What do Worms like to Eat?

by Fern on April 11, 2012

in General,vermicomposting

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In case you haven’t heard, I am now a vermicomposter (how could you have missed it, every other word out of my mouth is pretty much about worms! ;-) ). I have been feeding them some of my kitchen scraps and it is interesting to see what they like eating and what they don’t. And trust me, there is definitely a preference. Onion peels don’t seem to be very popular. Here is a list of what worms do seem to like eating:

  • Coffee grounds, including coffee filters
  • Tea bags
  • Most fruits and vegetables (though potato skins, onions, garlic, ginger and banana peels seem to take a long time to get eaten)
  • Pasta
  • Grains like oatmeal (with no milk)
  • Shredded paper
  • Shredded cardboard
  • Dead flowers
  • Egg shells (I wash mine and then crush them into small pieces before feeding them to my worms)

Do not feed your worms these things:

  • Meat, poultry, fish, dairy
  • Potato chips, candy, and oily foods
  • Any part of a citrus fruit
  • Plastic
  • Rubber bands
  • Sponges
  • Aluminum foil
  • Glass
  • Dog or cat feces

Would you like to give vermicomposting a try? The Worm Factory 360 is a great choice for small gardens (like balconies, patios, rooftop gardens, etc). You can get 10% off by ordering it here: http://www.naturesfootprint.com/lifeonthebalcony

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I received the Worm Factory 360 for free from the manufacturer. Here is more information about my review policy.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Janet, The Queen of Seaford April 11, 2012 at 6:13 pm

I won a Worm Factory 360 from Garden Rant’s giveaway. What a cool bin. Just set my worms up in it. They were previously housed in a homemade bin. Really looking forward to being able to harvest easier with this one.


Caitlin April 11, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Mine seem to do okay with banana and potato peels. They also really like carrot peels. I was told citrus and onions (which I would assume includes related things like garlic and shallots) were no-nos. Egg shells are extra good, because the grit hangs out in their gullets and helps them digest the other food. I just collected my first castings the other day – about 2 cups after 5 months!


Kendra April 12, 2012 at 9:19 am

I have a question for you– most of what I read about vermicomposting recommends starting with a bed of shredded newspaper. Does it have to be finely shredded, as in having gone through a mechanical paper shredder? I’m wondering if I would actually need to buy a little shredder in addition to my other vermicomposting tools


Kate April 13, 2012 at 8:36 am

Kendra – No, the paper doesn’t have to be shredded like with an office shredder. I just grab a newspaper (after taking out the glossy bits) and go to town with a pair of kitchen shears. I chop it up until the pieces are maybe one inch square, and then kind of fluff them up (to break up the layers) before putting it in my Worm Factory. The worms don’t seem to have any trouble.

aw April 12, 2012 at 12:05 pm

It seems you’ve been on the subject of worms for quite some time. I love your newsletter, but like the subjects to rotate more often:)


Fern April 12, 2012 at 11:08 pm

Aw–I’ve posted about worms 4 times in the past two months. Sorry that’s too often for your tastes!

Therese Z April 12, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Specifically, not bones either.


Peggy Z April 12, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Why not any part of citrus fruit?


Fern April 12, 2012 at 11:12 pm

Supposedly there is something in citrus called limonene that is toxic to worms. But I’ve heard conflicting advice on that point.

Chris July 8, 2012 at 11:50 am

Don’t put onions or garlic in there! Worms really don’t like onion – which is why ‘they take a long time to get through them’ as you say. Actually, they don’t bother at all. The onion just rots away.


eimilanna November 20, 2012 at 8:29 am



Hank November 22, 2012 at 11:29 am

I love the information as I am just about to get started with verimcast. Please send to me any additional information or be placed on you newsletter list.

I didn’t know they do no like citrus and onions. I will not put them in their homes anymore. Thank you for your timely help.

Aloha from Hawaii,

hank paresa


Gymgirl February 20, 2013 at 9:02 am

I set up a red wiggler worm bin in December, and yesterday, I went fishing around to see my population. I use a 10-gallon Rubbermaid tub and fill it no more than 6-7″ deep with peat moss that has been soaked and squeezed to remove some of the acid from the medium.

I rolled back about the top 4″ of peat looking for the wigglers, and couldn’t find any. I started to get a bit disappointed, thinking they were all dead. But, I kept unfolding the peat, and there they were, way down in the tub, about the bottom 5-6″. And, there are a LOT of them!

A friend sent me three little styrofoam cups of starters from Montana.

He and I blend up our veggie peels with about 50% water, and make slushies that we store in tall coffee canisters. He stores his in he garage (until his wife complains), and I freeze mine until I need them. Then, I just thaw one out in the yard.

One benefit we’ve discovered with the slushies, is that, since the food is partially pulverized already, the microorganisms and bacteria doesn’t have to work as hard breaking it all down, and they attack it almost immediately. It gets good and scummy (and, yes, it can have a rather putrid odor, but throw in a couple drops of vanilla extract to help), and by the time we pour it into trenches pulled back in the worm medium, we’re introducing almost pure microorganisms for the worms to eat.

No waiting once the dinner bell is rung!




Carol April 24, 2013 at 5:30 pm

Worms are a great way to use your kitchen waste if you don’t have chickens or a compost heap – really handy if you’re renting or live in an apartment (keep them on the balcony). And in return for your kitchen scraps they give you wonderful, nutrient rich organic liquid fertilizer. Everybody wins – especially the environment!


Matt Sullivan July 24, 2013 at 7:21 pm

Yes. Citrus based waste are actually irritating to the worms skin. Great article and awesome comments. I always learn so much.


Matt Sullivan


Lindsey November 16, 2013 at 5:33 pm

I love these little critters!!!!! :)


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