- Garden Worms
- EarthWorms 4 Sale
- Earthworms For Sale
- Composting Worms
- Fishing Worms
- Feeder Worms
- Welcome to Kookaburra Worm Farms. Browse our top sellers
- Ten Things to Know about Earthworms
- Are the worms a garden’s friend or foe?
- What Do Worms Eat? A Road Map for What To Feed Your Worms
- What Worms Like to Eat
- What is the Best Worm Food?
- Final Thoughts on What to Feed Your Worms
- Feeding Your Worms – worm composting
- Earthworm Diet
- Digestive System of an Earthworm
- Major Benefits of Earthworms
- Earthworm Anatomy
- Earthworm Behavior/Lifecycle
- Ecology Of Earthworms
- What Do Worms Eat – The Basics
- The Ultimate Worm Farm Guide for Beginners
- Worm Farm Food List
- Carbon-to-Nitrogen Ratio
- Outdoor Compost Bin
HOW YOUR ORDER WILL WIGGLE IT’S WAY TO YOU.
All our orders are now despatched from our farm here in Herefordshire and so we’ve made a few changes. All orders will be sent out on the same day that you order whenever possible as long as you order before 1pm.
Wiggly Standard Delivery (3 – 5 day delivery) £3.95
If you don’t mind when your order arrives… (within reason of course) Choose standard delivery and we will despatch your order with the best option for us. This may be DPD or Royal Mail. You need to allow 2 – 5 days for delivery, and we can post to anywhere in mainland Britain.
Next Day Delivery for £5.95
We aim to despatch all orders on the same day if you order arrives before 1pm but if you need it guaranteed next day delivery, select this option, you must order before 1PM the day before.
Highlands and Islands
Please choose the standard option as there is no guaranteed service for next day on the following postcodes:
IV1-IV99, KA27-KA28, KW1-K17, AB31-AB38, AB41-AB56, FK17-FK21, PH15-PH50, HS1-HS9, ZE1-ZE3 PA20–PA80
we are not able to offer a next day DPD service (it will take longer).
Overseas – Not Available.
Saturday Delivery – Not Available.
Email us at [email protected] if you need any further information, or you can phone us on 01981 500391 phones open between Mon-Fri 10am – 1pm
EarthWorms 4 Sale
Earthworms For Sale
We are your premier source of Red Worms (Eisenia Fetida) and European Nightcrawlers (Eisenia Hortensis). With over 50 years of collective experience in raising, packing, and shipping earthworms you can rest assured you are getting the best quality worms at excellent prices.
We have the earthworms for sale that you are looking for. The most common use of worms include: vermicomposting (aka. worm composting), fishing, and pet food. Use the guide below to figure out which worm best meets your needs.
Worms are great for composting. They take your food waste and turn it into rich, dark crumbly dirt for your garden. Here are some of the benefits of vermicompost* (material left after worms eat all the food):
improves root growth and structure
enriches soil with micro-organisms
attracts deep-burrowing earthworms already present in the soil;
improves water holding capacity;
enhances germination, plant growth, and crop yield
improves soil’s physical structure;
The best composting worms are the red worms. The european nightcrawlers are in the same family as redworms, so they too make a good composting worm. They are larger so they could also serve as a fishing worm or pet food.
If you want to raise your own fishing worms or just buy in bulk to save money you’ve come to the right spot. The european nightcrawlers are the worm for you. They are larger than the red worms, making them just the right size to fish with. Sometimes refered to as the “Jumbo Reds”, the european nightcrawlers can just as easily be raised in a compost bin, but are much larger. You will never need to pay $5 a dozen (for small, tired, looking worms) when you can have an unlimited supply of big, fresh, lively worms at home.
Do you have a pet reptile, amphibian, or bird? You should definitely consider feeding your pet some of our lively and very nutritious worms. The red worms are going to be your best choice for your smaller pets. They make great pet food for: frogs, turtles, snakes, salamanders, newts, birds, and many other animals. If you have a larger pet you may consider feeding them the larger european nightcrawlers instead.
We have expanded our business to more than just earthworms for sale. We now carry a serveral other products including: worm supplies, worm books, and composting equipment. Check back soon, because we plan to add even more!
Let us know if you can’t find what you are looking for or if you have any questions about the worms and worm supplies we carry.
We think you will find our worms and other products are of a superior quality. We are the worm experts and we want to provide you with the best products and service.
*Benefits of vermicomposting found on Wikipedia.
Welcome to Kookaburra Worm Farms. Browse our top sellers
What’s in it for you?
When you buy worms from us, you not only get the best quality worms available, grown by the most professional family owned worm farm in Australia, but you also get access to the most down to earth knowledge and advice about worms that is second to none. We are passionate about our worms and passionate about helping you to do the best for your family and for the environment as whole. One family at a time, and we can change the world!!!
Kookaburra Worm Farms is Australia’s largest and most innovative breeders of worms. Our speciality is the large-scale breeding of compost worms – we have the widest varieties of compost worms in Australia. We are the only worm farm in Australia that supplies compost worm eggs. Eggs are a cheaper and safer option to buying live worms. And in another first for Australia we are the only worm farm that breeds native earthworms. We sell their eggs in our Garden Worm Bombs. Great for inoculating and improving gardens and farms with poor quality soil devoid of earthworms.
We are also the developers of the Little Rotter worm farms. We call them the “Easiest Worm Farms in the World”. They are light years ahead of any other worm farm, being so much simpler, cheaper and far more effective and efficient than existing worm farms. Check them out in our store. Thank you for taking the time to locate us and look through this website. Our family business emphasis is on reliable knowledge, quality and value for money.
Ten Things to Know about Earthworms
A night crawler, one of the earthworm species popular for use in bait fishing. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
As winter draws to a close, gardeners begin their spring migration into the outdoors, leaving winter dens behind and coming into contact with the harbingers of the shifting seasons: shovels, hoes and trowels. Oh, and earthworms.
Anyone prone to working the soil knows that upturning the earth exposes these shiny, wigging, pinkish to brownish tubular life forms, sending them thrashing in hasty retreat into the comforting, moist darkness of the soil.
Are the worms a garden’s friend or foe?
Here are 10 things you may want to know about earthworms.
