Compost 911: You don’t need to buy worms for your outdoor compost bin

The number one chunk of misinformation out there which needs to be shot down in flames is that you need to purchase worms for an outdoor compost bin. Worms are for indoor vermicomposting bins that are designed to process kitchen scraps. Indoor vermicomposting bins will turn out great fertilizer for house plants or limited outdoor areas that need a boost. They work great in small homes/apartments/dorm rooms or as a supplement to outdoor composting.

An outdoor compost pile in direct contact with the soil will attract all the necessary worms, insects, arachnids, and microbes. Nature will also do this at exactly the right time in the lifecycle of the compost pile without any help from you (other than turning the pile and an occasional wetting down). Artificially adding worms to an outdoor pile will result in dead worms. Let nature do its thing and don’t try to over-control the process.

You can also skip wasting money on “compost starters”, “compost activators”, and other chemical nonsense. Adding chemicals to compost defeats the purpose of creating compost as a natural fertilizer. Contact with the soil provides everything necessary to your pile courtesy of mother nature. Everything else is a waste of time and money.

5 Comments on “Compost 911: You don’t need to buy worms for your outdoor compost bin

  1. Thank you, I have been looking all over the internet for this answer! So simple… I think I was trying to complicate the composting process. 😉

  2. Great advice, and I hope people can take you at your word. What’s missing in your brief is the long winded science that supports what you are saying. Understandably, you can’t provide it all here. Hopefully I can shed brief light on the science. There are 3 tiers of organisms that work on decomposition. Each come in at their appointed time (and temperature) to feed on the trash and on the lower tiers of organisms present. That being said, throwing worms into the pile at the wrong time can result in fried or eaten worms. For an outdoor pile, your best bet is to let organisms arrive on scene when the garbage is at the right decomposition stage and the right temperature for the particular organism. In other words, sit back and let nature take it’s course.

  3. I’m at the stage of planning my bins, and would like to capture all the natural processes I can. However, I was planning to have slightly raised bins, to enable turning all content, rather than having a dirt floor. Will worms still make their way in? What guidance can you offer?

    • Don’t block the contact with the soil, raising them is going to make turning things harder not easier. The basic turn is pull it all out and then pitch it back in, this is much easier at ground level.

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