5 things you need to know before you start worm composting

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

As a beginner vermicomposters, you will learn many things along your journey. Today I want to talk about ten things I learned along my journey. I hope that these ten tips will help you have success throughout your worm farming journey.

Let’s jump into the top ten things you need to know!

Worms breathe through their skin

As you build your worm farm, you must understand that worms breathe through their skin. After heavy rain, you will notice worms on the sidewalk or grass and dirt because the rain has saturated the ground, and the worms can’t breathe.

If worms stayed in the ground, they could drown!

In a worm bin, as food decomposes, it releases its excess liquids. If left unchecked, these excess liquids can drown your worms. Too much moisture includes worms pooling at the top of the bedding, climbing the walls, or fully crawling out of the bin.

Worm Composting Containers tote bin with compost

Worms have a gizzard.

Worms, like many invertebrates, do not have teeth. Instead, they have a gizzard similar to that of a chicken. A gizzard is a muscular stomach of some fish, insects, mollusks, and other invertebrates. It uses small rocks and rock dust to break down its food.

Sketch of earthworm anatomy
Sketch of earthworm anatomy

Since worms have gizzards and no teeth, chopping or blending their food can make a big difference. Along with coordinating their food, you should have items like eggshells, oyster shells, or coffee grounds to add grit. Worms use this grit in their gizzard to break down their blended food.

Worm bins contain other insects.

As your worm bin grows and matures, you will start to see other insects make a home in your bin. Insects like mites or pot worms also make a home in your worm bin. Under the right conditions, these additional insects assist in the decomposition process.

If you find a sea of little white mites or pot worms, it is often a result of overfeeding. To remedy the situation, remove as much food as possible. After removing the excess food, add dry bedding to absorb moisture. Wait to feed your worms or significantly reduce feedings until the outbreak of insects goes away.

Worms lay eggs

Like many insects, worms create an egg-like cocoon to reproduce. Generally speaking, one worm will line up with another worm. Both worms secrete a mucus called albumin, so one worm can provide the other, and the other provides the sperm. As each worm wriggles away from the exchange, the mucus becomes a cocoon.

New light red wiggler egg
New, light worm egg
mature red wiggler compost worm egg
Mature, ready to hatch, dark worm egg

After redworms mate, they create a cocoon that typically takes 3-6 weeks to mature. Under favorable conditions, you can anticipate the hatching of cocoons every three weeks. It is not uncommon for a single cocoon to yield six worms.

Composting worms prefer a specific pH.

Worms do not like an overly acidic or alkaline habitat. Instead, they prefer a pH level of 7 or the same level as water.

In an outdoor bin, worms can avoid foods and items that they do not like. They either wiggle into the ground or a different bin area. However, they can’t prevent problematic foods in a small apartment bin.

Items like tomato, citrus, onions, and garlic can irritate your worms, left unchecked; it could kill your worms. Worms climbing up the side, away from the food, signify that pH is off in your bin. You can check out a complete guide to feeding compost worms here.


There are five things you need to know before you start vermicomposting. In the first few months, note how much your worms can eat and what they like to eat. Make sure to add dry bedding at every feeding to absorb excess liquid. As the population increase, feedings slowly to avoid attracting too many unwanted bugs.

If you have any additional tips or tricks someone should know before starting their apartment worm farm, leave them in the comments below.