- Earthworms come in a seemly infinite variety—around 6,000 species worldwide. One of the most familiar of them, the sort you may see in your garden, is commonly known as the night crawler (it typically surfaces after dark), the angleworm (its makes popular bait for fishing) or the rain worm (it leaves waterlogged soil after storms).
- Of the more than 180 earthworm species found in the United States and Canada, 60 are invasive species, brought over from the Old World, including the night crawler.
- Lacking lungs or other specialized respiratory organs, earthworms breathe through their skin.
- The skin exudes a lubricating fluid that makes moving through underground burrows easier and helps keep skin moist. One Australian species can shoot fluid as far as 12 inches through skin pores.
- Each earthworm is both male and female, producing both eggs and sperm. They mate on the surface of the earth, pressing their bodies together and exchanging sperm before separating. Later, the clitellum, a collarlike organ that goes around the worm’s body the way a cigar band does a cigar, produces a ring around the worm. As the worm crawls out of the ring, it fills the ring with eggs and sperm. The ring drops off, seals shut at the ends and becomes a cocoon for the developing eggs.
Earthworm egg cases look like tiny lemons. When earthworms hatch, they look like tiny adults. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
- Baby worms emerge from the eggs tiny but fully formed. They grow sex organs within the first two or three months of life and reach full size in about a year. They may live up to eight years, though one to two is more likely.
- Full size for an earthworm varies among species, ranging from less than half an inch long to nearly 10 feet. The latter monsters don’t occur in U.S. backyards—you’ll have to go to the Tropics to see one of them. The homegrown versions top out at around 14 inches.
- The glaciers that crawled across Canada into the northern tier of the lower 48 states during the most recent ice age wiped out earthworms in those areas. In other parts of the United States, you may find native earthworm species, but the worms living in the regions scoured by glaciers are invaders from overseas, brought here intentionally by early settlers on the assumption that the worms would improve the soil, or carried accidentally in shipments of plants or even in dirt used as ballast in ships.
- The earthworm’s digestive system is a tube running straight from the mouth, located at the tip of the front end of the body, to the rear of the body, where digested material is passed to the outside. Species vary in what they eat, but by and large their devouring of fallen leaves and/or soil allows the worms to move nutrients such as potassium and nitrogen into the soil. Also, worm movements within the earth create burrows that encourage the passage of air and a loosening of the soil. Good things, right? Well, maybe not. Which brings us to 10.
- The northern forest evolved after the glaciers retreated, yielding an ecosystem that does not benefit from earthworms. These forests require a deep layer of slowly decomposing leaves and other organic matter called “duff” that overlays the soil. When earthworms invade these forests, they quickly eat up the duff, with the result that nutrients become less available to young, growing plants, and the soil, instead of aerating and loosening, becomes more compact. The combined effects of such developments have resulted in damage to trees such as sugar maples and to many forest herbs and understory plants, such as trillium, rare goblin ferns, trout lilies and other forest-floor species. In some areas, oak forests have been overrun by buckthorn, and in others the presence of earthworms has allowed the invasion of Japanese barberry. As duff disappears, so do the insects and other small creatures that depend on it for survival, with the result that animals such as salamanders lose a key food source and face population declines. Earthworm burrows also may speed the passage of water through forest soil, another change that might be a benefit to farmland or a garden with compacted soil but that is a negative in a northern forest.
BONUS FACT: Although eradicating earthworms in areas they have already invaded is virtually impossible in practical terms (the measures that wipe out earthworms, such as spraying with pesticides, also kill many other species), we can all help protect as-yet uninvaded ecosystems by keeping worms out of such areas. If you use earthworms for composting and live in a region near forests that have not been hit by earthworms, you can help by dropping use of the worms. Also, to avoid spreading earthworm eggs when fertilizing with composted materials, freeze your compost for at least a week before using it—freezing will kill eggs as well as the worms. If you use earthworms for bait fishing, don’t dump leftover worms onto the soil at the end of a day’s fishing. Remove them from the site, or throw them far enough into a pond that they will die before they can reach to shore. When planting new shrubs or trees in your garden or yard, examine any earth ball or potting soil for evidence of worms.
Become a Wildlife Gardener with National Wildlife Federation. It’s free and you’ll get great wildlife gardening tips and learn how to certify your garden as an official habitat.
What Do Worms Eat? A Road Map for What To Feed Your Worms
Along with the choice of bedding for a worm bin, knowing what worms eat and how to choose what to feed them is a pretty consequential decision.
Earthworms will eventually eat any organic material over time to include worm bedding. But the lack of space in home worm composting bins means we have to figure out what worms will want to eat right now or, at least, reasonably quickly.
The list below will detail foods that will be safe additions to any household worm farm, assuming the worms aren’t fed more than 25-33% of their own weight, daily.
We’ll also have a quick discussion at the end of what might be considered the “best” worm food as well as some final thoughts on the choice of worm food.
What Worms Like to Eat
Pumpkins, Squash, Canteloupe and other Curcurbits
These fruits break down very quickly, are high in sugar, and lack the sinewy nature of plants like broccoli, so worms are quick to swarm them in your worm bin.
Spent Coffee Grounds
Some folks express concern over high acidity, but this is only true of unused grounds or the coffee itself in liquid form. The coffee grounds themselves are pH neutral. But they are also sterile immediately after being drenched with scalding water, so I find it takes a few weeks before the worms really move in on them.
Your local coffee shop will be more than willing to give you their spent grounds for free, often rebagging them and setting them out for customers to take, no questions asked.
I also find that coffee grounds can dry a bin out, so keep an eye on moisture if you’re adding quite a bit of them. Oh yeah….toss the filters in too!
I like to lay banana peels flat on the surface of the worm bin (with the skin facing up) and come back a few days later and turn the peel over to find a cluster of worms beneath. This is also fun to do with cantaloupe!
One word of caution though; banana peels are welcome hosts for fruit fly larvae, so if you feed your worms banana peels and find yourself infested, this may be why.
Another common fruit whose waste is perfect for the worm bin! Yeah, yeah, I know the seeds don’t break down, but those can be sifted out later. Apple cores break down quickly, so they’ll be gone in no time!
These are slightly more advanced because they can be harder to procure than regular food waste, but popular manures come from cattle, rabbits, and horses. Some folks use pig manure, but it is so liquidy and harder to handle that it’s probably not worth your time.
