How Much to Feed Worms? (Red Wigglers)

KendraSchmidtOctober 1, 2012

I currently have three worm bins filled with red wigglers.

I would like to soon be able to harvest three to four pounds of compost from the bins.

I feed my worms what I eat, mostly bananas, peppers, gumbo (okra), and celery trimmings. I dice everything up and feed them quite tiny to my red wigglers.

I would like to ask:

1) How many worms (red wigglers) should I have to be able to harvest three to four pounds of compost in normal, indoor conditions (e.g. not cold weather).


2) How much food should I feed, roughly, to the worms each week to be able to harvest three to four pounds of vermicompost?

Maybe a better way of asking this question is, considering the above stated food products, and imagining the worms are in one large bin, how many pounds of food (roughly, just an estimate) would be needed to be able to harvest 3 - 4 lbs of vermicompost. And how many worms should I have to accomplish this?

Please help. :o( Thanks GW'rs.

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Okay, so I was thinking about this question, and see that if a worm can digest half his body weight per day, and I have 2 lbs of worms, (hypothetically), that means that the worms would eat 1 lbs of worms (hypothetically) every day.

So then my question would be how much does the worm "poop" out? If the worm devours one 1 pound of food, for example, how much of that 1 pound is excreted?

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 5:34PM
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Worms excrete pretty much all they take in - a tiny tiny bit of it may go to making the worm bigger, but there's nowhere else for it to go.

A given particle of food may be processed by worms several times, though.

Some weight will also be lost to evaporation. I assume you are including and leachate (worm tea) in the total output.

Once you get up to steady-state production, you are pretty much by definition taking out as much as you are putting in, over any long period.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 6:21PM
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""a worm can digest half his body weight per day""
I haven't heard of anybody achieving this; not even close. It is also not clear how or what is weighted as worm food. Kitchen scrap is mostly water. Previously frozen, when thawed, I squeezed out the water from it so there's more solids in the worm food. Then there are people who include UCG and that's mostly solid.
From my 9 (or is it 10) gal. RM bins with 1.5 lb of worms I got around 4.5 gal VC every 4 months. Feeding is roughly 1 to 1.5 lb. every 3 or 4 days.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 2:10AM
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they roughly eat about half their body weight so for example you got 1 pound of worms they will consume about half a pound in body weight per day. again this is ROUGHLY.. not accurate. to be harvesting 3-4 pounds you can most likely do so with just half a pound of worms or less in the time span as they will populate.

feeding depends on how many worms you got i don't feed much maybe once per week or 3 weeks due to the fact i have very little worms like 3 only and the food is not really gone in just a week alone. i know many people feed what the worms can eat within a week. so i would suggest the same as well. just remember do not over feed them this will cause problems. you can underfeed them they will most likely just eat the bedding anyways

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 3:09PM
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I'm also puzzled by the actual rate that worms consume food as opposed to what is generally reported. I started at the beginning of May with 3 POUNDS of worms. They seem to be doing well. I haven't had any apparent losses, and I harvested about 2-3 gal. of compost at the beginning of August. Assuming normal rate of reproduction, I should have at least 6 pounds of worm by now.

They're in an 18-20 gal RM bin, with plenty of corrugated cardboard bedding. Recently, I've been feeding partially composted green apples which have been kept in big bins. They apples have broken down and a lot of liquid has evaporated off. I would guess that the worms are consuming this at the rate of about 5 lbs a week, or the rough body weight of the worms. This is well under what is reported. I don't know if I'm doing anything wrong.


    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 4:02PM
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I think people generally overstate how much worms eat... though I am by no means an expert, I've simply read these forums a bunch... I would think 5 pounds a week would be pretty good..

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 4:29PM
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There is no solid answer to these questions.

So here's what I have had in the past year:

About 11 months ago I started with a pound of worms in a worm inn. By late spring (about 5 months later) I harvested a full 5 gallon bucket worth of 1/4" sifted compost from the bin. Some weeks I fed the bin heavily and others I didn't feed it at all. For a few weeks the bin really dried out and slowed down greatly.

By late summer I had another nearly full 5 gallon bucket worth of sifted compost following the same feeding pattern.

I would estimate - a SWAG at best - I was feeding the bin a little more than 5 pounds a week worth of cores, fruit peels, failed bread, veg trimmings, and the like. It was only when summer fruit flies started swarming my kitchen that the scraps were getting frozen before I got around to putting them in the bin.

I have since added another flow through bin and have been feeding both bins really heavily - garden veg waste plus kitchen scraps from a family of 4 with regular guests. I would guess that if I were to harvest now I would have more than another 5 gallon bucket worth since I divided the bins 2 months ago.

Again I am running a worn inn and a box type flow though system.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 9:52PM
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we overestimate what worms can eat because it is impossible to know how much they can and cannot eat. my worms alone don't eat their own body weight per day as i don't give a lot of food but within a week i still see scraps of food. alot of the stuff i see them eating is the cardboard itself. put the scraps in and the cardboard seems to be getting eaten faster then the scraps. ontop of that the other bugs in the bin that eat the scraps like mites.

as long as they are eating their is no reason to worry how much food they will consume per day. you don't want to underfeed them but at the same time you also do not want to OVER feed them. thus a rough estimate of 1 pound of food per 1 pound of worms per day. most likely they won't even eat that 1 pound in 1 day.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 12:48PM
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Can too much coffee grounds kill the worms? my worm bin was covered with fruit flies and in the middle of winter i had to take it outside, and the worms died. how to avoid fruit flies in the bin? the house was being taken over by the flies.

e mail me at

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 12:31AM
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As suggested by someone the other day I gave my wigglers some pumpkin plus some mashed up strawberries. After a couple of days I can see no trace of the strawberries yet pumpkin remains.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 12:41PM
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It is tricky business at its best. I have been reading ,playing with and even trying to think like a worm. As near as I can tell the numbers they describe to what a worm can eat V.S. what is produced as vermicast/ vemicompost / how much should I feed is a subjective equation at best. Equinox says it best when he says when in doubt add bedding. The point of my run on sentence is this. The worms do run through at least half their weight per day of material but dont leave the same weight in castings. It is a marketing scheme. The initial mass of the bedding must be considered as well. Follow your nose that will tell you.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 8:50PM
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My wife and I are juicing each day and have about two gallons of pulp or more and my composter are running over and have been thinking about getting worm to eat the pulp and other garden waste. Can one feed worms each day or do I need seven worm bins?
Been thinking about making a flow through worm bin from a Wal-Mart garbage can.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 7:06PM
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In my opinion a 55 gallon worm bin will not keep up with the volume. Also, a plastic Wal-mart garbage can is not engineered to be structurally stable in a new design format while holding the weight of vermicompost.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 11:03AM
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Hi Larry and welcome.

It would help to get more responses if you ask your question in a new post. Click "post a message" at the top of the vermicomposting forum. There are a lot of knowledgeable people on this site who can offer advice Add a little more info, such as daily waste amount. Surely you and your wife don't produce 2 gallons of pulp daily, ... or do you?

Worms can be fed daily....or monthly. It depends mostly on the amount of food and the size of your worm bin. (square feet of surface area)

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 12:20PM
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larry_n7luf - "You're going to need a bigger boat!" If the pulp has already overwhelmed the compost heap a worm bin will also be overwhelmed. Maybe think BSFL or bokashi. Then feed to the sharks.

This post was edited by equinoxequinox on Sat, Feb 22, 14 at 21:40

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 9:39PM
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