Vermicomposting enthusiasts agree overall on what to feed their worms. In this article, we add our subjective twist as to the top five best foods to make your worms thrive. You want to keep your worms happy and healthy so they can produce lots of natural, organic fertilizer. People who cultivate lawns, shrubs, and flowers love the “black gold” fertilizer from vermicomposting.
Before we list the top five best foods, we need to list the WORST foods.
The Seven Worst Things to Feed Your Worms:
- The 3 S’s: Anything that contains spices, salt, and sauces
- Meat, bone, and gristle
- Dairy and that includes milk, cream, butter, yogurt and cheese
- Acidic foods which include pineapple, limes, oranges, and lemons plus their rinds, and tomatoes
- Any food with preservatives and chemicals such as fast food
- Non-foods, i.e., plastic, sawdust, windowed envelopes, and other rubbish
We suggest that you toss these items immediately into the trash receptacle and do NOT feed them to your worms.
Some Reminders About Worm Food
Here are a few simple reminders before we venture into the Top Five Best Foods:
Under ideal conditions, a worm can eat its own body weight from food scraps each day. If you have two pounds of worms in your bin, you can feed up to two pounds of waste a day. However, a good rule of thumb is to feed your worms after they have started to work on the last feeding. This might be every other day, or every three days. In this way, food scraps will be gone with no overpowering odors or pests. Read more details about feeding the worms.
Try to maintain the proper amount of moisture and a pH balance of approximately 7.
Last but not least, the smaller the pieces of food, the faster your worms will compost it. Cut the food up using a knife, food chopper, or food processor.
Top Five Best Foods for Your Worms
#1 Leafy Green Vegetables
Worms love lettuce, kale, Swiss chard, to name a few of these vegetables. Be sure to cut these scraps down into small pieces or even food process them. Remember to thoroughly rinse off all hot spices, sauces, oils, dressings, and cheeses because they can harm your vermicomposting project.
#2 Melons/Squash and Pumpkins
Cantaloupe and honeydew are the top choices. However, due to the high water content in honeydew and likewise in watermelon, we suggest limited portions. Melon rinds are also yummy for your worms.
Broccoli is great for your worms. Just cut it down to smaller pieces or food process it and your worms will be happy. A note of caution: Along with bananas and their peels and cabbage family vegetables, broccoli smells bad for indoor composting.
The good part about apples is that everything is digestible: peel, core, and the flesh of the apple itself.
#5 SURPRISE: Pasta
Pasta is not addressed so much, but still a good food for your worms within certain parameters. The pasta needs to be clean of sauces, butter, cheeses, and oils!
Note: Worms can eat most fruits and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, used tea leaves, etc. The list above highlights some of our favorites.
Check out our other articles for more information on what to feed your worms. Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm is the top American supplier of Red Composting Worms, the Kings of Composting. We also have European Night Crawlers, wonderful for composting, great for aeration and superb as fishing bait. We also have an array of vermicomposting bins and supplies to meet your every need.
35 comments on “Top Five Best Foods for Composting Worms”
I use multi-grain infant cereal to add ” brown” to all the greens. Inexpensive and lasts quite a while. Did not have good luck using leaf mold or old hay. Introduced bad bugs.
My worm bin is loaded with rolly pollys, those grey bugs that look like tiny armadillos. Why did this happen and how can I get rid of them?
I used to feed potato peelings but then noticed a sudden increase of fruit flies so I don’t feed them to the worms anymore.
Those armadillo things are probably soldier fly larvae.
I haven’t fed potato peelings extensively but have boiled them before feeding to soften them up or have frozen them first and it didn’t seem to be a problem. Don’t know how it would be if there was a high volume but from only several potatoes it seemed alright. Good luck.
I seem to have a bunch of the fly larvae as well, but online research suggests to me that they are OK to leave in… I had been hand-picking them and pulling them out. Anyone have thoughts or advice on that?
I’ve had a problem with a little black bug, that flies, too, that I’d like to find out how to get rid of them. It was suggested that a half of Avocado skin would attract them. So, I put the halves in and when I go to take them out within the next few days, there’s very tiny red bugs, thousands of them, in the shell. I immediately put them in a bucket of soapy water to drown them. Would Diatomaceous Earth work to get rid of these and not hurt the worms??
Does uncle Jim’s even raise any worms? My understanding is that it’s just a middleman and the worms are raised by independents and drop shipped.
I use alot of coffee grounds and apple cores. They do like old lettuce or extra green beans.
Mine worms go crazy for corn!!!!
I live in NH we have lots of ants! I put worms in my garden and I swear the ants ate them??? I have composted for years and have read all the articles here and other places and am doing it right.
I have even tried uncooked grits to get rid of the ants naturally! Suggestions please do not want to use pesticides.
I have worm composted successfully for years…but recently have lots of tiny white bugs in my compost bin…can anyone tell me what they are and why they have appeared all of a sudden…I have done nothing different
This comment section would be more useful if someone from Jim’s would answer questions asked
How much moisture do I but in bin and how often?
