How Many Worms Do I Need?
How many worms do you need? This is a good time to think about how large your earthworm population will need to be in order to meet your goal. How many worms do you need to start with? How large should your habitat be?
The amount of worms you need will depend on how much food you will have available to feed them. Use the following questions to determine how many worms to start with:
If you are preparing fresh food daily with lots of vegetable scraps (peels, rinds, stems, outer leaves, etc) as well as often cleaning out old leftovers from the refrigerator, the maximum amount you should start with is:
- 2000 Red Wigglers OR
- 1000 European Nightcrawlers OR
- 2 LBS African Nightcrawlers OR
- 1000 Red Wigglers & 500 European Nightcrawlers
If you are preparing fresh food a maximum of 3 times a week with some vegetable scraps as well as throwing away refrigerator leftovers about once a week, the maximum amount you should start with is:
- 1000 Red Wigglers OR
- 500 European Nightcrawlers OR
- 1 LB African Nightcrawlers
Although the information found here at Worms4Earth.com can be useful for the experienced worm wrangler, the intended audience is the beginner.
For the beginner, I recommend that you do not start with more than 2 pounds (if using Red Wigglers, 2000 count) of worms per 16 to 18 gallons of habitat size. This amount gives you plenty of “wiggle room” for your population to grow while you familiarize yourself and learn about their food consumption and reproduction rates. Starting out with a modest amount will also speed the process of separating your worms from the old bedding when it is time to harvest the castings for the first time.
NOTE: You may have concerns that you will not have enough food to feed your worms. If you produce at least 1 pound of food garbage per week, you have plenty of food to feed your worms. Worm don't consume food like we do -- it takes several days to weeks for the food waste and paper products to decompose enough for the worms to consume. And, as the material you fed them last week is breaking down and being consumed, you will continue to save your daily scraps for the next time you feed your worms.
As you learn and accumulate knowledge about your worms you will soon have the experience and confidence to increase your worm population and expand your vermiculture operation into multiple or larger habitats.