In this article, I’m going to show you how to add worms to your compost bin or pile. Keep reading to find out.
In a rush?
The short answer: you can add worms to your compost by simply putting and spreading the worms in the compost bin or pile. Then, add kitchen waste as explained in this article.
Make sure all the large compostable materials are chopped into tiny pieces. This can help the worms to decompose the organic matter easily.
Adding and spreading the worms in the compost bin, pile or heap is just one task out of many. There are other important key points that you need to know about adding worms to your compost.
Follow along with this handy guide to find out.
Worms and their role in Composting
Worms can be described as boneless animals, which possess a very long cylindrical tube-like body. Worms do not have limbs, eyes, and they range in size from microscopic to over 3.3 ft (1mm) in length.
Some of them are causative agents of many diseases while others are harmless and beneficial to other living organisms.
They are different types and forms. And some of them play an important role in the breakdown of organic matters.
In terms of diversity, worms are widely distributed in water and on land. Some are even surviving in plants’ roots and other rotting organic matters.
Should I add Worms to my Compost?
Despite this, some worms can be dangerous, however, not all of them are bad.
Some of them are very beneficial and they can help recycle organic matters that are otherwise regarded as waste into more resourceful substances that can be used to improve plants’ growth and soil fertility.
These types of worms are frequently employed in vermicomposting to produce organic fertilizer.
Vermicomposting is a composting technique that employs artificially selected worms to recycle compostable materials into compost.
Worms in compost help speed up the decomposition process. Unlike decomposition microorganisms such as fungi, bacteria, and millipedes, worms after aiding in the decomposition of organic matter, also release a very rich-nutrients deposit “black gold” to the compost, which is known as worms cast.
If you really want to produce good compost, you need worms in your compost. Worms can be added to the compost either artificially or naturally.
The artificial way of adding worms to compost is when you as a person who is making the compost deliberately bought worms and added them to the compost.
The natural way of adding worms to compost involves putting some compostable materials, which can attract worms naturally to the compost.
Composting worms are of different types and I’m going to discuss them one after the other.
Types of Worms in Compost
The best-known types of worms that are commonly used in vermicomposting and traditional composting are earthworms.
Earthworms are further divided into three main types, which include root dwelling worms, compost worms, and earth-worker worms.
The root dwelling worms are mostly found around plants’ roots. They burrow deep down the soil, which is very difficult to tract because they do not come above the ground level.
Common examples of root dwelling worms include the Giant Gippsland earthworms (Megascolodes Australis) and the Aussi earthworm (Didymogaster sylvaticus).
These types of earthworms are not good for composting because they do not require extreme temperature, which makes it difficult for them to survive in the compost.
The next group of earthworms is called the earth-worker worms. They are the most common earthworms you see around burrowing and tilling on the topsoil.
This group of earthworms is very important worms as they help improve the quality of soil through tilling, burrowing, and casting their poop on the surface of the soil. And all these increase soil aerations and water retention capacity.
These are the most likely worms that you can see naturally in your traditional compost. Common examples of worms in this group are nightcrawler and common earthworm (Lumbricus terrestrial).
Another important group of earthworms is the compost worms. As the name implies, these types can be found around 12cm of the topsoil burrowing and tilling in rich-nutrient of rotting organic matters such as vegetables and fruit waste.
These types of earthworms can also be found in compost naturally. However, they are mostly used artificially in compost.
They do make great composting work when they are combined with bacteria and fungi. Common examples include Manure worm (Eisenia fetida), dendroboena vents, redworm or red wiggler (lumbricus rubellous), and rd tiger (Eisennia Andrei).
How do Worms get into Compost?
As I started explaining above, worms can get access to the compost in two basics ways:
You can put them with your own hand or they get into the compost naturally through the entrances of the compost bin, pile, or heap.
For instance, earth-worker and compost worms can get access to your compost bin, pile, or heap naturally when they are burrowing for rich-nutrient diets organic matters.
How to add Worms to Compost
Worms are of different types and they are very diverse. So, if you decide to add them manually into your compost, you need to select those that will give you the best result.
The most common and effective worms that are widely used in vermicomposting include:
Redworms: These are earthworms that burrow and art decaying organic matters. They have a temperature tolerance of about 18-25°C (64.4-77°F).
And what makes these types of earthworms an excellent option in vermicomposting is their ability to withstand and live in this range of temperature. They are dark red in color and the length is about 105mm.
Red wigglers: these are also a group of earthworms that are widely used in vermicomposting because they can withstand a very wide range of temperature when compared with other worms.
The temperature ranges from 65-80°F (19-25°C). They are just like Redworms with reddish to maroon color.
Manure worms: these types of earthworms are mostly seen in herbivores’ feces such as cow manure.
They also come in handy when you want vermicompost organic matters that include cow manure or other herbivores droplets.
They are scientifically known as Eisenia fetida. These types of worms have a temperature tolerance of between 15-25°C (59-77°F).
The worm is rust-brown in color with yellow stripes around its body. It can reach a size or length of up to 130mm.
These are the most commonly used worms in vermicomposting. But, what if you see white worms in your compost? Should you worry? Here is what you need to know about white worms in compost.
White worms in Compost
White worms are harmless but seeing them in your compost is a sign, which indicates your compost is not decomposing the right way.
White worms are commonly known as Potworms. The love acidic environment and moisture rich condition.
