feeding your worms.

  1. The smaller the matter the easier and faster for the worms to compost.  Chopping large chunks of food to feed worms is recommended but not necessary. You can puree, freeze, or microwave food scraps before adding them to your worm composter to help break down material. Make sure that food has returned to room temperature before adding it to your worm bin.
  2. Try to keep a balance of browns and greens. Browns and greens are nicknames for different types of organic matter to use in composting. Browns are high in carbon or carbohydrates, thus they are organic carbon sources. These foods supply the energy that most soil organisms need to survive. Carbons also help absorb the offensive odors and capture and help prevent most of the organic nitrogen in the piles from escaping by evaporation or leaching. Carbons are also essential in the faster formation of humus from the organic matter in a composting process. Greens are high in nitrogen or protein, thus organic nitrogen sources. These products help the composting microherd to grow, breed, and multiply fast in the piles, thus creating extreme internal temperatures in hot compost piles. A simple test to determine if your organic matter is a “green” or a “brown”, is to wet it, and wait a few days. If it stinks, it is definitely a green. If not, it’s a brown.
  3. The amount and frequency of food you will want to feed your worms is also a factor you need to consider. This will depend on the amount of worms you have in your worm bin. Keep in mind a worm will eat its own body weight in waste a day. So, if you have 1 pound of worms in your bin or composter you can technically feed them up to 1 pound of waste a day. To be on the safe side, hohappy wormswever, I would stick to feeding every other or every 3 days. You do not want to overwhelm the bin. This will lead to attracting unwanted pests and odors.

Overall, worms will benefit from a balanced diet. Maintain the proper moisture, PH level and diet and your worms will be good to go! Happy vermicomposting!

63 comments on “What Can I feed my Worms?


    I figured I’d grate the food scraps to help the worm eat the scraps. I generate more food scraps than my worm bin can handle. Is it advisable to use old left over grated food scraps or should I always use freshly grated food scraps? Do you even advise grating the food scraps?

  • I was just wondering is it ok to put dead flowers in the worm bin. I got my wife some roses and carnations with green ferns and was wondering if it is ok to put them in the bin. I have read that you can put leaves and small amount of grass clipping but I am not finding anything on flowers

    • The moisture level of the bedding in your worm bin should be comparable to a wrung-out sponge, that when squeezed emits a drop or two of water. If it is not moist, you may need to add water from time to time to sustain the correct moisture level.

    • James Shaw says:

      Hi Gwen,

      I would not recommend adding these for the reason that you mentioned. These are far too salty for the worms to eat and thrive in. Have a great day!

  • love info on this web site. i rase alot of red worms in michigan. have axess to water melon all year round. where can you buy fumeagated worm feed?

  • I am starting my first full vermiculture bin and and very appreciative of all of the wonderful information that you have provided on your site, thank you

  • Hey there,
    Is it true that worms do not like potato peels, this seems strange to me somehow. Also will they be ok with food scraps that are high in sugar, like my desert leftovers, pastry etc?

  • Thomas Yendell says:

    Well got Rabbit and I started dumping the straw and pellets in the scrub in the yard. I realized that worms are everywhere in it. I’m in the forest of west Virginia..I’m not sure what kind the worms are but they are nice size and fast .Tom

    • Thomas Yendell says:

      Should I leave it just on the ground? It will be snowed on this winter? What do they do in the winter? I don’t ice fish and won’t need them till the spring

  • Hello Team Uncle Jim,

    Kind of a newbie and would like to know if I can feed my night crawlers dry cat food?


  • Adrian Alexander Lester says:

    How would my teacher be able to get loads of soil in 1 day for 502 worms ad feed them as well I mean do the students feed them or what ?

  • Moshe Haven says:

    I’m new to this and I think I’m killing my worms off. I got a Worm Farm 360 and started with 1000 red jumpers and about 500 crawlers. I’ve been pureeing the out dated carrots and some greens together with coffee grounds and some egg shells. I’ve worked in a lot of shredded newsprint but the material feels too solid. I added newsprint, a lot, to dry it out and it’s not so wet but I suspect it’s too compact. While I used to see a lot of wriggling near the surface when I occasionally checked it’s now gone down to little action. I thought that pureeing the scraps would make it easier for the worms to eat. I just ordered about 500 African night crawlers to add when they get here in a week. Any suggestions before I kill these off as well?

  • I smoke alot weed sorry please don’t judge I started a worm bin and was wondering if the gutted tabacco from my cigars be food for my worms I know people use coffee grinds and cardboard can i use tabacco

  • I want to test what worms will eat with students. I want to put in some fruit scraps (which it sounds like they will eat) and some jelly beans (which I am hoping they will not eat). Would putting in a jelly bean or two be harmful?

  • Can I feed my worms toilet paper? I think toilet paper is bleached with chemicals and might be harmful to the red wigglers, no?

  • Yes – mold is good! Worms do not have teeth, so the mold helps to break down the food, making it easier for the worms to eat.

  • john grierson says:

    I would be cautious about using flowers in the bin. In Australia, there are no limits on pesticides on commercial flowers. These would not be a good food for worms in a bin.



  • Jane Doyle says:

    I see many good questions. Some are ones that I have a well. It would be very helpful if someone from the company would answer them. Just a line or two would often be enough.

  • Ramona Walker says:

    I have tons of English walnuts I have been hulling. Would it be ok to feed the hulls to the worms? I am concerned about tannins and the Ph level.

    • Hello Romona;

      We do not recommend that you add black walnuts to the vermicompost bin. They create/contain Juglone which is harmful to worms, plants and other insects.