As a general rule, you will want to precompost most manures as introducing them to your bin, especially a closed system like a Rubbermaid bin, will result in overheating and a toxic environment for your worms.
I love horse manure as I find it is the least maintenance-intensive; I can put the worms in a mixture of aged and semi-fresh horse manure and pretty much leave them alone. And the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio also allows it to be a serve as a bedding as well as a food, so I don’t find the need to add fresh bedding every time I feed.
Yeah, yeah, this is a pretty huge category, but your worms will take to pretty much any veggie waste you create during meal preparation. Carrot peelings, potato skins, broccoli and cauliflower stalks, lettuce, kale, even onion peels (in limited quantities) are perfect for the worm bin.
Vegetable waste like this isn’t prone to overheating your bin either, so this is another low-maintenance food.
Chicken Mash & Cornmeal
While this food is generally used by people trying to fatten worms for the bait industry, a sprinkling of chicken mash and cornmeal can be an excellent supplement for a worm bin. I have often used a variant of this in my own worm bins when they needed a little something extra.
What is the Best Worm Food?
What is considered “best” is highly dependent upon your reason for vermicomposting in the first place, whether it’s to achieve a zero waste lifestyle at home, to mitigate the removal of animal manures, or to create highly fungal worm castings, etc.
It is far less dependent upon what the worms will visibly swarm upon.
Household Waste: Excellent Worm Food for a Zero Waste Lifestyle
In this case, most any household waste that would otherwise go to the landfill is a great choice. In an urban environment, where conventional composting may not be an option, letting the worms eat a mixture of shredded cardboard and your own household kitchen waste is probably optimal.
It’s less about the quality of the castings, which may still be excellent, and more about recycling food waste, which is the heaviest food waste you produce. This makes vermicomposting a highly effective way to reduce your carbon footprint and contribute to a Zero Waste lifestyle!
Animal Manures: The Perfect Worm Food for Farm Management
If your objective is to manage the manure your animals are producing, then you might not want to waste vermicomposting capacity on household waste.
As large amounts of animal manures should be pre-composted before being fed to the worms, you could always add household waste to the composting manure and end up feeding the resulting, partly-finished compost to the worms. Horse manure has an ideal carbon:nitrogen ratio, but like all animal manures, it should go through a precomposting period where heat is released, mass is reduced, and the manure becomes stable enough to feed the worms.
Woodier inputs to your worm bin can promote beneficial fungal growth
Woodier Waste: The Ideal Worm Food for Fungal Worm Compost
This is an interesting one. We often consider to be good worm food to be the food that worms appear to swarm around; pumpkins, melons, and highly-decomposed veggie waste.
These are typically high-sugar foods, and the worms gather around like kids might around a pile of Twinkies. But bacteria also love foods with high-sugar content, so these foods create conditions where bacteria will proliferate.
To create a more fungal compost, unsexy food like wood chips, decomposing bark, and woodier waste that resembles mulch – and may be even be mulch will provide the carbon sources that fungi can feed upon.
Final Thoughts on What to Feed Your Worms
- One of the most frequently asked questions, especially for new vermicomposters, is “Can I put (insert whatever substance) in my worm bin? The answer is pretty much always “yes, depending on the size of your bin and the amount you plan to feed them.” Toxicity is always a matter of dosage and while introducing battery acid or, more benignly, peanut butter to your worm bin wouldn’t be helpful, it doesn’t have to spell doom for your worms either. (The above answer does not apply for anyone who wants to sell their worm castings.)
- Do you need to blend/grind/puree your food before you feed it to the worms? No, you don’t neeeeeed to do this, but the worms will consume an apple run through a food processor much faster than they will consume an unprepared core.
- Consider freezing organic waste to speed the breakdown and ultimate consumption by the worms. Most fruits and vegetables are 80-90% water and freezing the foods causes this water to expand (as it becomes ice) and rupture the cell walls.
- While I don’t think it’s necessary to add bedding each time I feed, it should always be top of mind. Feeding without adding bedding can lead to an overwet, overheating, and over-acidic bin. Remember: You can easily have too little bedding. You can almost never have too much bedding.
If you’re new to vermicomposting, check out The Ultimate Guide to Vermicomposting, a massive blog post that will cover just about any topic related to vermicomposting for the beginner and beyond!
Feeding Your Worms – worm composting
Your worms will happily consume just about any decomposing food and other organic waste that you feed them. They are big eaters, and will be even more productive the smaller and more broken down the food waste is that you feed them. Worms get their nutrition from the microorganisms they eat, and not particularly from the food waste. Instead of eating the food waste immediately, they wait until lots of tasty microbes have begun to grow on its surface.
DO NOT feed your worms meat, dairy products, processed or fatty foods, which produce an odour when they decompose and cause an environmental imbalance in your worm bins (attracting fruit flies, moisture problems, etc.).
DO feed your worms a rich assortment of the following fruit, vegetable, and organic waste, including:
- Fruit and vegetable peels, rinds and cores
- Egg shells
- Coffee grounds and filters
- Tea bags
- Aged manure from any vegetable-eating animal (rabbits, horses, cows, llamas, etc.) NOTE: Make sure that you do not use manure that contains de-worming medication, which could kill your worms!
Avoid feeding your worms too much citrus at one time, since citrus peels contain a harsh chemical. In small amounts, it is fine to add citrus, but just keep an eye on the amount. Also, avoid feeding your worms any waste that is salty, as salt is harmful to worms.
If you’re just starting out with a new worm bin, it’s important not to over-feed your worms in the beginning. Worms have to wait until the microbial populations slowly accumulate, so feed them lightly during the first few weeks, until they are settled into their new environment.
If you’re purchasing worms locally, you can buy them in buckets containing worms and their host environment. It’s important to remember, however, that natural vermi-composting environments will become very warm places, and worms cannot travel in their bed material over long distances, or stay in containers that do not have sufficient oxygen. As active compost decomposes it heats up and consumes oxygen, which in turn overheats and suffocates the worms. This is why at All Things Organic, we strip away all of the bedding and parent material from the worms we sell before we ship them to our customers to ensure the worms will not heat up during shipping and transport.
