I just got yesterday my worm compost and I am so happy about that. My question is what are the foods that I should and shouldn't put in my vermicompost?

I've done my research and in general they say that I should put fruits and vegetables and papers, I need to limit citrus, manures should be put if they are not warm, garlics and potatoes can be put but there are chances that it will grow roots.

Bonus point: I am willing to give +50 points to anyone who can give me a printer friendly version of should and shouldn't put in my vermicompost, I will post this in our house. This way all of us can be informed and be reminded of what should we dispose in our garbage and what should be put in my vermicompost.

Edit: I am using ANC (African Nightcrawler)

2 Answers 2


You can print out page 9 of this pdf http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1957/23949/em9034.pdf and stick it near your bin. Just a list alone is not so useful as it won't give the reasons.

Food that is okay.

Fruit and vegetable scraps and peels. Potatoes
peels are okay, but worms tend to avoid them
(figure 14).
• Eggshells or other source of grit (see page 8).
These should be ground or pulverized.
• Coffee grounds, filters, and tea bags with
staples removed. You can mix them into the
worm bin at any time.
• Plain cereal, bread, and pasta. Use small
amounts only, as they tend to clump up. Be
sure to wet them first.
• Dryer lint (natural fibers only, such as cotton,
linen, or wool). Lint provides the “fabric” for
air circulation.

Food items that are NOT acceptable

Though your worms will eat just about any
organic matter, some types of food may entice
undesirable insects and animals to live in the
worm bin, too. The foods in the list below are not
appropriate to feed the worms because they attract
pests, can be toxic to worms, or create unpleasant
• Meat, poultry, or fish (bones, skin, or
drippings). These develop odors and easily
attract other pests.
• Oils (such as butter, salad dressing, or
mayonnaise). These smother worms (they
breathe through their skin).
• Dairy products. These products may cause
anaerobic conditions and odors.
• Highly acidic or spicy foods, such as citrus
(especially peels) or onions. These may
produce acidic conditions and may be toxic to
• Pet feces. Feces can contain large quantities of
pests that are not beneficial to worms or to the
final compost product.
The guideline for vermicomposting is: When in
doubt, leave it out
  • 1
    I think graham covered it pretty well. I just want to add that you shouldn't dump everything you can find into the bin. You should only add what they can eat in about a week. It's better to give them a little less than a little more because the food can spoil and be bad for the worms. Many people go from one side of the bin to the other and when the go back to the beginning in a week, the first pile is gone. Let the worms build up to more food. The rest you can help the worms process by blending up, freezing, or both till the worms are ready for it. Good luck.
    – Dalton
    Mar 2, 2016 at 13:27
  • @Dalton the food can spoil and be bad for the worms!!??
    – nilon
    Oct 12, 2016 at 22:16
  • Absolutely. By spoil, I don't mean like food would spoil for you and me to where we wouldn't eat it, but it can go into a stat that isn't good for your worms. They don't necessarily eat "spoiled" food, they eat the bacteria that is breaking down the food. When food spoils and turns to mush or slime, it can go anaerobic, which is not something you want in the worm bin. It can also give off chemicals that aren't good for them. In a large pile they can avoid it till it's ready, but not in a small worm bin. Other things like manure can "burn" the worms if it hasn't aged.
    – Dalton
    Oct 14, 2016 at 3:30

Some cardboard is a good idea if the bin tends to run wet (I have to cover some of the air holes in mine in the winter). Or indeed damp cardboard can keep it from drying out in the summer. Pizza boxes are a good source if they can't be recycled in your area due to food contamination. Some manufacturers do suggest cooked meat is OK, I don't put it in deliberately but don't worry too much if plate scrapings might have contacted cooked meat. A small amount of dairy seems to be OK, e.g. scrapings of macaroni cheese.

I mainly put cooked food in mine as I have compost bins for the raw stuff+coffee/tea waste. And they seem to like bread, even quite mouldy.

  • Cardboard is good, better even wet, so that granted. I understand that meat is a huge no-no. Also, I'd put no ready-made foods: it may have salt, oil, and processed foods are not a good recommendation, either for worms, nor for humans. Besides from the prior sentences, who doesn't like pizza, right? Well those boxes are very useful.
    – nilon
    Oct 12, 2016 at 16:01
  • 1
    @nilon I add the card dry as it can get a bit wet in there anyway (most of the year). I'm not too worried about salt as the amount of processed stuff is quite small, and we don't add appreciable amounts of salt to food (or rather, when we do it's in the form of cheese or soy sauce, which don't get to the worms in any quantity)
    – Chris H
    Oct 12, 2016 at 16:14
  • I'm surprised you edited the answer and left the comment that "cooked meat is ok"! That's the opposite from the other accepted answer. Same applies to dairy. It's ok if it works in your bin by some chance, but I wouldn't give those recommendations to other. All best of course, we're all in the same field of interest.
    – nilon
    Oct 12, 2016 at 16:20
  • @nilon I don't choose to do it myself, but I have sources that say it's OK as well as sources that say it's not (the leaflet that came with my bin and book that was free with it). In fact one of the reasons I posted this answer was to give this opposite viewpoint. What I shoudl have done is dig out the source but I couldn;t find the book. The warning against dairy quoted in the other answer is very mild -- "anaeorobic conditions/odours" -- so any problems would be temporary and probably avoided by small quantities.
    – Chris H
    Oct 12, 2016 at 16:29
  • I've read that meat is possibly okay in small quantities too. The chances of smell & rot though are increased because everything has to breakdown a bit before the worms "eat it". Meat takes longer to get to the point that it can be digested by worms. I wouldn't do it especially if you're in an inside bin. Outside if you can fend off the animals that will naturally come I guess you could go for it.
    – Dano0430
    Oct 13, 2016 at 20:20

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