How Much Can I Feed My Composting Worms?
How much can I feed my composting worms? Feeding composting worms is really simple. Unfortunately, there is so much confusing information online about how much composting worms can eat. One of the first things I remember reading was that they can eat their weight in food scraps each day. Then I saw on another website that they can eat half their weight each day in food scraps. So what is the real truth? The quantity composting worms can eat varies greatly and is affected by several factors, food type, environmental conditions, and bin conditions.
Some foods contain a lot of water like melons and worms can eat their weight each day if not more. Some foods take longer to break down and start to rot, and it takes worms much longer to process these foods. Worms also eat their bedding which is usually not going to break down as fast as some foods but will be processed faster than others.
Worms have an ideal temperature range at which they eat and reproduce quicker. If the temperature is below or above that ideal range the rate at which they process food and bedding decreases. If we want them to process food quickly we will have to maintain that optimal temperature range. The Red Wiggler and European Nightcrawler’s optimal range is approximately 60-80 degrees F. The tropical composting worms such as the African Nightcrawler’s optimal temperature range is 70-85 degrees F.
There are several factors in the worm bin that can have a significant effect on how much I can feed my composting worms. If the aeration is very good as with a CFT (Continuous Flow Through) bin, which may be the most efficient of all for vermicompost production then processing the food waste will be very fast. Stacking systems can also work very good if they have good ventilation holes. Plastic bins with the lids on and holes drilled for air are usually the worst for air flow but can be improved quite a bit if the lids are left off and they are not allowed to get too deep.
Maintaining the correct moisture content is also crucial. Too much moisture decreases aeration of the worm habitat. Too little moisture decreases the worm’s ability to breath since they breathe through their skin.
An acidic worm bin also negatively affects the worm’s ability to process food as quickly. There are some foods that are much more acidic or have high ammonia content that can create severe problems and can even kill the worms. But this is usually a consequence more than a problem. When we feed the worms more food than they can process under the given conditions it will cause the worm bin to become acidic.
The Easy Solution
First, make sure they have plenty of good bedding. Then, in the beginning only feed them about 1/4 of their body weight in food scraps. In a few days check and see if it is gone. If it is, feed them a little more, if not feed them less. Whether you feed them every few days or only once a week, base the amount you feed them on how fast they have been eating up to that point. If you increase the amount incrementally you will never feed too much and you will find the optimal amount based on the conditions you are providing.
As you can see it really is simple. With a little knowledge, common sense, and some patience you will have answered for yourself “How much can I feed my composting worms?” If you are looking at getting some composting worms and being more responsible with your food waste we have the composting systems and worms to help you get started, just check out our products here.