Califonia Bountiful

DIY worms

June/July 2012 California Bountiful magazine

Did you know your compost can deliver even more nutrients with a little help from some wiggly invertebrates? Many home gardeners are finding success with vermiculture, or worm composting.

While earthworms also enrich and aerate soil, red wigglers, or Eisenia fetida, are the species used for composting. As opposed to earthworms that deposit castings (worm droppings) on top of the soil, red wigglers deposit castings below the surface, at the root of the plant where necessary nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium and potassium can be more readily absorbed.

Whether you choose a do-it-yourself worm bin or a commercially available one, here are a few tips to keep your worms healthy and happy.

  • Worms need a certain amount of moisture and protection from the sun. If they dry out, they will die. But they can also drown if submerged in water for long periods of time, because they breathe through their skin. Provide an appropriate container with air holes and damp bedding material like finely shredded, moistened newspaper.
  • Worms also need the right food. Kitchen scraps should not contain meat, dairy or oils. Include only moderate amounts of coffee grounds and citrus peels, due to their acidic content. Use lots of vegetables, bread, pasta and tea leaves.

For DIY worm compost bin construction ideas, visit

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