When to Feed Your Worms
Your worms and their ecosystem are healthiest when you feed them just enough food. How do you tell how often you should feed your worms? Look in the area where you fed them last. If worms are into the food in large numbers, they are ready to eat again. Don’t wait until they have eaten all of the food waste before feeding next time, as this will result in your worms not having enough nutrition to support a healthy, growing population. Feed them a small handful of food waste at a time, and check them every day or two; when you see them writhing in the last batch of food you fed them, it’s time to feed them another handful.
It’s completely natural that worms avoid the food waste you’ve just added. They will move into the food once the other micro-organisms in the bin have had a chance to begin breaking it down.
The One Spot Rule
At All Things Organic, we recommend you feed the worms in one spot, typically in the centre of your bin. When you purchase your worm bin from All Things Organic, we include additional feeding instructions that expand on our “One Spot Rule” method. Contact us for more information.
Worm Bin Care and Maintenance
So it’s been a few weeks since you first got your bin, and you have fed your worms at least once. How are they doing? Very well, we hope.
Here’s what to look for:
- The bed you set up before you added worms should be mixing and settling, establishing a homey environment for your worm community
- Your worms should start to visit the pocket of food waste you have placed in the bin. If you dig around gently in the area, lifting the food that you’ve placed, you should see worms congregating toward the food source.
You should also see other insects and activity in your bin. Remember, your worm bin will house a complex food web, nourishing life in some of its most elemental forms. When fully balanced and working productively, a worm bin is home to an array of insects and micro-organisms. Not to worry; every single one of those creatures prefers to stay inside the worm bin. If you worms do feel the urge to wander when they first arrive, leave a light on overhead, and they will happily stay put.
The dry shredded paper that you added when you first set up your worm bin should be absorbing some of the moisture from the fruit and veggie waste that you have placed in the centre of the bin. Resist the urge to add water, even if the bin is looking dry. Instead, try running your fruit and veggie waste through a food processor, breaking it down and making it available more quickly to the worms and other micro-organisms. Remember, for best results, feed your worms according to All Things Organic’s One Spot Rule.
The Life of the (Worm Bin) Party
As your new bin becomes established, the number and diversity of organisms living inside will increase. Don’t be alarmed if you see tiny creatures at work in your bin – these creatures – and more that you can’t see – are integral to the composting food web.
The micro-organisms that live inside your worm bin will not attempt to escape, and why should they? They have everything they need inside your worm bin. They need the dampness of the bin, and they need a steady food source, and will not venture out into the sterile and dry territory of your home.
These organisms are not interested in feeding on your house plants — in fact, they’re only capable of consuming decomposing organic matter.
Following are the organisms alive and thriving in your worm bin — the more of them, the healthier your bin and more productive it will be in decomposing your green waste:
- Springtails (Colembola family) White, grey or brown in colour, springtails have six legs, three distinct body segments and two antennae. Their most striking feature is a spring-like organ that they use to catapult them forward.
- Sow or pill bugs (Isopoda), so called because of their tendency to roll up when threatened, sow bugs shred and consume some of the toughest materials, which are high in cellulose and lignins. They have a segmented, armored shell, seven pairs of legs and two antennae.
- Mites (Acarina) are typically the most plentiful and visible inhabitants of a worm bin, feeding on decaying organic matter, fungi and other organisms. They are generally found on the surface amongst the upper layers of the bedding.
- Potworms (Enchytraeidae) or white worms are white, threadlike worms which many people frequently mistake for baby redworms. Don’t be fooled! Baby red wigglers are red and look exactly like their parents. Potworms thrive in moist areas, so the wetter your worm bin, the more white worms you will have. If you see an over-abundance of white worms in your worm bin, the environment is likely too wet. Add paper to absorb excess moisture and lift the bedding in your bin to bring more air into the system.
- Fruit flies (Diptera)! Yes, like them or not, fruit flies are also valid members of your worm bin composting community. These tiny flying insects produce larvae, which are voracious decomposers. Adult fruit flies are attracted to the acids in decomposing vegetative matter.
- Millipedes (Diploda) are long, slow-moving, wormlike animals found in small numbers throughout your worm bin. Millipedes are long and segmented, with two pairs of legs per body segment and two antennae.
- Centipedes (Chilopoda) Centipedes resemble millipedes, although they have only one set of legs on most body segments and a large pair of pincers. Generally reddish, they move fast and are the only worm predator you’re ever likely to ever see in your bin. If you see one, remove it carefully by hand. Careful – they pinch!
- Bacteria are by far the most numerous organisms in your bin, along with molds and fungi. They all feed on decaying organic matter, and produce enzymes that break down and simplify the organic matter.
Tips On Good Worm Bin Care
Worm bins are not difficult to maintain, but if you follow these tips, you should be supporting a healthy, productive composting environment.
Do not add water to your worm bin unless a large part of the bin material is extremely dry to the touch. Some worm bin manufacturers suggest you add water to increase production of “worm tea.” The liquid that drains from your worm bin is actually leachate, and is highly concentrated – in fact, can kill plants if not substantially dilute with water. If you are collecting a lot of “worm tea” your worm bin environment is likely too wet. You should add lots of dry, shredded paper, lifting it into your worm compost to bring additional oxygen into your system.
Lift up the dry shredded paper or bedding every few weeks and gently dig to the bottom of the tray, taking care not to disrupt the worms too much. If the material at the bottom of your tray or bin looks wet and smells a little, these are signs that you need to add air to your system and improve the drainage, so excess fluid has a clear path out of your bin.
Let your nose be your guide. Every time you feed your worms, lift the lid and take a big whiff. Maybe you added green waste that is producing the odor, or maybe your worm bin is becoming anaerobic. Lift up the bedding and underlying material to bring air into the system.
Keep your worm bin in an environment with a fairly constant temperature that is neither too hot nor too cold. Never keep your worm bin in an area that receives direct sun exposure, or in an area that will become colder than 5 degrees Celcius.
If you keep your worm bin outdoors, watch for worm predators. Moles, birds and even some dogs love the taste of worms! Keep your worm bin inside, preferably, if if that inside place is in your garage. As long as the environment is not too cold and not too warm.
Amendments: Is There Anything Else I Should Add?
Some worm composters add amendments to their bins, which contain lime, oyster shells, rock powder and egg shells. These amendments require additional knowledge and understanding of how additive ingredients mix into the worm bin environment; too much of one element can send your bin out of balance.
