Feed your worms.

Rule of thumb: Worms can eat half of their body weight in a day, so a pound of worms can process ½ lb. food scraps every day.  This generally holds true for a well-established bin, so start small and slow until you get there. Overfeeding is a common mistake. Pull back a small amount of bedding, and bury food at least 1-2” deep. Adding a small amount of bedding with each feeding is also recommended. Covering food will help prevent fruit flies. Food may be chopped or blended to increase surface area, causing it to degrade faster. Wait until the food is almost gone before adding more. This can be done daily or weekly, depending on your worm population. You will begin to understand their feeding patterns and preferences as you observe your worms.  What you feed your worms is critical to their health. Stick with non-acidic fruits and vegetables and avoid meat, dairy and oily food.

Mist your bin.

Using a spray bottle, you can gently mist your bin to maintain a moisture level of roughly 80%.  The bedding should feel moist but not dripping water when you squeeze it. If your worm bin is too wet, simply add and mix dry bedding and avoid feeding them foods with high water content. You can also add toilet paper rolls, which provide great bedding and airflow. 

Harvest your bin.

A healthy worm bin is generally ready for harvesting after a few months. Your bottom layers should be vermicompost, with a deep, rich color and uniform texture. Another sign that it’s time to harvest is that worm production slows down and you will see fewer cocoons. The size of the worms themselves will tell you. The biomass of the worms will shrink, telling you they need fresh bedding and food. Depending on the type of bin you have, harvesting is done using several methods. Stacked or vertical bins are harvested by simply adding a freshly bedded bin to the top and letting the worms migrate up, leaving a bin of compost behind. Horizontal bins can be harvested by simply feeding the worms on one side and waiting a few days until they migrate over, then scooping out the finished vermicompost from the other side. See “Harvesting your Worm Bin” for additional information.