Convert your food scraps into nutrient-packed compost with Red Wiggler Worms. They’re fast, efficient and odorless!
About the Composting Worm
Scientific names for composting worms are: Eisenia fetida, Eisenia andrei, and Lumbricus rubellus. Common names for composting worms are: Red worms, red wigglers, manure worms, red hybrid and tiger worms. Do not use Earthworms or Night Crawlers.
How do worms move? Their bodies are made up of hundreds of small rings called Segments. They move by manipulating each segment with tiny circular muscles beneath their skin. They secrete a slippery fluid that let’s them move easily through the earth.
Moisture: Worms’s breathe through their skin, which needs to be moist, but too much moisture can drown a worm.
How do worms mate? Worms are Hermaphrodites, which means that each worm has both male and female sex organs. Red wiggler worm eggs, called cocoons hold 3-4 eggs which hatch between 32 & 73 days depending upon the temperature and humidity. The baby worms mature between 8-10 weeks. Once mature a red wiggler can lay 2-3 cocoons for six months of the year.
Building the Worm Bin
How many worms do you need? For every pound of kitchen waste, you’ll need two pounds of worms. Worms are usually sold by the pound and one pound equals 500 worms. One pound of us can eat 50 pounds of your kitchen waste in just about 90 days. A red wiggler can consume about ½ of its body weight each day.
What do worms need to live? Their worm bin should be a dark color.
What size worm bin do you need? That would depend upon how much kitchen wastes you produce in one week. Collect it for 7 days, weight it and divide your total by 7.
Ventilation: Worms need an oxygen rich environment. Place your bin in a well ventilated area such as a laundry room, garage, and balcony, under your kitchen sink or outside in the shade.
Temperature: Going over or below the required temperature is crucial to the worms survival. Their bin should always be located in an area that is between 60 & 80 degrees Fahrenheit or 16 & 28 Celsius.
Acidity: They can tolerate a pH Level between 6.4 & 6.9. Should you notice that they are climbing to the top of their bin, it means that the acidity is too high.
Feeding Your Worms
Worms love to eat:
- Breads & grains
- coffee grounds and filters
- Tea bags
- Hair Clippings
- Crushed eggs shells
- Egg cartons
Worms hate to eat:
- Dairy Products
- Meats & Bones
- Oily Foods
- Pet & Human Feces
- Spicy Hot Foods
- Non-biodegradable foods
- Fatty foods
- Acidic foods: grapefruit, lemon or orange peels
Maintaining your worm bin
Bury your kitchen waste 1-2 times a week. Start in a corner and work towards the opposite corner as you bury the waste. Always bury your kitchen waste near the top of the bedding and cover it with an inch of bedding. Worms feed from the bottom up.
Be sure to check for an excess of water build up. Excessive water can be drained or absorbed by adding dry bedding. A lack of oxygen or appropriate ventilation and air movement throughout the bin can cause foul orders. Usually adding fresh bedding material will take care of the problem.
Harvesting your compost
On average you’ll need to harvest the compost worm bin every three months. The easiest way to do this is to simply dump and sort.
Lay out a small tarp large enough to separate the worm castings into a couple of small piles. Be sure to keep the tarp under direct sunlight and give the worms some time to work their way down to the bottom of the piles. Remember that they are light sensitive. This will give you an opportunity to gently sift through the top 2/3rds of the soil without grabbing handfuls of worms, soil and castings as you collect and separate the fresh compost from the red wiggler worms. Be sure to place the worms back into their freshly cleaned bin as quickly as possible, with new bedding and some kitchen waste to get them going again.
For additional detailed information see also OSU Extension Publication #9034 ‘ Composting with Worms’.
Tillamook County Master Gardener Association
4506 Third Street
Tillamook, OR 97141
OSU Extension, Tillamook County
4506 Third Street
Tillamook, OR 97141
The following University Extensions were used in researching information for this publication:
North Carolina State Univ. http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/
Washington State Univ. http://ext.wsu.edu/
Ohio State Univ. http://extension.osu.edu/
Pennsylvania State Univ. http://extension.psu.edu/
Oklahoma State Univ. http://www.oces.okstate.edu/
Univ. of Arkansas http://www.uaex.edu/