I live in the middle of a vegetable farm and am allowed to savage the unwanted or unsalable ,I found that My worms love their late watermelons and oversize cucumbers .
I live in South Texas with the same problem. The ants always outgrow me no matter what natural means I use. For sugar ants, though, I’ve been able to keep them minimized by mixing one part Borax with 10 parts sugar and some water in a plastic container (like dips come in)–after mixing to a soft paste put the lid back on, tape it around the edges with duct tape to protect your pets, and then cut slits in the sides. The ants will swarm to it. For larger invasive ants like fire ants, carpenter ants, cutter ants, etc. I used Amdro this Spring. Nothing less would get rid of them and then a huge mound popped up in my neighbor’s backyard. I don’t know whether they’ve done anything about it but I’ve seen only sugar ant activity in my yard and a random larger ant or two foraging. I’m keeping watch though and will treat as necessary. Best of luck to you.
compost bin-does compost bin cause mosquitoes in the house?
Please do not use DE (diatomaceous earth) in your worm bins. it will harm them as it is made up of tiny very sharp remnants of diatoms. That is why it is used for snail/slug control (among other soft bodied critters) as it cuts them and causes them to dehydrate
Should not – mosquitoes require standing water, I believe, and even then the adult mosquitoes will need access. Should not be possible in a closed compost bin.
RE: Moisture: My rule of thumb is that I should be able to grab a handful of “dirt” and squeeze it and expect just a few drops of water to come out. Like a sponge that’s already been wrung out.
I live in Manhattan and have much success with wrigglers. It took me several years to have five bins full with happy worms of all sizes. I thank “Uncle Jim” for the initial quantity of worms and the type of containers they sell. I particularly appreciate the scientific information published in their email on a regular basis;e.g. what to do to keep bins at the right temperature during summers and winters; why the different colors of eggs….
Question: We have old hops (never made the beer as planned). Are these ok for the worms to eat? They are in pellet and whole leaf form – Cascade, Kent Golding, and Willamette Hops.
For problems with ants. Put a nice layer of ground cinnamon around where you wanna keep away ants. It won’t kill the ants but it will repel them. Beekeepers use this to keep ants away from the beehive mouth. I use them to keep away ants and mealybugs and other things. Food grade ground cinnamon. The smell will deter them. You will have to put more cinnamon when it rains and washes the cinnamon away.
you don’t need worm bin to raise worms. If you have a place on your property, start a pile of composting material covered with dirt. The worms won’t vacate the pile because it has everything they need. Just keep adding vegetable matter and cover it with a few shoves of dirt. If you don’t cover it, you will flood the community with fruit flies like I did! If you are a fisherman, you will have an endless supply of bait even during a dry spell. you may need to wet the compost down on occasion. In the fall, ground up leaves are a great addition to your compost.
I live in central Florida and used to have problems with ants getting into my worms til I raised my containers off the ground using cinder blocks and only feeding them soaked cardboard and cow manure that has laid on the ground a bit and dried out. I just crumble the manure and gently push it slightly down into the surface and put a layer of oak leaves on top.As someone else mentioned if the soil is slightly moist ants really can’t work the soil and establish a nest in it however they are opportunistic and will eat darn near anything other than most green vegetables.potatoes contain starch which is a form of sugar ( they will come by the hundreds for that.and keeping mine in a somewhat dark pump shed keeps them cool and the soil stays constantly moist with me seldom adding water.But that may only apply to Florida.
l just started a red worm bed in 25 gal plastic drum. I will use dried cow manure, oak leaves and soaked news paper ie only the black and white pages, Is that enough to get them started, I appreciate any help.
Can you give clover and broccoli sprouts to worms?
That is an excellent choice for starter bedding.
The aged horse manure is also one of the best foods for ‘wrigglers’.
Wondering if seeds from green bell peppers might start growing in worm bin?
Yes, seeds from plants can grow in the worm bin and will unless you turn it once every other week or so. Some vegetables will also grow if in large enough pieces.
Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm
thanks for the offer…..BUT ….I’m in New Zealand….bit far for them to crawl!
Enjoyed and learned from your information. Thank you…much appreciated.
Can you feed red wiggles lots of free cooked potatoes that has no season
on them .Thanks
Put cinder blocks in pans of water you can get relatively cheap at Dollar tree or one of the other Dollar general stores. Ants won’t go into the water to climb up the cinder blocks to get to the worms or anything else you don’t want us to get to I used it for my dog’s food and for rabbits and chicken feed. Best of luck!
Can I put coconut pulp, ( the white part) in my worm bin? I have shredded and extracted the milk/oil from it for coconut milk, and now it’s just pulp. Will it harm the worms? Will they like it?
Good Question! Coconut is used for a natural remedy for parasites, but it should not harm earthworms in small quantities at a time. That is if the worms like it. I would recommend trying a small portion in the bin and see what they do. If they eat it? Great! If they do a mass exodus, remove it right away! Worms will let you know if they like it or not. We cannot find anything in it being toxic to worms in our extended search.
Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm