Basic Needs  of Compost Worms

Basic Needs of Compost Worms

It’s an honour to have Adam ask me to post here on the Gentlman Vermiculturist. I’m not sure if that means he thinks I’m a gentleman but I’m counting it. Today I’m just going to post a review of the essential basic needs of compost worms

The Five Essential Needs of Compost Worms

Compost worms need five basic things:

1. An hospitable living environment, usually called “bedding”

2. A food source

3. Adequate moisture (greater than 50% water content by weight)

4. Adequate aeration

5. Protection from temperature extremes


Bedding material for worms consists of a high carbon material like cardboard, coco coir, peat moss  or stable compost. It provides a safe zone for worms in the event food begins to ferment or heat up from thermophilc bacteria.


A few commonly composted food sources for worms are food waste, manures, juicing pulp, spent brewing grain or other previously living organic material. Vermicomposting these wastes lowers greenhouse gas emissions and provides a valuable soil amendment.


Worms berated through their skin. Without moisture worms suffocate. Excessive moisture makes separating worms from castings difficult and excessive moisture without proper ventilation can also suffocate worms. Keeping bedding about as wet as a “wrung sponge” is ideal.


Worms and microbes both need sufficient oxygen to function. The sender your worm population the more oxygen they’ll need. Putting lids on plastic bins frequently causes worms to climb the sides seeking to escape to fresh air. Closed up bins also cause condensation which makes climbing easier for your worms. Lack of oxygen is almost always the reason behind escaping worms.

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Protection From Temperature Extremes

It seems pretty obvious that you don’t want to leave a worm bed in direct sunlight where worms can cook. Nor do you really want to allow the bin to freeze solid. In a warm climate a shaded spot and a plan for cooling are necessary. In a cold region, often getting a thermophilic reaction going by adding a little extra food will be enough to keep worms active.

Providing these 5 basic needs of compost worms will increase your chance at successful vermicomposting.

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