Browns are high in carbon and carbohydrates, while greens add a lot of nitrogen and protein to the soil. Browns may be food or non-food items, such as coffee grounds, paper, egg cartons, or dry leaves.
Fruit peelings (not citrus) Melon rinds Carrots Coffee grounds Teabags Bread Cereal (unsweetened) Pasta (plain) Cucumbers Lettuce Cornmeal Squash And in the case of meats, fats, and grease, these foods attract insects and can stink up a worm bin or garden in short order.
If you're using a bin, make sure to cover the food with bedding to help minimize attention from flies or other critters and to reduce odors. Remember, worms caveat up to half their weight in food each day if they are in a fully established vermicomposter.
By keeping these tips in mind, you'll have a healthy, happy worm bin and better soil for a better garden. We’ve tried a bunch of foods in our bins at home and have a nice list for you to keep things simple.
Vegetable scraps: apple cores, peels, carrot tops and wilted lettuce or trimmings. Drastically limit citrus or eliminate all together to avoid fruit flies and to keep the bin clean smelling and easy to work with.
SPOIL ‘EM ROTTEN: If you really want to make brats out of your worms, chop up their food. Your bin may be completed in record time by making it easier for the worms to break down the scraps.
You can also store chopped up food in the frig until ready to feed if you end up with extra. PUT THAT FOOD TO BED: Because we keep our worms inside our garage, it’s important to us that the bin not call fruit flies, mice or get over-run with ants.
Click on the image to learn more about the e-book or add the .PDF version to your shopping cart now. We make our own fertilizers and have info on this site and more comprehensive e-book with tons of great recipes.
For more info on getting started with worm composting check out these related articles: One of the major reasons to worm compost at home is to responsibly dispose of your food waste (instead of sending it to a land fill).
Worms eat tiny, invisible, bacteria that feed on the food scraps that you add to your vermicomposting bin. You can feed your composting worms any vegetable food scraps including eggshells and coffee grounds.
NOTE: I frequently put small amounts of these foods in my worm composting bin without any problems. Cooked food often has seasonings, especially salt, which can harm your worms.
Do not put paper towels that have chemicals on them in your worm bin. In small quantities I have found that it works well but in large quantities pet hair can easily clump together making it harder for the composting worms to break it down.
If you want your worms to eat faster, chop the food scraps into small pieces ahead of time and throw them in the freezer overnight. Chopping (some people even use a blender) increases the surface area of each piece of food making it easier for the worms (and the bacteria) to eat.
Freezing and then thawing your worm food breaks the cell walls of the food which makes it more mushy (when thawed) and easier for the composting worms to eat. Therefore, they need to wait until the food scraps begin to rot and get soft and mushy.
If you keep your worm composting bin indoors you will want to manage it a bit more carefully to ensure that you never get fruit flies or foul odors. Plan to feed your outdoor composting worms about once every 2 or 3 weeks.
That’s a pretty good incentive to buy fruits and vegetables more often. If your eating habits include more processed food than organic food, then you may find some difficulty in coming up with enough organic matter to feed your red worms.
This isn’t to say that people should avoid meats or dairy, or yummy desserts for that matter, but worms love organic food scraps, so it’s always good to have a little on hand, and most people do. The more fresh fruits and veggies scraps you’re able to feed your worms, the better.
Otherwise, your worms will have to settle for a steady diet of coffee grounds, dead flowers, newspaper and cardboard. Worms live in a condensed, confined area, so it’s important to keep their environment free of certain types of food that they don’t like to eat or can harm them.
For instance, the pH levels of the bin cannot become too acidic, or it will harm the worms. Also, worms must breathe through their skin and certain types of food will irritate that process.
Other foods will stink up real bad when thrown into a composter and that can attract rats and other vermin. For this month’s blog post, we decided to do something a little different.
We put our heads together here at The Squirm Firm, and we’ve come up with this amazing infographic to help you answer the question, “What cared wiggler worms eat?” Their diet consists mostly of vegetables and fruits, no meat, dairy or anything greasy.
Pizza crust (without the cheese) Pasta (no butter sauce) Rice (brown or white, long or short grain) Bread (whole wheat, sourdough or whatever you like) Pancakes (or waffles without the whipped butter or cream) Of course, red wigglers also enjoy materials not in a healthy human diet.
These items include shredded newspapers, crushed eggshells, coffee grounds, tea bags (without the staple), and paper egg cartons. To keep your compost more chemical-free, be sure to rinse off the vegetables and fruits before tossing them in the bin.