All Things Organic is developing a new product called Vermi-Booster/ATO Worm Treat, which is an additive food supplement for your worms and worm composting environment. We are in the process of field-testing this new product to ensure it yields maximum results. Stay tuned, and visit us often to learn more about this exciting new product, which will greatly improve productivity in your worm bin.
What is vermicomposting?
Vermicomposting is simply composting with specialty worms known as red wigglers. The worms breakdown food scraps into nutrient rich compost.
What are the benefits of vermicomposting?
- A simple process; very little training is required.
- Low start-up cost. You can often use existing equipment and available space.
- No turning, no unpleasant odours. The worms do all the processing, naturally.
- Can be used indoor year round. Perfect for apartments, condominiums or schools.
- The resulting vermicompost, or worm cast is rich in nutrients. It is more valuable to farmers, landscapers, and home gardeners than raw manure or traditional compost. Worm castings conserves moisture and improves soil conditions. Enhances growth and yields. Your plants, gardens and lawn will love you.
- Reduces dependence on chemical additives. Natural worm castings are safe to use on your lawn and gardens and will not harm your pets or young’un’s.
- Removes organic matter from the waste stream. Household waste can be reduced by up to 40 percent!
Does it smell?
Vermicomposting is an aerobic process which means with oxygen. A properly managed worm bin will not have an offensive odour. If there is a bad odour, it is usually an indication of anaerobic (lack of oxygen) conditions. Often this is the result of over feeding the worms. Having too much food in your worm bin can push the air out. Simply remove any large pieces of food that the worms haven’t go to yet. Gently “fluff” the bedding to increase air circulation. A bad ordour may also occur if the worm bin is too wet.
What is the optimum temperature?
16-28 Celsius (C) or 60-80 Fahrenheit (F).
What about rodents & bugs?
Vermicomposting is usually done indoors, so rodents are not an issue. A properly managed worm bin will not create odours that attract rodents.
How do you control fruit flies?
Fruit flies can be an annoying if not managed properly. Fruit flies are attracted to exposed fruit in a worm bin. The first defense against these critters is to make sure all food stuffs are buried under the bedding. The worms will eat the bedding, so if you are having a hard time burying you food simply add some more shredded paper on top.
If you already have a bad infestation, you can use a vacuum to suck up any flies (be sure to empty vacuum bag right away or the flies will make there way out again). Then remove the top inch or two of the bedding. This will get rid of any fruit fly eggs that have been deposited in you bin.
Here is a great link to a Wiki page on how to get rid of fruit flies:
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How much can worms eat?
Generally speaking, 2 lbs. of red wigglers will recycle 1 lb. of organic matter in 24 hours. Worms can consume their weight daily – they eat half bedding (carbon) and half food scraps (nitrogen).
How do worms reproduce?
Worms are hermaphrodites meaning they have both male & female parts. It still takes 2 worms to mate, both worms produce a cocoon. Each cocoon or egg contains up to 20 babies (average 5 or 6).
How long do worms live?
Worms can live up to 10 years! However, in the wild where there are many predators the average lifespan for a worm is 1 – 2 years.
What if you have too many worms?
Worms will regulate their population to suit the environment (similar to wolves). If there is not enough food, the adults die off to make room for the babies.
If you cut a worm in half, what really happens?
If you cut a worm in half, you have a dead worm cut in half. Worms have 5 hearts located close to the head. If they are cut in half blood cannot get to rest of the body.
Can worms see?
No worms don’t have eyes. However, they are very sensitive to light, and try to hide as soon as they are exposed to light.
Do worms have teeth?
Worms do not have teeth and cannot chew their food. They grind their food in their gizzard using muscle action and small bits of soil.
What do red wiggler worms eat?
If it grew, the worms can likely eat it. Red wigglers eat most things organic including fruit/veggie scraps, bread, coffee grounds/filters, tea bags, grains, plant trimmings, paper, leaves, etc.
What should not be fed to red wigglers?
Avoid pet waste, meat, dairy and extremely hot and heavily spiced foods. Do not feed them metals, foils, plastics, chemicals, oils, solvents, insecticides, soaps, paint, etc.
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How do you feed red wigglers?
Simply pull back the bedding, add chopped up food scraps in the divot. Be sure to cover food scraps with bedding. Bury food scraps in a different location each time.
Do worms need air?
Worms require oxygen to survive. The oxygen is absorbed through their skin. A constant supply of fresh air is needed by the worms. So make sure your worm bin has plenty of air holes.
How to use worm compost/castings?
Castings can be used immediately, or stored for future use. The castings can be added directly or mixed with potting or garden soil as a soil amendment. Castings make nutrients available to plants. Castings can be used as a top dressing for indoor or outdoor plants.
“Compost tea” can be made with castings. Simply add 1-2″ of castings to your watering can or rain barrel. Allow castings and water to “steep” for a day or two, mixing occasionally. Water plants as usual. The resulting “tea” helps make nutrients already in the soil available to plants.
How many worms do you recommend starting out with?
When deciding how many worms to purchase, use the 2:1 ratio. (Two pounds of worms for every pound of kitchen waste produced per day). To determine the amount of worms required, it is recommended that the organic scraps be collected and weighed for a week or two.
What is the bedding material?
Typical bedding materials used are: Shredded paper and cardboard, shredded leaves, peat moss, wood shavings or chips, chopped straw or hay, sawdust (avoid cedar and woods that have been stained or painted). The bedding provides the carbon worms require.
Where do I keep my worm bin?
Any where you wish. Some people keep it in the basement, some prefer the convenience of keeping it in the kitchen. Still others choose a closet. The worms are happy wherever they live. The worms prefer dark and quiet conditions so you may want to avoid bright light, vibration and excessive noise.
Can my worm bin be kept outside?
Yes your worm bin can be kept outside in the Spring, Summer and Fall. However, it must be brought inside for the winter (This applies to Canada and northern United States).
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How do I harvest the vermicompost?
Harvesting the vermicompost can be done several ways, but the most popular two are “Dump and Sort” and “Side to Side Harvesting.”
Dump and Sort is done by first preparing new bedding. Then, the old bin material is turned onto a large sheet of plastic and placed in pyramid shaped piles under a bright light. Since the worms are photosensitive, they burrow away from the light. The top of each pile can be scraped away. Repeat this process until most of the vermicompost has been harvested.
