You may have heard that worms are good to have in your garden. They play an important role because they can improve the soil, decomposing organic waste. But, is it a good idea to add more worms to your compost bin to achieve a better quality compost? When I thought about this question, I wanted to know more.
If you have a compost bin in your yard, you might be asking yourself “Do I need to add worms to my compost?” You don’t need to add worms to your compost, but it may be beneficial.
Can I add worms to my compost pile?
You can add worms to your compost pile, but they are not required. Composting happens with or without worms. If you have a compost pile or an open-bottomed compost bin in your garden, worms will find it. Worms are attracted to organic waste, so they will thrive in your compost.
Related post: Are Mushrooms Good For Compost?
Why are there no worms in my compost?
There are multiple reasons for no worms in your compost:
- Temperature – There will be no worms in your compost if the temperature of the compost is too warm. The optimum compost temperature is between 135 and 160 Fahrenheit (57 to 71 Celsius ).
- Moisture – If there is too much moisture, worms will disappear from your compost. Too much moisture will kill worms, so you won’t find worms in your compost if it’s too wet.
- Access – Worms need easy access to your compost. Worms won’t have access if you don’t have a bottomless compost bin. Another option is to introduce and gently spread worms in the compost.
Can you compost without adding worms?
You can compost without adding worms. But, it’s important to know that worms are beneficial critters, and adding worms to your compost can be beneficial. Worms help because they may speed up the decomposition or the composting process. The main reason you can but don’t need to add worms is that they find their way to your compost pile.
How to use composting worms?
You use composting worms to recycle food scraps and other organic materials. Worms eat the organic materials you throw in your composting pile. Organic materials become compost as they pass through the worm’s body, exiting through its tail end. You can use nutrient-rich compost to grow plants in your garden.
How many worms do I need for my compost bin?
You can start with adding 1/2 lb per square foot; once you’ve established that the red wriggler worms like the environment, you can increase the number of worms. Even if the conditions are optimal in your compost for your worms, you don’t need to add more than two pounds per square foot.
Can I mix worms in my compost bin?
You can mix worms in your compost, but it isn’t necessary. It’s OK to have a mix of worms in your compost, but one type will do just fine. For example, if you are not sure if you should use red wigglers, African nightcrawlers or European nightcrawlers for vermicomposting, you can try one breed one year and another kind of worm the next.
When to put worms in compost?
When you want to speed up the composting process, you can add worms to the compost, but it may not really expedite the process at all. The best time to introduce worms to your composting pile is when composting is finished. After that, you may have a batch that isn’t as good as it could be.
So, when you want to improve the quality of your already made compost, you might want to add worms. Worms may not speed up the composting process, but they can enhance the final product.
Best worms for composting
Redworms and Red wigglers, also called Eisenia fetida, are the best worms for composting or vermicomposting. Both of these worms are easy to keep and prefer a compost environment instead of regular garden soil. They feed on organic bedding, vegetable waste and compost.
What makes the red wiggler worm the best worm for composting?
Red wigglers can eat as much as half of their weight daily, therefore considered one of the most prolific composting worms. These worms efficiently break down decaying natural waste. Red wigglers turn organic scraps into high-quality organic compost. These worms love to mate during the warmer months. Red wigglers grow to be up to five inches in length.
Outdoor worm composting
If you want to get started with outdoor worm composting, you’ll need the following to get started:
- Worm bin – You can use shallow stacked bins separated with screens. The worms can move up layer by layer as they have digested the vegetable and other organic scraps. Or, you could use one large worm bin with a lid. This worm bin has drain holes on the bottom and ventilation holes on its sides.
- Carbon bedding material – Outdoor composting requires a steady balance of carbon and nitrogen. Carbon bedding materials are an important food source for your composting worms. It also controls odor and moderates moisture levels in the compost bin. Dry leaves or shredded paper bags are excellent carbon sources for outdoor worm composting. Check out our article called “Are paper bags compostable” for more information on composting paper bags.
- Organic scraps (nitrogen) – Vegetable (raw and cooked) scraps make for excellent worm feed in your composting bin. You can also add tea bags and coffee grounds.
- Worms – Red wigglers are the best worms for outdoor composting. They thrive between 55 and 77 Fahrenheit (13 to 25 Celsius). One pound of red wigglers can digest up to one pound of organic scraps daily in ideal conditions. After a few weeks, these worms will mate, lay eggs and begin to multiply in your outdoor compost bin.
How to attract worms to your compost?
You can attract earthworms to your compost by providing plenty of organic food sources. To attract worms to your compost pile, mix leaves, vegetable scraps, and other organic materials.
Because many worms live in the topsoil (top 12 inches or 30.5 cm), make sure you incorporate nutrients in the topsoil to attract more worms. It also helps to lay a mulch of organic material on the soil’s surface. Sufficient mulch thickness will prevent you from disturbing earthworm burrows and protect the moisture in the soil, supporting worm activity.
Avoid pesticides such as Sevin, Malathion, and Benomyl in your garden, which can adversely affect worm populations.
Why worms are good for compost?
Worms are good for compost because they help decompose organic waste products. They are a macroorganism that helps break down organic matter, improving the process of decomposing. Although worms are good for composting, their presence isn’t required.
Compost worms vs earthworms
Compost worms or red wiggler worms are used in vermicomposting. Earthworms are burrowing segmented worms. They are important for draining and aerating the soil. Both of these worms are segmented worms. They improve soil quality by breaking down organic waste.
Earthworms are larger than compost worms. While compost worms only grow to be about three inches long, earthworms can grow up to six inches.
Compost worms have a much faster reproductive cycle than earthworms. While earthworms are burrowers, compost worms are surface dwellers.
Final thoughts on adding worms to compost
Adding worms to your compost bin can help, but it isn’t necessary. If you add the right kind of worms at the right time, they can enhance the quality of your compost. Red wigglers are the best kind of compost worm. They are prolific and relatively low-maintenance compost worms. Once you add worms, make sure you create the ideal environment for them to make sure they will stick around.