Alright, folks, let’s tackle the million-dollar question I hear all the time: “What can I feed my worms?” This is one of the most common questions I get from new vermicomposting enthusiasts, so I have decided to come up with a basic list of what you can feed your worms to help you out.
The truth is, worms aren’t the fussiest diners around. Like nature’s little vacuum cleaners, they’ll gladly munch on everything from coffee grounds and tea leaves to egg cartons and egg shells. But that doesn’t mean they should.
Let’s chat about their gourmet preferences. Here’s a simple rundown of what your beloved compost worms can chow down on, plus a “blacklist” of things that should never find their way into your worm bin. Let’s feed those little composting heroes right!
The Importance of Feeding Your Worms the Right Types of Food
Your trusty compost worms are like little recycling champs, turning kitchen scraps and organic waste into black gold – nutrient-rich soil! But here’s the catch: these critters aren’t fans of just any old food waste. You see, for your compost worms to work their magic, you need to be their culinary curator. Think of their diet as a carefully crafted menu of nutritious food. Sure, they’ll gobble up those fruit scraps and veggie scraps like champs.
But toss in the wrong stuff – like meat, dairy, or greasy fast-food wrappers – and it’s a recipe for disaster. These little heroes thrive on food sources like your kitchen’s organic waste. Why is it so vital to get this right? When you feed your worms the right types of food, they break it down into nutrient-packed castings that even reduce carbon footprint, aka worm poop. Worm castings are a goldmine of soil fertility, teeming with beneficial microorganisms and plant-friendly nutrients.
It’s like Mother Nature’s own superfood for your garden! But feeding your compost worms the wrong stuff can turn your bin into a stinky, slimy mess filled with fruit flies and pests that are no good for anyone. It can harm and even kill your worms.
A Recipe for Disaster: The Dangers of Feeding Worms Wrong Food
Now, let’s talk about what happens when you toss the wrong food for worms into their buffet. Food items like meat, dairy products, fatty foods, or anything overly oily or salty can spell trouble. They can harm or even kill your compost worms by sending the pH levels of your compost bin on a rollercoaster ride toward acidic chaos – a stinky, slimy mess.
So, remember, your worms have taste buds, too, albeit metaphorical ones, and they appreciate a well-balanced, worm-friendly menu to thrive.
Wiggle-Approved Food for Worms: What You CAN Feed Your Worms
Before we dive into your squirmers’ favorite foods, always remember that the right choice of worm food is like creating a safe, gourmet experience for your little soil engineers that can even speed up the decomposition process. It’s a win-win!
So, let’s unlock the secret menu of delicious options that’ll keep your worms happy and your worm farm thriving. If you’re wondering: “What Can I Feed My Worms?” their feeding routine should include a balanced diet of organic waste, such as:
- Fruits (worms love banana peels!)
- Vegetables and veggie waste
- Shredded paper or shredded cardboard (keeps your grocery paper bags from going to waste!)
- Squash and pumpkin
- Pasta (without the sauce!)
- Tea bags and coffee filters
- Aged lawn clippings and dry leaves (fresh clippings may heat up and kill the worms!)
- Animal manure (not dog or cat food or feces!)
What Fruits and Vegetables Can Worms Eat?
Worms will happily munch on a variety of fruits and vegetables. To name a few, the best food for worms includes:
- Vegetable scraps such as lettuce, carrot tops, broccoli stalks, cucumber peels, and the like
- Spinach, kale, and other leafy greens
- Pumpkin, squash, and zucchini
- Raw and cooked potato scraps
- Banana, mango, honeydew, watermelon, avocado, apple core or skin.
Foods to Stay Away from: What NOT to Feed Your Worms
So, what food for worms should you stay away from? Here is a very basic list of what not to put in the worm bin, that is, what not to feed your worms:
- Salty foods
- Acidic fruit / Citrus fruit and citrus peels
- Spicy foods
- Oils and oily food high in fat (it’s not about your worm’s body weight insecurities!)
- Foods with preservatives
- Onions and garlic
- Dairy foods
- Non-foods, i.e., plastic, sawdust, windowed envelopes, and other rubbish.
Now, let’s chat about a few more things your worms aren’t too keen on that you should keep an eye out for.
- Glossy, coated paper: While it might seem harmless, this stuff is a big no-no in your worm bin. That glossy sheen often comes from chemicals and inks that can be toxic for your composting buddies. So, stick to plain, uncoated paper and cardboard to keep their compost bin healthy, safe, and cozy.
