Gardening With Red Worms


If you want an easy way to add compost to your garden, try gardening with red worms, otherwise known as worm composting or vermicomposting. The advantages of worm composting include not needing to build a compost structure in your backyard and avoiding the physical work of turning a compost pile.

Step 1

Weigh your fruit and vegetable table scraps for one week. Each pound of scraps needs one square foot of surface area, so factor that in when you purchase or make a bin for worm composting. The bin needs a depth of 8 to 12 inches. When deciding on a bin, keep in mind that wood absorbs moisture which helps to keep the temperature constant and the moisture at ideal levels. Check that the wood hasn't been chemically treated before purchasing. If you use a plastic bin, know that plastic doesn't breathe like wood and you'll have to monitor the moisture level.

Step 2

Find a place to put the worm bin. Worms need a dark, moist environment and good air circulation and temperatures between 55 and 75 degrees F.

Step 3

Purchase red wiggler worms from the Internet (see Resources), gardening catalogs, worm farms or ads in garden magazines. You'll need approximately 500 worms per cubic foot of bin space. Order the worms on the Internet for fastest delivery.

Step 4

Decide on your bedding materials--newspapers, straw, leaves--and soak in water for 24 hours. Squeeze the excess moisture from the material, fluff it up and fill about two-thirds of the bin with bedding. The bedding needs to settle for several days before adding the worms.

Step 5

Add the worms and food scraps to the compost bin bedding. Add extra bedding to the top of the red worms to give them the dark environment they like. The worms will now begin their work of breaking refuse down into compost for the garden. Add the compost to the garden as it becomes available.

Tips and Warnings

  • Pets and small children may get into the worm bin so keep it securely shut and out of their range of play.

Things You'll Need

  • Red wiggler worms
  • Worm composting bin
  • Shredded newspapers
  • Printer paper
  • Cardboard
  • Leaves
  • Straw


  • University of Missourri Extension: Worm Composting

Who Can Help

  • Buy red wiggler worms online
Keywords: gardening with worms, composting with worms, red wiggler worms

About this Author

Brenda Reeves started writing in 1979. Specializing in gardening topics, her articles appear on numerous Web sites, including eHow. Reeves has a Bachelor of Arts in English and creative writing from California State University, Northridge.