worm composting
Organic Gardening

Vermicomposting for Beginners: What Do Worms Eat and Drink?

If you’re beginning a homestead, tending a garden, or just trying to get rid of your kitchen scraps in an eco-friendly way, you’ve likely considered raising worms, or vermiculture. But before you take the plunge, there’s one important question you need to ask – what do worms eat and drink? Is there any special care you have to take when it comes to feeding them? Read on for the answers! 

This post is all about ‘what do worms eat and drink’.

Vermiculture Worms: What is Vermiculture?

Vermiculture is the practice of worm growth, reproduction, and health. Worms are a very crucial component for healthy soil. They’re part of the decomposition process, or vermicompost, and break down waste like vegetables and various other food waste. The end product which is the worm’s excrements is known as vermicast, or worm castings. 

Worm castings contain a high amount of nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, and 7 times the available potash.

Feeding Your Composting Worms: Tips and Tricks for a Healthy Diet

Composting worms are like tiny superheroes in the garden or farm. They take organic matter and turn it into nutrient-rich soil that can be used to grow healthy plants. But, just like any superhero, they need a healthy diet to perform their best. That’s where this guide comes in. In the next few pages, we’ll explore the dos and don’ts of feeding your composting worms, give you some homemade worm food recipes, and even show you where to find these little critters. So, let’s get started and ensure your composting worms are eating for success.

Understanding Your Composting Worms’ Diet: What Do Worms Eat? 

To ensure your composting worms are eating a healthy diet, it’s important to understand what they can and cannot eat. The dos and don’ts of feeding your worms are simple but essential to their well-being. Worms are scavengers by nature and happily munch away at most organic material. 

They can be fed the following items that you can find in your home:

  • kitchen scraps such as fruit and vegetable peels
  • Eggshells
  • coffee grounds 
  • tea bags
  • pre-made worm food which contains a mix of grains, seeds, nuts and other organic matter.  
  • brown materials like shredded paper or cardboard

Avoid giving them meat or dairy products as these tend to rot quickly and make their environment smell bad. 

It’s also important to avoid feeding your worms anything that has been sprayed with pesticides or chemicals. This can not only harm your worms but also the plants you plan to use the compost on.

By understanding your composting worms’ diet and following the dos and don’ts, you can ensure that your worms are healthy and producing nutrient-rich compost for your garden or farm.

Fun fact: Worms eat about 25% of their body weight each day. 1 pound of worms can consume about ¼ pound of food scraps per day.

Thus, vermicomposting is suitable for anyone that generates 1 pound of food waste per day.

To take your worm feeding to the next level, try your hand at creating your own worm food with our homemade recipes.

Recipes for Homemade Worm Food

To add variety to your worms’ diet and maximize their nutritional intake, consider making your own worm food. Homemade worm food allows you to control the ingredients and ensure that your worms are getting the proper nutrients they need to thrive. Here are a few simple recipes to try:

  1. DIY Compost Mix: Mix together equal parts of shredded newspaper, coconut coir, and food scraps. This provides a balanced mix of carbon and nitrogen for your worms.
  2. Vegetable Scrap Puree: Blend together vegetable scraps like carrot tops, celery stalks, and lettuce leaves with a small amount of water. This puree can be added to the worm bin as a nutritious snack for your worms.
  3. Eggshell Powder: Crush up eggshells into a fine powder and sprinkle it in the worm bin. This provides calcium, which is essential for the worms’ reproductive health.

By experimenting with different recipes and ingredients, you can keep your worms healthy and active while producing high-quality compost for your garden. And if you’re in need of some more worms to feed, check out our next section on where to find composting worms.

What Do Worms Drink? 

Unlike other animals, worms don’t actually drink water directly from their environment. Instead they absorb moisture from the food they eat – so make sure to keep their food moist! You can do this by adding a bit of water each time you feed them or by using damp bedding (such as shredded newspaper). Overly wet environments can damage the worms though so be careful not overwater!  Also remember that if your worms live outdoors they may get enough rainwater naturally – so use your best judgment when adding extra water.  

Vermiculture Bins: Creating a Vermicomposting Worm Farm

Starting a worm farm can be as simple as using a storage bin that you have at home, or you can purchase a composter.  Whatever you choose to use to create your vermicomposting worm farm, make sure it has holes in it for aeration and drainage.