And so when you see them it is indirectly indicating to you that your compost is too wet.
And good composting worms such as red wigglers and Redworms do not like this acidic and moisture rich environment because the environment deprive them of oxygen.
With this brief and complete information about worms in mind, here is how to add worms in compost and mistakes to avoid while adding them:
Adding Worms to Compost Bin, Pile, and Heap
While adding worms to your compost, it is important to know that worms are container specific. In other words, they require different environment to survive.
A worm that can survive in a bib may die up when added to the compost tumblers. And worms that can burrow and love in compost heap may die when put into a compost pile.
Most worms that you can see around are usually earthworker, and these types of worms they prefer to scavenge on rotten organic matters.
And so when you collect and add them to your compost bin, they may die up or perform poorly.
This is because you do not give them the ideal environment and conditions for their survival and for decomposition activities.
The best known worms that can perform well under any composting conditions are the redworms and red wigglers. However, these types of worms you cannot find on a garden soil. You need to buy them.
Redworms and red wigglers can decompose many kitchen and garden waste efficiently and quickly in most common types of composting environmenta such as bin, tumblers, pile, and heap.
Adding them to the compost is very simple, just add your kitchen and garden waste to the compost bin or tumblers. Make sure you chop large compostable materials into pieces before adding the waste to the compost bin, pile, and heap.
When you added the first layer of browns before adding the second layer of grains, add the worms and spread them.
Then, add greens gently to the compost. Continue to add waste when the compost is about to fill up. Add some worms gently and spread.
How many Worms do you need to Start Composting?
This depends on the size of your pockets. Because, worms are very expensive. However, the ideal amount is about 1600-200) rd wigglers per square foot.
And if you want to employ Nightcrawlers the volume is 600-800 worms per square foot.
The normal worm stocking densities range from 0.5-1.5 pounds per square foot. If you want to calculate the sqyao footage of your compost bin, pile, or tumbler.
You need to multiply the width of the composting container such as bin by the length of the surface area in inches and divide the result by 144.
Here is how to do it in practice:
1. For a circular compost bin, take the square of the radius and multiply times pi(3.14).
Let say your compost bin has 14 inches radius.
Then, the square footage for the compost bin can be calculated as follows:
Radius = 14 inches
Pi = 3.14
Formula= R2 × Pi ÷ 144 = ( 14 × 14 × 3.14) ÷ 144 = 4.274 = 4 square feet
If you are using a compost bin with 4 square feet and you want to employ red wigglers, you are going to use (1600 × 4) minimum or (2000 × 4) maximum.
This means that for a compost bin with 4 feet square size, you need to minimum of 6400 red wigglers or maximum of 8000 red wigglers.
2. For a rectangular compost pile, take the width of the surface area and multiply by the length of the surface area in inches. Then, divide the result by 144.
Here is how to do it in practice:
Let say you are using a rectangular compost pile with a length of 40 inches and width of 25 inches.
Width = 25 inches
Length = 40 inches
Formula = (W × L) ÷ 144 = (25 × 40) ÷ 144 = 6.94 = 7 square feet
If you want of compost with a compost pile that has a size of 7 square feet and you want to employ red wigglers in your compost,
You then need a minimum of (7 × 1600) red wigglers or a maximum of (2000 × 7) red wigglers. This means for a compost pile with 7 square feet size, you need a minimum of 11200 red wigglers or a maxi of 14000 red wigglers.
Common mistakes to avoid while adding Worms to your Compost
Vermicomposting worms are specific and so you need to avoid some common vermicomposting mistakes if you want the worms to decompose the organic matters properly.
Here are the mistakes and how to avoid them:
Adding worms in very acidic compost: vermicomposting worms such as the redworms and red wigglers do not like too acidic environment. The prefer a moderate pH environment.
The main causes of acidic compost is the addition of compostable materials that contain concentrated acids such as citric acid.
So, you can avoid acidic compost when you are vermicomposting by not adding any organic matters that has high acidic pH.
Adding worms in temperature out of their survival range: most vermicomposting worms survive within the range of temperature that is between 60-85°F.
Putting them in a temperature that is far or too below from the normal temperature range can negatively affect their normal physiological activities,
which in turn lead to delay in the breakdown of organic matters. This also can make the compost to be releasing unpleasant odour.
Always provide a conducive environment for the worms by lowering or increasing the temperature by turning the compost. This can help increase air circulation in the compost and maintain good temperature.
Adding worms in too dry or moist compost bed: when you added vermicomposting worms in a moist or dry compost bed, you simply add them to a place where they cannot get access to enough oxygen, which is bad for their normal activities.
You need to avoid this in vermicomposting. You need to put worms in a well-balanced ratio of browns and greens, which is normally 1 part greens to 2 parts browns.
How long does it take Worms to Compost
There is not specific time in which compost can decomposing. This is because the time your worms compost can take to decompose depends on the vermicomposting preparation and maintenance you folloo.
If you follow the right preparation and maintenance of vermicomposting, your compost cannot take more than 2-6 months to become fully decomposed.
Adding worms to your compost is one of the best way to produce a nutrients-rich compost commonly known as “black gold”. However, adding worms in compost requires some basic vermicomposting skills.
In this article, I looked at how to add worms to your compost and steps you can take to avoid making mistakes while adding them to the compost.
I hope the article will be resourceful. Let me know if you have questions in the comments section below.