We have many customers who want to add worms either to a composting bin or heap, very often they have purchased composting bins and have been told that by adding worms this will speed up the process, to some extent this is true but problems can be encountered if you are not aware of the conditions that worms need to live in.
Basically, an “ordinary” compost bin or heap works by the waste being continually added, stirred up (or in the case of the heap – turned over) this introduces air, as the bugs, bacteria, fungi and all sorts of other micro life breed and multiply they need this air, as they are multiplying and decaying the waste they produce heat, this is called aerobic composting, when any heap or bin is generating heat in this way it is properly composting, if the heap or bin has gone cold, this means that the population of bugs bacteria etc have used up all the oxygen and are now dying off and effectively the composting has slowed or stopped altogether, very often if everything is stirred up, introducing more air the whole lot will start again. When a composting bin or heap is happily composting away (and generating heat) there is absolutely no point in adding worms to “speed up the process” the heat will either drive them away or simply kill them off!
When a heap or bin has pretty much finished composting and has gone cold and no more fresh waste is being added then your compost is ready to use BUT sometimes it is not as good as you had hoped, it may have unfinished bits, it may be too coarse it may even be a bit smelly, it can even be disappointing, this would be a good time to add worms, the compost should be aerated again (but because it has finished it shouldn’t heat again) and the worms placed on top, if its reasonable compost they should burrow down straight away, they will continue to breed and feed on this compost but what they produce the other end (to their mouth) is a really fine and valuable product much superior to the first lot of compost.
I hope this has been useful, please feel free to copy and download for your own private use. Strictly no commercial use or reproduction without our express, written permission.