      Uncle Jim’s

  • Jackie W. Cox says:

    Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm is a great way to order your worms n get feedback on what to do. They have a phone number and are eager to help with any questions. I recently orderd 1,000 redwiglers n they came in day 3 of shipping. They were so lively that some would try their best to crawl out of my stirophom cooler for 3 days. I just kept flicking them back in n waiting the first day for about 6 hours. They just kept trying even though I had a light shinning directly on them. Thanks Everyone at Uncle Jim’s. Very appreciated. They are the most active at night it seems also after feeding.

  • Daryl Wright says:

    I just received my order of worms from Uncle Jim’s worm farm yesterday 12/4/19.
    I ordered them 11/30/19. They were shipped 12/2/19. Alive and well!
    They are a lively bunch.
    Thank you Uncle Jim’s worm farm.

  • Where can I find best instructions on harvesting worm castings? How to harvest, when to use them, how long will the castings keep before using? what about worm casting “tea” vs solid? My bins are happy and thriving! I am getting ready to use their castings in my garden! Houseplants have seen the benefit already!

  • cynthia granger says:

    My red worms.are over a year old and they are about 1/2 inch and will not get any bigger. What do I need to do. They get all my vegable scraps.

  • LMAO… the way, worms do not break anything down, they process the broken down material and give u worm castings.
    Not only do you need an understanding of “what do worms eat?”. You should try and optimize worm farm food for their consumption. Worms do not have any teeth. This means they need to wait until the food begins to rot or break down so that it is soft and wet enough for them to eat.”

  • Frank Knipfer says:

    How long do earth worms and night crawlers live and what type container is best so they don’t crawl out ? Does a cover on a plastic 5 gal pail permissible

  • Frank knipfer says:

    Is there a formula for how much bedding should be in ratio to the amount of worms so they aren’t to crowded or that they are sent over fed

  • Mark Jenkins says:

    I have a 1Year old worm farm that has 3 layers, but I have never washed them By Watering them from the Top with a can or hose. Is this necessary?. I don’t want to drown the minuscule baby worms and feel that watering may wash out any nutrients that have built up in the soil.


    Thank you so much Hana of Uncle Jims Worm Farm for responding to email and for sending me the link on what and what not to feed the worms. In the article, it says SEAWEED is okay to feed and at the same it says NOT TO FEED SALTY FOOD. Seaweed is of course Salty. So do I have to soak the Seaweed first with tap water to remove at least some of the salt before feeding to the worms? Thank you in advance.

  • Marilyn Susan Morgan says:

    We want to start a worm bin for fishing. I dont see anyone saying they use dirt. Could you mix dirt with coffee grounds, cornmeal and news paper to start off? I am not interesting in using a compost

  • Ricardo L Ju says:

    Ok, I’ve had my worm farm ( European night crawlers ) almost a year now. They are in earth and peat moss. What should I be doing to the farm, at this point? Do I thin it out? Change the soil?

  • Wow, sad to see so many unanswered questions here. A search of my own questions seem to uncover 10,000 different answers! Since I have a HotFrog indoor composter from Uncle Jim’s and 99.9% of information on the web is pertaining to different types of worm composter’s, the information (answers), become even more polluted! Example, when it it time to fill the second tray with coconut coir, even though the bottom bin looks basically the same 3 month later?!

  • I’m new at this, just about 4 months. I have 2 Uncle Jim’s bins. I uses a cheap $20 blender to make food easy to eat. You need to read the Uncle Jim’s advise on feeding for the amount of worms and then look at the reproduction rate to increase the amount of food to feed and how often. This is not rocket Science, just follow Uncle Jim’s rules, they sold you the worms and take the time to do some reading and you will become an expert. Get a moisture meter to test the moisture levels in your bin and then you’ll know it’s time to add dry paper or wet. Also if you are in a colder climate or hotter climate get a thermometer and make sure your bin is between 40 and 80° as often as possible. Everything I’m telling you is online from other sources so none of this is my material it’s other people that have done this before and they’re sharing their expertise with us, I am far from an expert I’m just doing what the experts say to do.

  • hi I’m new to making a wormery would Dendrobaena Worms live off crushed egg shells, fresh nettles and dead leaf’s and the odd tea bag.
    how often would i have to change the bin I’m just interested in worms as a fisherman or would they just live in the the same bin till i split them into another bin.

  • Mitchell Eubanks says:

    Very helpful information. I have had pretty good success so far . Think I need to get larger freezer to give my worms more room.

    • Yes, you can feed them any organic food source. I do not recommend that you add too much at once. feed them this in moderation so that it does not build up in the bin. Much like “worm smoothies” that people make by blending their food scraps.

  • My worms seem to be staging a major escape effort. I find a large number of them climbing up the sides of the plastic container.

    Also, is there such a thing as a population explosion, where the number of worms increases dramatically?

    • Hello JMB;

      Often times, when the worms are ALL at the top and trying to escape, there is something in the bin that they do not like. If all of your worms are doing this, check the food, temperature, and moisture level. The pH could also be up if you added something acidic. otherwise, if only some worms are gathering at the top and sides, they do this. They love the condensation and will just stay there in small pools of water. Feel free to contact our customer Service team with any specific questions.

  • Sally Rissinger says:

    I started vermicomposting in 2014 for my Master Gardener presentation. I have recently been asked to share my worms and cafe’ at an upcoming Earth Day event, MG plant sale, and some programs in elementary schools.
    I have attempted to print off some of your information such as what to feed, what not to feed; bedding, etc.l
    Would you be willing to share some materials that I could use to interest people, especially kids, in vermicomposting?
    Thank you,
    Sally Rissinger


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