Upon passing out my card I’m often greeted with the comment “I had some worms once but they all died”.
“Was it something I fed them?”
There may have been other reasons why the worms died but my intention here is to summarise their dietary likes and dislikes.
Tiger worms (Eisenia fetida) also known as compost worms, manure worms, or red wiggler prefer a diet of 70% fruit and vegetables with the remaining 30% made up of carbon (eg. cardboard, paper, paper towels, egg carton etc)
Aged grass clipping and leaves in moderation.
Crushed egg shells.
Aged animal manures ( eg. horse, cow, sheep and rabbit)
Fruit (not citrus)
Vegetable waste from kitchen and garden (avoid material that may have residues from chemical sprays)
# Shredded paper and card board (non glossy)
# Paper towels.
# Toilet roll centres.
# Egg cartons.
# Vacuum dust.
# Note … these items should be soaked in water and then wrung out prior to being used.
Chopping food and other waste into smaller pieces helps to speed up the decomposition process.
Worms don’t like:
Fresh grass clippings produce too much heat and will cook your worms.
Bread & pasta (in smaller stacker type worm farms)
Chicken manure as it’s to potent.
Kiwi fruit (in excess)
Meat and fish.
Spicy or acidic foods.
Garlic, chili & onions.
Large amounts of cooked food.
Processed food that may have salt and other additives.
Glossy paper or cardboard.
Perfumed or chemically treated tissues.
Treated wood shavings or sawdust.
Pet faeces (risk transfer of disease, better to be safe than sorry)
Feed worms once a week taking care not to over feed as uneaten food will only rot, smell and attract flies.
Adding a handful of garden lime (calcium carbonate) every 3 to 4 weeks will help to maintain a neutral pH level, lower acidity and sweeten the whole mixture. Aerating the contents within your worm farm every month or so also ensures adequate air circulation and reduces bedding compaction.
Ten digits in some rubber gloves is the most effective method as there’s no risk of harming the worms and if you have one damaging the weed mat that lines the inside of a bath tub worm farm.
Worms need air but not light as they are photo phobic.
You can’t go wrong if you treat your worms in the same manner as the politicians treat their constituents “keep em in the dark”.
Finally covering food scraps with dampened newspaper, sacking or old carpet encourages worms to the surface to feed on decomposing matter. This also means that both the bedding and food remain moist and in the dark, just as the worms like it.
If you’re thinking starting a worm farm our Garden Shop is a great place to check out your options.
Interesting worm facts.
Best temperature range for compost worms is 15°C to 25°C.