How Many Composting Worms Do I Need?

Worm composting, also called vermicomposting, is a form of composting method wherein food scraps and other organic wastes are fed to a specific species of worms that are used for composting. While it might seem like an easy concept to grasp, the truth is it can be difficult to assess a lot of vital factors that involve the process. But, fret not. This guide aims to teach you how to measure your daily food waste volume, calculate the number of compost worms you need, and determine the size of your worm bin in correlation to the volume of your food waste.


How much food waste does your household generate?


The first thing that you need to do, if you ever decide to proceed with worm composting system, is to measure the volume of food waste that your household normally generates. But, of course, in order to accurately calculate, you will need to gather data first.


Because you need to know how much food waste is going to need composting, you need to track and audit the food leftover daily. To do this, collect food scraps that you expect to feed your compost worms every after a meal. You have to remember to collect only the leftover food that the worms can eat. You can find a complete guide of feeding compost worms, including what to avoid feeding them, in another article from our site.


Keep the food scraps in storage until you reach the end of the day. Once the collection day has ended, gather all the food scraps that you have collected all throughout the day. Weigh everything using a weighing scale. Do this repeatedly for an entire week. Do not forget to take note of the weight of each collected food scrap at the end of each for the whole week. Once you’ve reached the 7th-day mark, get the average of all the weight by adding them all up and dividing them by 7. And, that’s about it. The numerical value that you will get is the average daily food waste your household generates.


How many compost worms will it take to eat our average daily household food waste?


Because red wigglers are the most common worm used in worm composting, this article will assume that you will be using the said type of worm for your worm composting project. So assuming that you have decided to use red wigglers, you will need to double the mass of your worms depending on the average food waste that you have daily.


In simple terms, for a food waste daily average of a pound, you will be needing 2 pounds of red wigglers. This is because this type of compost worm can easily eat approximately half their weight every day. So logically speaking, the amount of worm that you will need is double the daily average of your food waste. A table is provided below for your reference.


Daily Average Food Waste (in lbs) Amount of Compost Worms (in lbs)
1 2
2 4
3 6


Should you decide to use a different type of compost worm such as the European nightcrawlers, we highly advise that you do a brief research on the species diet first. This can give you an idea of how much of the said type of worm you will need to finish off your daily average household food waste.


How many red wigglers are in a pound?


Because we are mainly basing our calculations and measurements through weight, there is no actual need to count every red wiggler there is in a pound. However, it does make someone curious. So to answer this question, most experienced composters estimate at least a thousand of red wigglers every pound. So if you have 3 lbs of red wigglers in your worm bin right now, that’s approximately 3000 worms breaking down your food scraps into compost.


How big does my worm bin need to be in relation to our daily average food waste?


The next factor that you have to take in consideration is how big of a worm bin will you need to safely house the amount of food waste and compost worms that you have. In general, the surface area required for each pound of red wigglers is two square feet or a 1’ x 1’ surface area. So needless to say, you will need to really calculate the amount of food waste and amount of compost worm that you need in order to obtain just the right container for your worm composting project.


What materials can I use as a worm bin?


While there are several online stores and local compost shops that sell worm bins that you can readily use, you can still opt to build your own bin to save a hefty amount of money. A lot of containers can, surprisingly, be used as a worm bin or worm composter. Plastic containers or wooden crates are great candidates for these DIY projects. You can read about how to build your own worm composter from our website. And should you need help in setting it up, feel free to check our thorough guide in worm composting as well.


How many compost worms should I start with?


If it’s your first time to try worm composting, we understand why you are wary about getting every detail right. However, as a beginner, we advise that you initially get just the right amount of compost worms depending on the daily average food waste your household generates.


There’s no need to worry about purchasing more red wigglers from the very start. For beginners, having a large initial amount of red wigglers can be overwhelming. But if you’re still worried that you might not have enough worms or if you simply just have a number you want to reach, put your mind at ease for these worms actually have a high reproduction rate. You will find that, as you continue worm composting, your community of worms will gradually expand. After all, the next thing red wigglers love to do aside from eating is reproducing.

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