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!

Getting Started

A simplified description for Vermiculture is the act of worm farming, but the accurate definition 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, certain grains, shredded paper, cardboard, compost, and manure. 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 waste matter into a nutrient-rich, soil-amending compost known as worm castings, worm poop and vermicast — the richest fertilizer known to man. 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 is excreted as 100 percent organic castings.

  • Composting worm castings are richer in plant nutrients than the soil due to the high levels of microbial activity. The castings contain thousands more beneficial microbes than the food they consume.
  • Castings contain a high percentage of humus, which helps soil particles form into clusters. This is vital because it creates channels for air to pass, and that aeration improves the capacity to hold water. All of this results in greatly improved soil structure. This is key and aids in plant nutrient absorption, which means plants can take the nutrients they want when they want them.
  • Completely safe around children and pets.
  • Earthy aroma and ready-to-use fertilizer that won’t burn your plants.
  • Neutral pH of 7.0 to slightly acidic.
  • Remineralization of elements of the soil. Organic worm castings will replace all elements, macro and trace, not just NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium).
  • Promotes healthier soil and plants, which increase yields.
  • Improves germination and seedling growth. This helps prevent seed rot and premature wilting, and more.
  • Can be applied at the root zone or by foliar application.
Determine the type of worm bin or Café that best suits your needs and available space. One common example is a 3-tray system made by Tumbleweed in Australia, or another tray system or even bag set-up. You can easily research online worm bins or worm composting systems as a starting point. You will need “bedding” for the worms. Many people use coco coir, shredded paper, and cardboard torn in pieces. As far as terminology, these bedding items are typically referred to as “the Browns”. The worm bin system you select should provide specific instructions.

All About the Wiggly Guys

The number or volume of worms to buy (worm stocking density) will depend upon the system you have selected. For example, the Worm Café by Tumbleweed recommends one pound of Composting Red Wigglers or L. rubellus to start your system. One pound is approximately 800 to 1,000 worms, depending on the number of babies, juveniles, and adult worms in the mix. If you are composting food scraps from four or more adults, you will likely want to start with two pounds of composting worms.
The 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.

To the worm beds, add chopped vegetables that have begun to decompose. Also add fruit waste, tea leaves, and moderate levels of coffee grounds. Chopping the fruits and veggies enables the worms to voraciously feast. You will discover composting worms do not like raw onions and hot peppers. There is a debate about citrus. If you are feeding combinations of vegetables, some citrus is okay to mix in. Don’t feed citrus by itself because it’s too acidic.

DO NOT feed your worms any of the following: meat, dairy, bones, grease, human feces, pet feces, or horse feces.

The Red Wigglers will eat 25% to 35% or more (up to 100%) of their body weight per day. Using this information, one pound of composting worms will roughly eat 1.75 to 2.45 pounds of food per week. While you are getting used to your worms, check on them to see how fast their food is disappearing. Feeding one time per week is an easy schedule. (Check the specific directions on your worm system about where to place the food within the bin or tray.) If you have additional appropriate food scraps, you can feed more often, but do not over feed. Overfeeding will result in a food pile up and start to smell. This event will also negatively affect the worm bin pH.

Simply said, 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 pH. The ideal pH in a worm bin is 6 to 7. However, the worm bin will naturally lean toward becoming more acidic. The breakdown of organic matter creates ammonia. Ammonia itself is alkaline, but various chemical processes associated with ammonia breakdown make the bedding more acidic. Overfeeding the worms leads to acidic conditions. Overfeeding acidic foods lowers pH. Purchase a pH meter to check the worm bed in several spots.

Because Red Wigglers have no teeth, it’s common practice 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 nutrient-rich, proprietary blend that not only aids in worm digestion, but helps maintain pH levels and vastly improves the resulting worm waste loved by plants.

You can use eggshells; they just won’t translate into the same level of elementally- and minerally-rich worm castings and tea. Eggshells must also be washed and left to dry completely or put into a low temperature oven and then pulverized. Eggshells add calcium and reduce acidic levels. If you use eggshells, add ½ cup of the eggshells to your worm bin every few weeks.

Worm Nerd’s successful worm farming operation uses the Premium Worm Grit because that’s what works best for our worms. The 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 are blended, forming a nutrient-rich mixture with a neutralizing pH effect. The blend contains 77+ minerals and elements that pass through the gut of the worm and result in pure, superior quality castings and tea. Spreading the Premium Worm Grit on top of the food helps it to break down faster so it is readily accessible to the worms. This proprietary blend of grit enables us to provide extraordinary worm products purchased for safe and productive gardening.

Add moisture to your composting worm beds by using a misting or light spraying method with non-chlorinated water in frequent applications. (Chlorine kills the living microbes, bacteria and fungi that are necessary to accomplish everything you are trying to achieve with the worms – such as superior castings.) You never want to pour water into a worm bed because worms breathe through their skin. Don’t drown your worms. The worms are epigeic, shallow feeders, so it’s best to keep moisture near the top where worms are. Worms prefer to be moist, not 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.

Still have questions? No worries, we’re always here to help!