Side to Side Harvesting is accomplished by only feeding the worms on one side of the bin for a few weeks. The worms will all migrate to that side. Then harvest the vermicompost from the unoccupied side of the bin. Put new bedding in the harvested side and feed the worms only on that side for a few weeks. The worms will then migrate to the new side so the remaining vermicompost in the other side can be retrieved.
How often do I harvest the castings?
The vermicomposting process takes three to six months. Two to four times annually. This depends a lot on how much you feed your worms and how many worms you have.
What problems might occur?
Some problems that can occur are odour, fruit flies or other pests, bedding drying out, and water collecting in the bottom of the bin. These problems can be easily avoided. There will be no odour or pests, if food is properly buried. In a plastic bin it is rare that the bedding dries out. If your bin is drying out, simply add non-clorinated water (let tap water sit for 12 – 24 hours before adding to worm bin). If the worm bin is too wet and water has collected at the bottom, use a turkey baster to suck up the excess moister. Add fresh shredded paper.
Can the worms escape?
Yes – However, as long as the conditions are correct in the bedding, the worms will not try to escape. Worms breath through their skin, so if the conditions become too acidic, the worms will burn and may try to escape. Add some agricultural lime or crushed egg shells weekly to avoid acidic bedding. Worms need a moist environment, if they do leave the bin, they will dry out and die right outside the bin, usually within a foot or two.
What if I go away on vacation?
Have a nice trip. The worms can stay home alone for 2-3 weeks. Longer than 3 weeks, they start to get restless, start having wild parties and generally cause havoc in the neighbourhood. If you are going to be away longer than 3 weeks consider a worm sitter.
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Earthworms are tube-shaped, segmented worms that are commonly found in soils. They are one of the most important species in the food chain for both small and medium-sized animals such as fish, birds, and raccoons. They also help in the aeration and breaking down of soil while obtaining food from smaller organisms. Earthworms are generally hermaphrodites, meaning that an individual has both the male and female sex organs. They lack internal skeleton but maintains the body structure coelom chamber filled with fluid and functions as a hydrostatic skeleton. An earthworm has a simple digestive system that runs through its body length.
Earthworms eat a wide range of matter. They are mainly described as omnivores as they feed on both plants and animals. However, some researchers describe them as detrivores, meaning that they eat decaying plants and animals. Earthworms eat small micro-organisms and organic matter and will feed on dead leaves and grass while on the surface of the ground. They also feed on vegetables and berries. While underneath the ground, earthworms feed on fungi, algae, and bacteria. They also eat fungus called mycorrhiza which grows on roots of certain plants. Very few species feed on soil.
Earthworms kept as pets can be fed on kitchen remains such as fruits and vegetables. They should be given meat and dairy products in small quantities and should not be fed on processed food. Worms can eat about their own body weight in food per day. The smaller the food piece is, the easier it is for the earthworm to digest and process it. Importantly, worms will avoid rotting foods since they are oxygen deprived (anaerobic). Earthworms breathe through the skin and anaerobic conditions make it difficult for the worms to breathe.
Digestive System of an Earthworm
The digestive system of an earthworm is a straight tube extending from the mouth to the anus and differentiated into buccal cavity, pharynx, esophagus, intestine, gizzard, and crop. The buccal cavity runs from the mouth to the first two segments while the pharynx runs about four segments in length. Once the food enters the mouth, it is sucked into the pharynx where mucus is secreted by the pharyngeal gland. Food is then moved into the esophagus where calcium is injected into the blood to maintain proper food PH. From esophagus, the food moves into the gizzard and crop. The gizzard grinds the food by the strong muscular contractions. Once the food is properly ground, it continues through the intestine for digestion. The intestine secretes several enzymes including pepsin, amylase, and cellulose used in the digestion of protein, polysaccharide, and cellulose respectively.
Major Benefits of Earthworms
Earthworms play an important role is enhancing soil fertility. They convert large organic matters into rich humus. This is achieved by pulling below the large organic matter and shredding it into pieces while mixing it with soil. Worm feces or cast also contain a lot more hummus than some topsoils. They contain partially digested matters which have a lot of nutrients in them. The burrowing activities of the worms also help in maintaining the soil structure, drainage, and aeration.
Photo: Natfot via , CC0
Earthworms are tube-shaped segmented organisms that fall under the phylum Annelida. Contrary to popular perception, earthworms are not insects or arthropods—they are animals. Earthworms have a widely varied diet and will feed on plants, leaves, fruits, berries, vegetables, fungi, algae and microorganisms.
Earthworm excretions are very rich in nitrogen and phosphates, both of which are good for healthy soil and plant growth. As such, earthworm activity is seen a very beneficial to farmers, and earthworm activity plays an important biological role in the breakdown and cycling of organic material.
Earthworms exist on every continent on the planet except Antarctica, and they are numerous and commonly found wherever they live. The ecological benefits of earthworms have been known for a long time as the Greek philosopher Aristotle called earthworms the “intestines of the Earth.” The naturalist Charles Darwin, in addition to his theory of evolution by natural selection, was well-known for his observations of earthworm behavior, and once wrote that “it may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly organised creatures.”
Phylogenetic analysis suggests that the most recent common ancestor of all living species of earthworm emerged approximately 209 million years ago, meaning that earthworms are about as old as the first mammals and some species of dinosaur. The evolutionary trajectory of earthworms seems to be split amongst two major clades, with a majority of earthworm species falling under one clade in the Lumbricidae and Megascolecoidea families. Earthworms likely spread all over the world via a combination of dispersal between continents due to the activity of other animals and as a result of continental drift over geological ages.
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The typical earthworm grows to be about 14 inches long, but species of earthworm range from a minuscule 10mm long to a whopping 10 ft long (Amynthas mekongianus). The earthworm body is segmented with about 50-150 individual segments (called metamerisms) on its body. Pores situated along these segments secrete a slippery fluid that decreases friction and allows the worm to breathe.
