As worm farmers, we know that our composting worms have three jobs: eat, poop, and make babies. We know that eating is obviously important but how do composting worms eat?
Digestive anatomy of a composting worm: How do composting worms eat?
How do composting worms eat? Composting worms do not have teeth. Instead they grind their food in very small gizzards. The gizzard (birds have them too) is a small sack early in the digestive tract (which for a worm runs the entire length of their body) that contains very small bits of grit or sand. The food passes through the gizzard and gets ground up by the grit. For this reason, I recommend adding a small amount (a handful) of grit to your worm bin with you are first getting started. Good sources of grit: dirt from your yard, rock dust, or crushed oyster shell.
Without teeth, worms can not take a bite out of food. They need to wait until the food begins to rot or break down so that it is soft and wet enough for them to suck off with their very small mouths. Remember your composting worms eat food scraps, worm bin bedding, and tiny bacteria that are working to break down the food scraps. The more surface area (smaller pieces) that the food scraps have, the faster the worms and bacteria can eat it.
What you as the worm farmer can do to make it easier for your composting worms to eat
- Make more surface area in your worm food by chopping it up
- Make some slurry. Run your food scraps through a blender before adding them to your bin. This increases surface area and makes a nice soft, mushy slurry that is easy for your worms and bacteria to eat.
- Freeze your food scraps before adding them to your worm bin. Freezing food scraps breaks the walls of individual cells helping them break down faster once they thaw out.
- Microwave your food scraps. This not only softens food so that it starts to break down faster, it is also a great way to make sure that you kill and fruit fly larvae so that you don’t accidentally add it to your bin. Fruit flies are the worst. Here’s how to get rid of fruit flies if you have them.
Thanks for reading and happy worm feeding! Please share this with a worm farming friend if you found it helpful. If you have another worm feeding tip, please share it on social media. Thanks
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