How to Compost Earthworms

Overview

Composting reduces organic waste into a rich soil amendment. Accelerate the decomposition of the waste by using worms during the composting process. Worms quickly eat away at leaves, vegetable scraps and other material to help reduce waste faster, and they assist in creating a more nutritious end result, according to the University of Hawaii. The resulting product can improve the health and lush beauty of your outdoor garden or houseplant collection.

Step 1

Choose a worm composting container. Though commercially manufactured bins made specifically for worms are available, a simple plastic container will work just as well, according to the University of Hawaii. Because worms are surface animals, the University of Nebraska recommends a maximum container depth of 12 inches.

Step 2

Drill a dozen half-inch-wide holes in the bottom of the bin. This provides aeration and drainage for the worms and their bedding material, according to the University of Nebraska.

Step 3

Fill the container two-thirds full of worm bedding. Bedding material include shredded paper and shredded corrugated cardboard.

Step 4

Sprinkle water on the bedding and mix it with your hand so that all of the material is evenly moist to the touch. You want the bedding to feel like a wet sponge, but it shouldn't be so wet that it's dripping water.

Step 5

Release worms onto the surface of the bedding. They'll immediately burrow into the moist material. The number of worms you need varies according to how much organic matter you want to process. Most home composters typically use approximately a pound of earthworms, which amounts to 1,000 worms, according to North Carolina State University. A pound of worms will eat a half pound of organic matter daily, according to the University of Nebraska.

Step 6

Add worm food. Spread one to two cups of food onto the surface of the worm bedding in a thin layer, according to the University of Hawaii. The University of Nebraska recommends all fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags and other organic matter except for meats and fats.

Step 7

Keep the worm bin at a temperature ranging between 59 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit, according to North Carolina State University. Worms are most active at this temperature.

Step 8

Mist the worm bin every day, or as needed, to keep the bedding moist. If you allow the bedding to dry out, the worms will become dehydrated and die.

Step 9

Feed the worms again two weeks after the first feed, according to the University of Nebraska, then again on an as-needed basis once they work through the food you add.

Step 10

Harvest the compost. Over the course of several months, the worms will reduce all the food and bedding into a dark and crumbly soil-like material. Remove the worms, either by hand or by using a sifter, and use the compost in your garden as a nutrient-rich soil amendment. Refill the bin with bedding and food, and release your worms in the bin to repeat the process.

Things You'll Need

  • Worm bin
  • Drill
  • Worm bedding
  • Worms
  • Organic waste
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Sifter (optional)

References

  • "The Worm Book: The Complete Guide to Gardening and Composting with Worms"; Loren Nancarrow and Janet Taylor; 1998
  • University of Nebraska: Composting with Worms
  • University of Hawaii: Small-Scale Vermicomposting
  • North Carolina State University: Vermicomposting

Who Can Help

  • North Carolina State University: State Vermiculture Directory
Keywords: composting with worms, worm composting, starting vermicompost

About this Author

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.