Each segment of the body, except for the mouth and tail, are lined with tiny bristles called setae that the worms use to grasp and anchor its body during movement. Earthworm’s move through the tightly synchronized motion of two pairs of muscles along the body. One pair situated laterally will contract to squeeze and lengthen each segment. then another pair situated longitudinally will contract to pull and contract each segment, pulling the worm along the ground. The speed at which an earthworm moves is heavily dependent on the species and surface. Some earthworms can move relatively quickly and could cover over 70 meters in an hour while others move at a leisurely pace of 7 meters an hour.
A diagram showing the internal structure of an earthworm. Credit: KDS4444/Wikipedia, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
Despite their simple appearance, earthworms have complex internal anatomy with several well-defined organ systems. Unlike many invertebrates, earthworms have a closed circulatory system, complete with well-defined vessels and even 5 pairs heart-like organs known as the aortic arches. The aortic arches located about halfway up the body, placed around the central body cavity known as the coelom. The aortic arches play the same functional role as the heart in humans; their contractions pump blood, fluid, and waste through the body. So in a sense, an earthworm actually has 5 pairs or 10 individual hearts! In total, earthworms have 5 major vessels each of which carries fluids to and from important parts of the body.
Earthworms have a central nervous system composed of a central brain and a ventral nerve cord analogous to a spinal cord in vertebrates. The earthworm brain is a small pear-shaped pair of cerebral ganglia that is located between the third and fourth segment from the mouth. The arrangement of the brain and subpharyngeal ganglia forms a circle around the pharynx. The CNS is what controls the motion, respiration, and digestion of the worm.
The earthworm CNS feeds into the organism’s peripheral nervous system, which consists of various nerve endings that serve to connect distal areas of the body to the brain. The PNS is composed of 8 to 10 individual nerves that stem directly from the brain along with 3 pairs of nerves that stem from the subpharyngeal ganglia. The peripheral nervous system allows the worm to respond to heat and pressure. Earthworms are thigmotactic, meaning that they respond to contact and touch, so the PNS mediates an important sensory modality.
Earthworms do not have any specialized respiratory organ like lungs. Instead, they breathe via the exchange of gas through their skin. Atmospheric oxygen will diffuse across the earthworm’s skin and enter the blood vessels, while carbon dioxide and other gaseous waste products diffuse out of the blood int the environment. The fluid secreted on the skin of an earthworm helps facilitate this diffusion and a lack of this moisture can prevent diffusion and suffocate the earthworm.
Unlike the tightly coiled intestines of humans, the gastrointestinal tract of an earthworm is just a straight line that runs the length of the body from mouth to anus. food entering the mouth is drawn into the esophagus by the contractions of the pharynx, where calcium is pumped in to regulate pH levels. Further, in the intestines, strong muscles of the coelom grind the food up and various enzymes are secreted by the intestinal wall to break down sugars, fats, and cellulose. Several folds of intestinal tract line the walls to increase the surface area and thus nutritive absorption of the digestive tract.
All earthworms share the same general body plan and lifecycle, but several have unique physical traits or behaviors that distinguish them from others. For instance, some earthworms are bioluminescent and will glow in the dark, some are capable of climbing up sheer rock surfaces, and others are bright and exotically colored.
Depending on the species, earthworm life expectancy can differ. Most common garden species only live for 1 to 2 year while heartier species can live an estimated 6 years. Earthworms do not go through distinct stages of specific development. A newborn earthworm is morphologically similar to an adult earthworm except they lack sex organs. Newborn earthworms develop their reproductive organs 60 to 90 days after hatching.
All earthworms are hermaphroditic meaning that they possess both male and female sexual organs (ova and testes). Copulation and reproduction are actually two separate processes for earthworms. During copulation, each earthworm will overlap their front ends ventrally and exchange sperm. Each worm will store the other’s sperm until the time comes for them to fertilize their eggs. As an earthworm reaches sexual maturity, their clitellum will swell and change color to become very pinkish red. After copulation, the clitellum will secrete mucus that forms a ring around the worm’s body. The earthworm will back out of the ring, injecting its own eggs and the other worm’s sperm to create an onion shaped cocoon that incubates the worm embryos.
Incidentally, many species of earthworm are parthenogenetic, meaning that they can stimulate the growth of new embryos from eggs without fertilization. In the absence of mating partners, worms will undergo parthenogenesis to reproduce, creating an identical female clone. Most species of earthworm capable of parthenogenesis are also capable of sexual reproduction.
Ecology Of Earthworms
Earthworms play many vital roles in ecosystems as they are one of the main mechanisms by which organic matter is broken down and reintroduced into the soil.
Earthworms subsist on a diet of decaying organic matter, including fruits, vegetables, leaves, plant matter, and animal excrement. While burrowing, earthworms in the soil ingest minute sand and rock particles, that grind the organic material in the worm’s stomach into a fine paste which is then excreted in the soil. The grinding of the soil into a paste release the constituent minerals and nutrient into an accessible form that plants can use. Soil that has been treated with earthworms has been shown to have up to 5 times more nitrogen, 7 more phosphates, and 11 times of potassium than non-earthworm treated soil.
Additionally, the burrowing action of earthworms serves to aerate and drain soil. Earthworm burrows create crisscrossing channels through the ground that give air and water a way to be spread and drain out of the soil. The burrowing activity of earthworms has been likened to the action to a piston that pumps air into an engine.
The soil benefits of earthworms are so well-known that entire industries exist for the purpose of raising earthworms for agricultural use. It is estimated that each square meter of arable soil contains anywhere from 62 worms for poor soil to 432 worms for rich soil. The sustainability of earthworm activity has made them a favorite amongst permaculture enthusiasts.
Earthworms are also an important source of food in ecosystems. They serve as prey for animals of pretty much every major class of land-dwelling animals such as birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and arthropods. In many countries, earthworms are regularly consumed by humans and are even considered a delicacy in some places.
Was this article helpful? 😊 ☹️ That’s great to hear! Want more Science Trends? Sign up for our science newsletter! We’re sorry to hear that! We love feedback 🙂 and want your input on how to make Science Trends even better.What do worms eat? Start with fruit and vegetable scraps.
Getting the basics right of what to feed worms is vital to the success of a worm farm. This also includes what food is added, the quantity, preparation and placement in the bin. And if you do make a mistake, several worm farm problems such as a bad smell or a toxic environment can arise. So what do worms eat? Worms will eat anything organic. However, there are some foods you should avoid.
