Worm Feeding Schedule

Some good questions from Mike:

Hi Bentley, I have a couple of questions for you.
1. When do I know its time to add food scraps to the bin?
2. Should I let the scraps sit for a week or so before I do add them
to the bin?
3. I plan on being out of town for 3 weeks and will not have any way
of feeding the worms, any suggestions on what I can do?
Thank You

Hi Mike,

1) I always recommend “letting the worms be your guide” when it comes to feeding. You definitely don’t need to wait until all the food is gone (better if you DON’T do this in fact), but you also don’t want it to start piling up. If the worms seem to be actively feeding on your food pockets (where you bury food scraps) and you have some more room to add more, it shouldn’t hurt to add some more food. One thing to keep in mind here though – it is next to IMPOSSIBLE to starve your worms. They will start processing the bedding materials more quickly if there is absolutely no quality food (such as rotting food waste) in the bin.

2) I like letting scraps sit before adding them, but it’s up to you. If they already have some food in there it’s not that big a deal to add fresh stuff, assuming you aren’t in a rush to get your scraps processed. In fact, adding fresh material can be a nice way to add ‘slow-release’ food to your system, which brings us to #3…

3) Don’t sweat it – your worms will be totally fine! I’d recommend adding more bedding and more food (without overdoing it), including some fairly fresh stuff as mentioned in the previous response. I should however mention that worm densities can be a factor here. Generally, I am referring here to a typical home worm bin. If you have a LOT of hungry worms you may actually need to get someone to feed them while you are away.

This reminds me of a funny situation I found myself in last spring. I had to go away for several weeks and I received a 5 lb shipment of worms on the day I left!!! Luckily I had set up a fairly large system (using my usual methods, described in my videos) ahead of time, but still I was really worried since it was a lot more worms than I should have put in a bin of that size. I had visions of a mass exodus of worms from the bin while I was away, and me coming home to find them everywhere in the house!

As it turns out, when I returned, the volume of the material in the bin was greatly reduced, there was no recognizable ‘food’ left, and the worms seemed happy as can be. In fact it looked as though they had been reproducing like crazy while I was gone as well – the material in the bin was loaded with cocoons.

Anyway, bottom-line, don’t worry about it too much. Make sure you leave them with some food and bedding when you go way, but there’s no need to overdo it.

Hope this helps

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    • Margie
    • February 19, 2009

    I was worried about my worms when I went on vacation for three weeks as well. I made the mistake of giving them a lot of leafy veggies (I think it was bok choy) to give them extra food. I forgot that these veggies release a lot of water. The worms were fine and happy, but I did need to work on adding dry bedding to correct the “anaerobic slush” that built up in my box.

    I think next time I might give them a bolus of broccoli or cauliflower – stuff that isn’t as wet.

    • Bentley
    • February 24, 2009

    Thanks for sharing that, Margie – you are absolutely right! Food choice is definitely an important consideration when you are going away. Something like partially cooked/chopped carrots and broccoli would probably be good since they’d be broken down enough (via cooking and chopping) to at least offer food value, but resistant enough to prevent mass water release.
    Another idea is simply to add a LOT of bedding at the same time you add water-rich wastes – this should help keep things balanced while you are away.

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