You want to make sure you are feeding your worms a nutritious diet, but you don’t have the time to go research online. If you found this infographic useful, and would like more great worm composting tips, tricks, and how-to’s, sign up for our newsletter using the bar at the top of this page.
I decided to go on a quest and compile the most comprehensive list that I could have food items they will not (or should not) eat. After all, composting worms are well-known for eating a wide variety of different foods, even some that people wouldn’t traditionally consider edible.
Citrus rinds have strong aromatic oils that worms don’t like (they breathe through the surface of their skin), and even when they are broken up into very small pieces, they still take forever to decompose. I hear people say that you can feed them in very small quantities, but it’s not worth the hassle.
Oranges Tangerines Lemons Limes Grapefruit Kumquats You Buddha’s Hand Citron Since they do not decompose easily and worms won’t readily eat them, these peels are better suited for other practical purposes around the home and garden.
This is not just because worms don’t like it and won’t eat it, but also because rotting meat in the compost bin smells repulsive and tends to attract unwanted pests like flies and rats. Composting worms can ’t properly break down and process oils or other kinds of fat.
Because worms won’t eat oily foods, they’ll just sit in the bin and rot. Not only are these preservative chemicals potentially dangerous to composting worms, but your red wigglers will generally avoid them.
Most people invest in a worm bin as part of a gardening adventure or in an effort to eat and consume more thoughtfully, so if you’re bummed out about the prospect of not being able to compost your processed foods, think of it as an excuse to buy whole organic foods instead. The pungent smell that dairy products give off is bound to attract pests, and once those fats start rotting in the bin, you’re not even going to want to open it.
Here is a list of dairy products you should avoid adding to your composting worms as a food source: Imagine having to breathe a vapor of the same substance that causes you to tear up whenever you chop an onion, and that’s a pretty good idea of how albums are irritating to composting worms.
An additional drawback to albums in the composting bin is that they tend to stink a lot more than they break down compared to other fruits and vegetables. Like citrus rinds, bread tends to mold quickly when introduced to a compost bin, and this can lead to the introduction of mold that may or may not damage the ecosystem of the compost bin and the worms living inside it.
This will help the bread become mushy and break down into the soil before it has a chance to grow airborne mold. Composting worms can only eat and absorb food that is in a very small, very soft state, which means that you can ’t just throw large dry leaves of old cabbage or some other starchy food into the compost bin and expect the worms to be able to process it quickly or efficiently.
If you place food in the compost bin in pieces that are too big, it will often begin to rot before the worms have a chance to eat it. This means that regardless of what kind of organic fruits and vegetables and grains you put in your worm bin, they need to be broken down into small pieces.
Spicy foods like peppers are also typically high in acid, and since the pH of a worm bin’s soil should be as close to neutral as possible, you don’t want to introduce any elements that can potentially cause a pH problem in your compost. You leave a Tupperware full of salad in the back of the fridge by accident until it’s growing a new life form, or one of the potatoes in your brand-new sack is mushy and leaking something that smells vile.
If the food has already begun to rot in the open air without soil exposure, it’s probably not a great idea to throw it in the worm bin even if it’s organic. As soon as you add high levels of fat or protein to a food, it is not suitable for a worm or compost bin.
To get a better understanding of where to draw the line, read my article CanRedWigglersEat Mold and Rotten Food? This is because fresh manure is very high in nitrogen, which can actually have a detrimental effect on your composting worms.
This short YouTube video outlines the cautions to take when feeding your worms cow manure. While we’re on the subject of animal droppings, dog and cat feces from your household pets are also not a good option for a worm bin.
Not only is there the same pathogen risk that there is with adding dog feces to a worm bin, but there is also the introduced factor of potential biohazards involved. Homemade composting systems that involve human waste are usually against sanitary code as well, so it’s just better avoided.
This sawdust can then be used to sprinkle into your worm bin to help control excess moisture and smells coming from the compost. Sawdust from a workshop would be fine too so long as you are working with raw woods, not treated.
As long as you don’t introduce unwanted weeds or pesticides to the worm bin, lawn clippings can be a good dry addition to help balance out excess moisture, and a cut of fresh mowed grass can also help improve the worm bin’s smell when it starts to get a little ripe. One of the benefits of using fresh-cut lawn clipping is that they are still usually pretty wet when their first cut and get powdery when they are given a chance to dry out, so they can be used to either add moisture to the worm bin or detract moisture, depending on which capability you need at the time.