How fast do worms eat compost?

how fast do worms eat compostThere are a lot of factors that will influence how quickly your worms eat compost, like the moisture level of the bin, the temperature around the bin and what you are feeding the worms. But if you are wondering the ever popular question, “How fast do worms eat compost?” I’ve got some answers for you.

In an ideal environment when worms are reproducing at their best, they can be fed up to half of their body weight per day. So if you have about 2,000 worms that weigh around 2 pounds (which is a fair estimate), you’ll be able to feed them one pound of compost per day.

But in order for them to really be able to break down food as quickly as possible, you’ll need to make sure that the food is in small pieces, non-greasy and that everything else in the system is balanced. The reason for this is that smaller pieces allow for more surface area for bacteria to start breaking down the food, making it a lot easier for the worms to consume them.

Some people like to run their food scraps through a blender, but in most cases that’s not really necessary. As long as you’re not trying to throw an entire head of lettuce into the bin at once and expecting the worms to gobble it up in an afternoon, you won’t be disappointed.

Compost worms can feed on almost anything organic, like vegetable scraps, fruit scraps, fruit peels (although you should take it easy with citrus), vegetable peels, bread, grains, tea bags, non-greasy leftovers, coffee grounds and filters, crushed egg shells, napkins, paper towels, and cardboard, to name a few.

Manures, on the other hand, are the most commonly used feedstock for larger scale vermiculturists and vermicomposters. Rabbit and poultry manures are two of the most favorable manures for use with compost worms. But you can feed everything from cow to horse to even pig manure, although the latter one really needs to have a lot of the moisture removed before it’s suitable for your worms.

Foods may contain too much nitrogen which can result in overheating in the beds. Aside from organ meats, seafood, yeast and alcoholic beverages, foods high in purines (nitrogen-containing molecules) include beans, peas, lentils, oatmeal, spinach, cauliflower and mushrooms. You also need to be careful with fatty wastes which can create anaerobic conditions, odors and attract pests, too. So any questionable foods should be pre-composted before use.

Pre –composted food wastes contain less nutrition than fresh food wastes but are still good for the worms. Partial decomposition makes digestion easier and faster with less tendency of overheating.

how fast do worms eat compostIf you’re looking for a way to judge how fast do worms eat compost from your own bins, trying feeding with a quadrant method. Add food to quadrant one, then let the worms go to work on it. As you add more food to quadrant two, check back on quadrant one to make sure they have eaten most of the food and take note of what they are not eating. Proceed around the worm bin, switching to a new quadrant each time you add food.

Another thing to remember is that it is usually advisable to put a layer of shredded black and white newspaper over the food, especially when the food is composed mostly of fruits, vegetables and the like. Or to dig the food down into the bed and make sure it’s covered up with bedding. This is so that it will keep the bins stay dark and moist, discouraging fruit flies.

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