What Do Worms Eat – The Basics
Worms thrive on a balanced diet and prefer to eat their food as it begins to decompose. Keep a balance of green and brown foods.
Feed your worms fresh fruit and vegetable scraps. Limit foods high in acidity. Worms also don’t like strong flavors, such as citrus, garlic and onion. Be careful that fruit has no insecticides on it as this can kill your worms
Eggs shells give worms grit to break down foods and also helps to neutralize the pH levels in the bin.
Add egg shells. This helps to neutralize the pH levels in your worm bin. You can also add agricultural lime if needed. Egg shells are high in calcium as well which is beneficial to the worm farm. Feeding worms a lot of fruit will increase the acidity in the bin due to its the high sugar content.
Shredded newspaper makes excellent worm farm bedding material
Add carbon for bedding including shredded paper, egg cartons and cardboard. When in doubt, add more paper. Paper and cardboard should be shredded and soaked in water first.
Avoid feeding worms meat, dairy, and oils. While worms will eat meat and dairy products, these foods will create a bad odor and attract pests.
Don’t offer salty or spicy foods, or foods with preservatives. Worms breathe through their skin, and certain food can irritate that process
Add grains and grain products in moderation. Grains should be ground up before adding into the worm bin. Be careful not to add too much as grain may attract rodents.
The Ultimate Worm Farm Guide for Beginners
Are you thinking about starting a worm farm? This guide will teach you everything you need to know about how to start a worm farm.
Worm Farm Food List
Here’s a list of what to feed worms, and what not to feed worms:
Add dry garden leaves into your worm bin.
What do worms eat? Add:
- Kitchen greens and vegetable scrapings
- Potato and other vegetable peels
- All fruit
- Crushed egg shells
- Shredded paper and cardboard
- Hair and nail clippings
- Cotton rags
- Grain and grain products
- Tea bags and coffee grounds
- Moldy bread
- Horse and cow manure, this is the worms natural diet and they thrive on it
Do not add (or avoid):
- Meats, bones, fat and anything oily or greasy – but natural oils (e.g. avocado) are fine
- Dairy products including butter, sour cream, milk, whole eggs (egg shells are OK) and cheese
- Canned sauces, peanut butter and other processed food
- Citrus foods like lemons, limes and oranges
- Pineapple contains an enzyme that will kill your worms
- Onions and garlic – although onion skins are OK in moderation
- Spicy foods such as hot peppers
- Yard trimmings treated with pesticides
- Plastic, metals, glass or other non-biodegradable items
- Paper that has a glossy finish or colored ink
- Poison ivy, oak or sumac or other poisonous plants
List of Bad Foods for Composting Worms
Here’s a list of foods to avoid when feeding worms:
|Grease and oils||
|Onions and garlic||
|Pineapple & Papaya (Pawpaw)||
|Rice and pasta||
Some bad foods such as bread are OK to feed to worms in small quantities, as long as you’re adding a relative amount of good foods as well. Moreover if you’re unsure about whether you should add specific food source, then always leave it out.
Be aware of the water content of foods that you add into the worm bin. Cantaloupe for example is 90% water.
Worms eat about half of their body weight each day. However, when starting a new bin, this rarely happens straight away as they need some time to settle in. Your worms may take a week or two to adapt to the new environment, so don’t expect them to be 100% productive.
1000 worms is approximately 1 pound or 500 grams in weight. So if you have 1000 worms, you would need to feed them half of this weight each day (i.e. 1/2 a pound or 250 grams each day). Also be aware that worm populations will increase under favorable conditions given sufficient food supply and space. In very general terms, a Red worm population can double in number approx every 60 to 90 days.
Feed your worms once their last meal is nearly gone. Overfeeding worms is the single biggest cause of problems in a worm bin. If the bin contains too much food, the food scraps will begin to rot before the worms can digest them. In addition, this can lead to a toxic environment. It is better to underfeed your worms than overfeed them.
Rotate feeding worms in different sections. This is also called pocket feeding.
One way to prevent overfeeding worms is to add food scraps in small amounts and in one place at a time. Some people like to alternate sides when adding food scraps into the worm bin. Or they rotate adding food to different sections in the bin. For example, add food scraps to section 1, then a few days later repeat and add food scraps to section 2 and so on.
You should also consider the water content of foods that you add. Feeding too many high moisture foods such as zucchini and watermelon can cause a worm bin to become too moist.
Worms like to eat foods just as it begins to decompose. The rate of decomposition of organic materials is greatly influenced by carbon and nitrogen. For worm composting, conditions are generally ideal with a carbon-to-nitrogen (C:N) ratio of between 20:1 and 35:1.
Materials high in carbon (C:N ratio greater than 30:1) are categorized as browns because they are dry. And nitrogen rich materials are categorized as greens because they are fresh and moist (C:N ratio less than 30:1).
If you add equal amounts of greens and browns into the bin, then the C:N ratio should take care of itself. So it’s a good idea to have a basic understanding of what is a green or brown when adding food into the bin.
Wood chips have a C:N ratio of approx. 400:1 Source: daviddomoney.com
Here’s some estimated C:N ratios of various worm food sources:
- Garden waste 25:1
- Vegetable scraps 12:1
- Food scraps 15:1
- Manures 15:1
- Fruits 25-40:1
- Coffee grounds 20:1
- Grass clippings 20:1
- Fruit waste (e.g. banana skin) 35:1
- Peat moss 58:1
- Leaves 60:1
- Straw 75:1
- Shredded newspaper 175:1
- Wood chips 400:1
- Shredded cardboard 350:1
- Sawdust 325:1
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. So it’s good to cut up your food scraps into small pieces so that they can digest it faster.
There are a couple of other ways you can prepare food and make it easier for worms to consume. You can puree, grate, freeze, or microwave food scraps to help break down the material. And remember to make sure that food has returned to room temperature before adding it to your worm bin.
Cover new food scraps with a mix of bedding and paper or use worm blanket. This keeps it dark and moist, encouraging the worms to come up to the surface and feed. This will also discourage pests such as fruit flies.
Outdoor Compost Bin
Having both an outdoor compost bin and a worm farm work well together. For instance it’s better to add less preferable foods (e.g. harder and more acidic) into an outdoor compost bin rather than in a worm bin. And if you have more food waste than the worms can handle, then topping up the outdoor compost bin is a great option.