Vermiculture Worms: What type of worm to use

Did you know there are over 9,000 types of earthworms?? But there are only 7 types of earthworms that are suitable for vermicomposting with red wigglers being the most commonly used.

Worm Farming DIY

As noted, you can either make a worm farm or purchase one. Worm farms are usually made in some sort of bin. The bin should be made from untreated wood or wood.

Items for Worm Farm

  • Bin
  • Bedding – the worm farm needs some sort of bedding to create an environment for the earthworms and to cover any food scraps. Anything used to create their environment should be non-toxic items. Bedding can be the following items:
    • Shredded paper (newspapers, paper bags, cardboard, etc). Do not use anything with glossy paper or magazines.
    • Coir 
    • Decaying leaves
    • Aged manure from any vegetable eating animal (rabbits, horses, etc.) If you’re using aged manure, be sure it does not contain any deworming medication.
    • ~1000 earthworms, or 1 pound of earthworms (there are plenty of online shops where you can purchase worms, but don’t get them from a bait shop)
    • Food scraps
    • Garden soil

Setting Up Your Worm Farm Tips

  1. When you’re setting up the bedding in your worm farm, make sure the material used is dampened. Soak the bedding for 5 to 10 minutes and then ring it out. The material should be soaking wet. Put the bedding in the worm farm and then add in a handful of healthy garden soil. Adding in healthy garden soil introduces beneficial microorganisms which will help the earthworms’ digestion.
  2. Unlike a traditional composting bin, the worm farm doesn’t need to be rotated.
  3. Fill the bin halfway with bedding before introducing the earthworms. Once you’ve added them, they’ll scramble to avoid light.
  4. The ideal temperature for the worm farm is 70 degrees Fahrenheit but can range between 55 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Below or above this range of temperature causes the worms to decrease the amount they eat and breed.
  5. The soil acidity in the bin should be 7.0 pH.
  6. Moisture levels should be maintained between 60% to 85%. 

[RELATED POST: All About Mushroom Compost for the Vegetable Garden]

Where to Find Composting Worms

By now, you may be wondering where to find composting worms to add to your worm bin. There are a few different options available, depending on your location and preferences.

One option is to purchase composting worms from a supplier. You can find them online or through local gardening stores. Red wigglers are the most common type of composting worm used, but some suppliers also offer other species such as European nightcrawlers.

Another option is to check with local farmers or gardeners who may have extra worms to spare. They may be willing to share or sell their excess worms.

You can also try to attract wild composting worms to your bin by adding organic material and creating a suitable habitat. However, this method may take longer to establish a sufficient population of worms.

No matter where you get your composting worms, be sure to do research on the supplier or source to ensure they are healthy and free of potential contaminants or pesticides.

With a healthy population of composting worms, you can continue to experiment with different ingredients and recipes to create high-quality compost for your garden.


Worms are incredibly easy creatures to look after but it’s important that we understand what worms eat and drink in order to ensure we’re providing them with all the nutrition they need for optimal health. With proper diet and hydration, your worms will thrive for years – happy wriggling away in their home! So go ahead and start composting with confidence knowing that you know exactly what kind of diet will help keep your little friends healthy!


  1. What is the difference between vermiculture and vermicompost?

Vermiculture is almost like farming worms. It’s the use of worms to create compost. The compost that’s created by the worms is called vermicompost.

  1. What are the advantages of vermiculture?

There are a lot of advantages to using vermiculture. Earthworms help with aeration of the soil, texture, compaction, water retention, increases nutrients in the soil and thereby enhances root growth and overall absorption of nutrients.

  1. What are the disadvantages of vermiculture?

As with anything, there can be disadvantages. Just as with traditional composting, there has to be a balance of the items put into the vermiculture bin. The bin can attract pests, like fruit flies. There is the possibility of more pathogens than traditional composting since vermiculture doesn’t rely on heat for breaking down waste. A consistent temperature needs to be maintained for the earthworms so they can do their job. Remember, if the temperature is too cold or hot, it reduces the activity and reproduction of the worms. The process can also be smelly. 

[RELATED POST: 5 Ideas on Where to Buy Compost]

[RELATED POST: The 5 Best Composts for the Garden]

4. How Often Should I Feed My Worms? 

Most experts recommend feeding your worms once every week or two weeks depending on how much food they are given at each feeding. As a general rule of thumb – only give them as much food as they can eat within seven days otherwise the excess will start to rot before the worms have had a chance to consume it all. Just remember that overfeeding is always better than underfeeding!  

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