What composting worms can and can’t eat

Looking at starting your own worm farm but not sure how to keep your composting worms happy? We’ve found the best and the worst foods for your worms. 

Words Lara Wyatt

They’re doing us a big favour by nibbling our food scraps so they don’t go and take up room in landfill. The least we can do is ensure we’re feeding our composting worms things that will make them happy.  

What composting worms can eat 

Composting worms like soft food. The softer the better. Things like vegetable scraps, especially squashes, and non-citrus fruits are fine for composting worms. They’re also very fond of sweet foods like watermelon rinds.  

You can also put ground egg shells, coffee grinds, dryer lint, paper towels, small amounts of pet hair, tea bags (if they’re made of paper) and fresh or dry lawn clippings into your worm compost system.  

It’s important to monitor what’s going on in your compost bin and not just keep throwing more and more waste in on top of your worms. This will make sure the environment that your worms are living in remains ideal and not too dry or acidic. 

What composting worms can’t eat 

Now that you know what you can feed your worms, here’s some no-nos for your composting system. Avoid giving your worms too much citrus. This can burn them. They also don’t like too much onion, garlic or bread.  

Don’t put meat or dairy products in with your worms — there are other composting systems like bokashi that work for meat products. Cooked and spicy foods are also best to be avoided. The worms don’t like many of the herbs and spices used in lots of cooked dishes. Similarly, liquids and oils are things to avoid. 

Now that you know what you can and can’t feed your worms, here are a few handy tips to keep your worms even happier. 

  • Take a lot of the effort out of your worms’ eating experience and cut your food scraps into small pieces. As small as you can is best. It’s easier for the worms and it’ll also help the food break down faster.  
  • Bury the food scraps. The worms aren’t often hanging out on the surface of the compost, so digging a little and burying the food scraps is a great idea. 
  • Keep the worms’ bedding fluffed up. Don’t let it get too dry and keep it fluffed so there’s plenty of air circulating for your worms. 
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