Compost worms ARE earthworms, but rather than burrowing down into the soil like all the other earthworms, they spend their lives in the first few inches of the forest floor eating the decaying matter and turning it back into soil.
While approximately 9,000 species of earthworms have been identified, only 9 of these are true composting worms. The species most commonly used in worm farms are Eisenia Fetida and Eisenia Andrei (commonly called Red Wigglers or Reds or Tigers), Perionyx Excavatus (Blues), Dendobaena Hortensis (European Nightcrawler) and Eudrilus Eugeniae (Arfican Nightcrawler).
As compost worms live in just the top few inches of their environment, the bedding you provide should be 12 – 15cm deep.
Worms love moisture, microbes and organic matter.
The bedding itself will be food for the worms and should be some kind of organic matter. That could be coco coir, leaves or leaf mold, shredded paper and cardboard (but not the shiny stuff), compost, or other organic matter that has begun decomposing. If using something that didn’t originate from the soil, such as shredded cardboard, add a handful of compost or soil to introduce microbes to the bedding.
Worms have tiny mouths and don’t actually directly eat the food you feed them. Instead they are actually mostly eating the microbes that are naturally on the food scraps starting the decomposition. Worms have a gizzard and so need grit to help them digest their food. A teaspoon of crushed eggshell or washed sand added to each feeding will help them.
Worms breathe through their skin and their skin and environment need to be moist for them to breathe, so their bedding should be dampened to feel like a wrung out sponge. If you squeeze it you should barely get a drop of water out.
Worms thrive when their bedding is a pH of 7, but they will be ok with the pH being somewhere between 5 and 9. Aim for 7 though. The pH can be lowered by the food or amount of food you feed them so it’s important to only feed what they would eat over a week. Crushed eggshells or lime can be sprinkled over their bedding and then mixed in, to lift the pH if you need to.
Compost worms also need air in their bedding and weekly fluffing of their bedding to break up any hard clumps will help to keep their home aerated.
Worm castings are full of organic plant food, beneficial microbes, humus, plant growth hormones and nutrients in slow-release plant-available form. This encourages prolific growth along with resistence to pests and disease.
Castings retain moisture and oxygen and may even contain tiny baby worms if kept moist and cool until use.
Turning your food scraps and organic waste into worm castings will take about 3 months when conditions inside your worm farm are managed well.
You could, but it’s very likely you’ll dig up plenty of earth worms and these guys are not composting worms. If you don’t yet know how to identify and differentiate compost worm species from earth worm species, you’ll have much more success creating worm castings when you purchase composting worms from a breeder.
Nope not at all. There are some excellent worm farm designs on the market and these can make worm composting a little easier or more manageable. However a plastic storage container will work just as well. and will give you different location options to a premade worm farm. For example, a smaller plastic storage bin will fit under most kitchen sinks whereas a premade worm farm will keep bandicoots and possums out of an outside worm farm.
This is your choice and really any and all will work.
Red Wigglers are well known, a smaller worm with a big appetite, tolerate the widest range of conditions, and are ideal for beginners.
African and European Nightcralwers are bigger and can be used for fishing bait when they are adult size. They compost your scraps as well as the Red Wigglers however the African Nightcrawlers wont tolerate 0 degrees and the European Nightcrawlers tend to like bedding a few inches deeper than the other composters.
Aussie/Indian Blues can occasionally decide on masse to get up and leave, but if conditions in your worm farm are kept optimal you’ll likely never have this happen. They are voracious composters and are about the size of Red Wigglers.
If you are just starting out with worm composting, you might like to get yourself a compost mix where you get a mixture of all of the above.
Anything that was once living, worms will eat.
In the confined environment of a worm farm, don’t feed them meat, fish, dairy, citrus, eggs, or processed foods.
Worms will eat cardboard and paper waste (it’s best not to give them the shiny stuff), rabbit and alpaca manure can be fed fresh, pony cow goat and sheep manure can be fed to worms once the manure is aged, worms will eat your garden waste, kitchen scraps, used coffee grounds and coffee filters, used tea leaves, and eggshell.
A worm chow is a great supplement for both healthy worms and great quality castings. When you buy composting worms from My Friend’s Compost we send you a complimentary bag of Worm Chow Superfood.
The idea is that what goes into your worm farm will end up as nutrients in your worms castings. The pH of a worm farm should be kept close to neutral and this is best done (or upset) with what you feed them.
Some of these states have quarantine requirements which cost you extra money and lengthen the time the worms are in transit raising the risk of your worms dying before they reach you.
And with current Aus Post delivery delays, we don’t want to send worms to the other side of Australia and risk you receiving a parcel of DOA worms.
We are keeping a close eye on this situation and will move to shipping beyond East Australia if and when Aus Post improves delivery times.
This depends entirely on Auspost however we ship only on Mondays to try to avoid a weekend wait for the worms..
Your worms will be fine for up to 12 days if kept cool. We send your worms in a package that should be too big to be put into a hot letterbox, and we label the package to advise the postie to put them in a shady place if at all possible.
Your worms will settle into their new home much faster if you have setup the worm farm on the same day you ordered the worms. This should give 3 – 10 days for the bedding to age a little, making the new home more inviting.
Some shredded newspaper and cardboard, some rehydrated coco coir, and a handful of compost or garden soil (to bring the microbes in), mixed with just enough water to make the bedding the consistency of a wrung out sponge, all added to your worm bin or to the first layer of your worm farm a few days up to a week before the worms arrive, will make the settling in comfortable and quick for them.
Open the box carefully so as not to cut into the bag or the worms.
Gently tip the entire contents of the bag into a corner of your worm farm and let the worms dig themselves down. They will move away from the light but they may take some time to really spread out in their new bedding. Don’t spread them out with your hands as this can stress them and make them attempt to leave. Instead just let them settle at their pace.
Wait for about 3 – 7 days before feeding them for the first time. Their bedding is also food so they won’t go hungry in this time. If you have some Worm Chow Superfood you can feed them a small amount in the first day or two, to both feed them and help them settle in.
Do you have a question we haven’t answered here?
We are always happy to help.
You can get in touch with us on our Contact page with any questions you may have.