Vermicomposting: A Basic Overview

Vermicomposting uses worms to do the dirty work on waste.

A sizeable portion of waste produced in the United States is organic material that can be recycled through the process of composting. Composting daily waste items such as food scraps and yard materials is a cost-effective method to reducing the amount of waste in landfills. Not to mention, it makes a great organic fertilizer for lawns and gardens.

Vermicomposting is a method of composting that uses an army of workers — red worms. Better yet? Feeding your kitchen and yard scraps to worms requires little effort! 800 to 1,000 worms, the equivalent of about one pound, can eat and process up to a half a pound of organic waste a day!

Vermicompost, when used as a soil amender, returns organic, healthy matter to the soil, which, in turn, creates more nutrient-rich soil, healthier plants and cleaner air.

For this method of composting, worms are placed in a bin along with organic waste. The worms break down the matter into rich compost. This compost is called castings. Yes, for those of you following along, that means castings are essentially worm poop!

To start a vermicomposting bin, you will need worms, a bin to properly contain the worms and organic waste and worm bedding such as shredded newspaper or cardboard.

The process is as easy as adding your bedding to the bin, placing the worms in and feeding them your waste!

Items to feed your worms include:

  • Vegetable Peelings
  • Rotting fruit
  • Leaves
  • Plant trimmings
  • Spent flowers
  • Coffee grounds
  • Tea leaves
  • Eggshells
  • Dried leaves
  • Newsprint
  • Dead plants
  • Brown paper bags
  • Dry grass clippings


  • Dog or cat waste
  • Meat
  • Dairy
  • Oils or greases
  • Cooked foods like pasta or rice

Worms can usually be purchased at any place that sells live red fishing worms or through the Internet. 

Online sources for vermicomposting supplies include:

For additional information on vermicomposting and the proper care and feeding of your worm workers, check out these great books:


Information for this article was provided by The Complete Guide to Working with Worms (Atlantic Publishing, 2012) by Wendy M. Vincent.


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