- Spicy and salty leftovers: Worms aren’t fans of spicy foods like hot peppers and heavily seasoned dishes – these can be too intense for their delicate digestive systems. Opt for milder fare to keep your worms healthy and your composting on track
- Greasy content: Oily and fatty foods are a no-go for our wormy friends, and it’s not about their body weight insecurities. Oils and fats can coat the surfaces of a worm bin, making it hard for your worms to breathe through their skin. It’s like trying to breathe through a sticky, oily mess – not fun, right? So, skip the greasy stuff to keep your worms breathing easy and composting happily.
Uncle Jim’s Bonus Worm Feeding Tips
Hold your compost buckets – we’re not done here yet! Choosing the right food for worms is only half the battle. There are a few other things to keep in mind when feeding your worms.
Here are some key tidbits of wisdom I’ve gathered over four decades of working with my wiggly pals.
Chopping large chunks of food to feed worms is recommended but not necessary. However, the smaller the matter, the easier and faster for the worms to compost! You can toss that batch of food leftovers into a food processor, puree it, or give it a quick chill or warm-up in the microwave before adding them to your worm composter to help break down the material.
Feeding Worms Is A Balancing Act
This little nugget of wisdom above has become my mantra and kept my wormy buddies thriving through thick and thin. Always try to keep a balance of food for your wormy buddies. We’ve got two key players here: browns and greens, the nicknames for different types of organic matter to use in composting. What makes the best worm food? A perfect balance of browns and greens.
- 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. Think of them as the quiet, reliable backbone of your compost pile.
- Greens are high in nitrogen or protein, thus organic nitrogen sources. These products help the composting micro herd 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”.
How Much & How Often Should You Feed Worms?
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, however, I would stick to feeding every other or every 3 days. You do not want to overwhelm the bin, as this will lead to attracting unwanted pests and odors.
What Happens If You Overfeed Worms?
When feeding worms, it’s all about serving up the right-sized portions of food scraps to your tiny companions. Going overboard and piling on too much grub for your composting worms can stir up a smelly, acidic, soggy mess in your bin, inviting unwanted guests like pests and resulting in upset, sick worms.
So, avoid overfeeding worms to keep your worm bin thriving and odor-free!
Should You Add Bedding When Feeding Your Worms?
Yes! Your worms have a taste for bedding and chow on it, too, although it takes more time to break down that food waste, earning its “slow food” status. Now, here’s the key part: bedding soaks up water. When you toss in food waste, which is often a whopping 80-90% water (just think about those juicy fruits and veggies!), you’re in excess moisture territory.
To keep that delicate balance act we’ve talked about in your worm bin; it should hover around a cozy 70% moisture level. Excess water can turn your bin into a too-hot, overly acidic mess that’s no place for happy worms, and that’s why you should introduce some bedding when feeding your worms, especially wet food. I usually sprinkle some fresh bedding into the mix every other feeding and when dealing with a hefty food load or moist food.
Master the Worm Menu for a Thriving Worm Farm
Remember, a little knowledge about what makes your squirmy pals happy and full goes a long way in maintaining a thriving composting worm farm. Overall, worms will benefit from a balanced diet. Maintain the proper moisture and PH levels and balance of green and brown food, and your worms will be healthy, wiggly, and good to go! Plus, you can say goodbye to the nasty smells and fruit fly larvae for good and have nutrient-rich worm castings.
At my farm, you can get everything you need for a thriving worm farm in one place. From live red wigglers that churn out premium worm castings and, of course, the finest worm food, bedding, and supplies on the block – we’ve got it all!
Can Worms Eat Sugar?
Yes, worms can consume small amounts of sugar, such as leftover sweets or sugar-containing fruit scraps. However, it’s best to offer sugar in moderation, as excessive sugar can attract pests and disrupt the delicate pH balance in your worm bin.
Can Worms Eat Rice?
Absolutely! Worms can devour cooked or uncooked rice with no issue. Just ensure the rice is plain, without oil, and hasn’t been heavily seasoned, as spices and additives might not agree with your wormy friends.
Do Worms Eat Flour?
Worms can consume small amounts of flour, like what’s left over from baking or cooking. Flour packs a punch with iron, protein, and a treasure trove of trace minerals. However, it can clump when wet, potentially causing moisture issues in your bin. To avoid this, mix flour with other organic matter and introduce it in moderation to keep your worm composter running smoothly.
Can Worms Eat Banana Peels?
Absolutely! Banana peels make excellent food for worms.
How Do You Make Homemade Worm Food?
Just gather up those kitchen scraps worms love to eat, steering clear of any overly acidic or pungent items. Chop them into smaller, manageable pieces, or blend them into a pulp. Mix in used coffee grounds for an extra nutritional punch or some crushed eggshells for added grit and calcium.
Add shredded plain paper or cardboard to the mix for the bedding and to balance moisture levels in your worm bin. Moderation is key. Keep an eye on moisture, and let your wormy pals work their magic. Voila! You’ve got a sustainable, DIY worm buffet.