Welcome to Worm Nerd University!
Here you can learn everything you need to know about the vermiculture process and more about what makes Worm Nerd products awesome.
If you get to the end and still have questions, just call or email us and we’ll help you out!
Vermiculture, also referred to as “worm farming”, is the cultivation of annelid worms (such as earthworms). At Worm Nerd, we focus on the more voracious composting earthworms such as the Eisenia fetida, which is known by many names including Red Wigglers and Tiger Worms, and L. rubellus known predominantly as European Red Worms.
These two composting earthworms feed on decaying organic material including many fruits and vegetables, dried leaves, shredded paper, cardboard, and more. They do not hear, see, or make sounds. They breathe through their skin and have cells known as receptors that taste and sense light. They are photophobic (do not like light) and have two to five hearts. These worms have no teeth, but they do have a gizzard, which helps them go through so much food.
Vermicomposting is a cold compost method that uses composting worms to convert organic matter into useful waste products. The collected worm waste is the 100% organic and chemical-free medium known as “worm castings” or “vermicast”. Composting worms are remediators, which means they take in impurities and chemicals and when those things pass through the “gut” of the worms, the result excreted is completely organic.
- Organic, chemical-free, eco-friendly medium appreciated by gardeners.
- Include thousands more beneficial microbes than the food they consume.
- When used in topsoil or potting soil, add eco-friendly organic matter, reduce erosion, retain moisture, and improve aeration.
- High percentage of humus helps soil particles form into clusters, creating air channels that improve aeration and the capacity to hold water.
- Friendly, earthy aroma.
- Neutral pH of 7.0 to slightly acidic.
- Can be applied at the root zone or by foliar application.
Determine the type of worm bin that best suits your needs and available space. Common examples are tray systems or a bag set-up. You can easily research online worm bins or worm composting systems as a starting point. Worm Nerd offers 4-tray worm bins that are perfect for beginners and small spaces.
Secondly, you will need “bedding” for the worms. Many people use coco coir, shredded paper, and cardboard torn in pieces. These bedding items are typically referred to as “the browns”. The worm bin system you select should provide specific instructions to get you started.
All About the Wiggly Guys
If you are composting food scraps from four or more adults, you will likely want to start with two pounds of composting worms. However, the actual numbers of worms you get should depend upon the system you have selected, as you want the worms to fit their new environment comfortably. For example, the Worm Café by Tumbleweed recommends one pound of worms to start your system (approximately 800 to 1,000 worms), while Worm Nerd’s worm bins hold up to 500 worms.
Red Wigglers are considered small worms, meaning in their juvenile stage they are about a half-inch long. Count on them to be heavy eaters and ready to vermicompost, but not able to reproduce. It takes about 40 to 60 days for juveniles reach adulthood. At that point they will average 2” to 3” in length and will be both vermicomposting and reproducing.
Red Wigglers reproduce quickly when the environment is ideal. Access to food needs to be steady. The temperature should be maintained between 55 degrees F and 79 degrees F., and the moisture level should remain consistent. The bin or café is their home, so conditions need to be favorable for reproduction. Egg stage to mature worm is about 3 months. Ideally, your Red Wiggler population should double every three months.
There is no specific number of worms that are considered too many in vermicomposting bins. When worms multiply to a specific density according to your bin’s size, their reproduction rate reduces. The result is a maintained population level that does not exceed what is manageable for your worm bin, café or other system.
When worms die in the bin, their bodies decompose and are recycled by other worms, along with the food scraps. However, if all or a majority of your worms die, you must clean the bin, evaluate what happened, and start again. Connecting online with worm bloggers is a great way to learn from situations other worm farmers have experienced.
Decomposing vegetables, fruit, tea leaves, dried leaves, and coffee grounds are great additions to your worm’s diet. Chopping the fruits and veggies enables the worms to eat more efficiently. Your worms may not like raw onions and hot peppers. Citrus should only be given in moderation due to the high levels of acidity.
It is NOT recommended to feed your worms any of the following: meat, dairy, bones, grease, human feces, pet feces, or horse feces.
Red Wigglers can eat 25% to 35% or more of their body weight per day, equating to roughly 1.8 to 2.5 pounds of food per week for one pound of composting worms. When you are first getting started, check on the worms regularly to see how fast their food is disappearing. We recommend trying to feed them once a week and only adding more food when the existing food is gone. It’s crucial to not overfeed as it can create foul odors and affect the acidity of the bin.
pH (“Power of Hydrogen”) is a measure of acidity and alkalinity. The scale runs from 0 (highly acidic) to 14 (highly alkaline), with 7 being neutral. The ideal pH in a worm bin is 6.0 to 7.0. The worm bin will naturally lean toward becoming more acidic as the breakdown of organic matter creates ammonia. Although ammonia itself is alkaline, various chemical processes associated with ammonia also breakdown and cause the bedding to become more acidic overall. Using a pH meter in several spots in the worm bin can help ensure acidity levels stay within the ideal range.
Because composting worms have no teeth, it’s common to give them a little extra help to digest food. Various organic matter with a gritty texture, such as eggshells and coffee grounds, is added to the worms’ food. During digestion, the worm’s gizzard breaks down the food into smaller particles. The rough texture of the grit makes this process much more efficient. As what goes in must come out, Worm Nerd’s Premium Worm Grit is a mineral-rich, proprietary blend that not only aids in worm digestion, but helps maintain pH levels and vastly improves the resulting worm waste.
Yes, using eggshells for grit works! But it has its advantages and disadvantages. Eggshells should be washed and left to dry completely (or put into low temperature oven) and then pulverized before adding them to the worm bin. They add calcium and reduce acidic levels.
Worm Nerd’s Premium Worm Grit is special because of the proprietary formula in which it’s made: volcanic rock and other rock dust elements collected from around the world. This mineral-rich mixture has a neutralizing pH effect and vastly improves the resulting worm waste.
Add moisture to your composting worm beds by misting the contents with non-chlorinated water. Non-chlorinated water is necessary in order to avoid killing the beneficial organic matter present in the bin. Do not just pour water over the bedding as you’ll be more likely to overwater and potentially drown your worms. The compost should always be moist but never wet.
Orders & Shipping
Our worms are shipped directly from our farm in Apopka, Florida. They are carefully placed in a breathable, cotton bag which is then put in a ventilated cardboard box. Packing paper is added to the box to keep the bag in place. During certain weather conditions, a heat pack or ice pack may be added to the bottom of the box to keep the worms at a comfortable temperature during shipping. Transit time for the worms is expected to be no more than 3 days.
Although we do our best to ensure your order arrives in perfect condition, the shipping process can still be rough on the worms. We have a 100% satisfaction guarantee for all live worm orders. If you worms arrive damaged or perished, please call or email us right away and we will send a replacement at no additional cost.
In order to protect the natural biodiversity of the islands, Hawaii has strict regulations regarding the import of agricultural products. Because of these regulations, Worm Nerd cannot ship to Hawaii.