Simple Steps for Vermicomposting

Compost foodscraps with earthworms

Oi Lian is one of our vendors. Being a community gardener, she loves vermicomposting. She teaches vermicomposting, food waste management, eco enzyme, Bokashi and other topics at schools, non-profit organization, Peoples’ Association and NEA. A perfect go-to person if you have vermicomposting and go green from food waste questions.

In 2011, Oi Lian started her vermicomposting journey.

“I started doing it in garden but failed because of many reasons:

(1) the bin under shelter shade but it was way too hot

(2) earthworms were attacked by fire-ants

(3) too much food and too hot.”

In 2013, Oi Lian re-started her vermicomposting indoor in her kitchen below washing basin. It worked well! Then, she expanded the worms-bin from “da-bao” food containers to styrofoam boxes. Now she does her vermicomposting in rescued drawers sets.

Oi Lian has shared with me that if the steps are simple enough for beginners to kick start and follow, people won’t give up. So true.

Most people give up because of two reasons:

  • Worms escape and die
  • Too much food which attracts insects and people freak out

Read FAQ below to avoid such mistakes!

Simple Steps to kick start and follow

Oi Lian’s Vermicompost Hobby Starter Kit includes

  • 1 litre fresh vermicompost (may have cocoons)
  • 1 litre harvested dry vermicompost for gardening
  • 50g, 50-400 earthworms depending on size/age of earthworms
  • e-training notes
  • 2 containers as feeding tray and bedding
  • bedding materials
  • cardboard shield
  • towel


1. What earthworms eat and do not eat?

Earthworms eat organic matters (browns or greens, dried or fresh)

  • Browns (Carbon) E.g. dried leaves, coco husk fibre, newspaper, cardboard and etc.
  • Greens (Nitrogen) E.g. food scraps, fruits, coffee grounds and etc.

Earthworms do not eat oily, spicy and bitter foods. Citrus, soy, egg, dairy and meat are all big NO NO.

2. How much do earthworms eat?

Earthworms eat volume of their body mass in one day. If you have one table spoon of earthworms, you can put one table spoon of blended food.

3. What are the common mistakes people make?

  • Wrong type of food. If you feed earthworms with oily and cooked food such as curry, they die. If you feed worms with rice, meat, soy, dairy milk, eggs, the space is gonna be smelly!
  • Too much food. This will cause temperature to increase. For example, soy pulp and coffee ground compost release higher heat which attracts other composting bugs! In turn, predators such as lizards will come for fruit flies and composting bugs.

4. Will earthworms escape?

Earthworms will escape when there is too much heat. Food waste will compost with heat. Hence, it is important to control the temperature, if you put your finger inside the bedding with food, it should not feel like having a fever 39°C. Based on my experiences, worms are happy with 37°C.

That’s why the under step three above, I only advise beginners to put food in one size of the bin, let the earthworms decide when to migrate and eat. One side of the bin is not hot and earthworms will be comfortable.

5. Any smell for vermicomposting?

Smell comes from food rot if there is no air. If there are air and microbes, food composts without smell.

6. How many worms should I put in one bin?

Good ratio to start is 1/10 of total cubic volumn of bedding materials, not the bin size.

If your bin is too big, too much bedding material, too few earthworms and food scraps are scattered, the worms will be all over the place. Hence they do not get to meet each other, fall in love and make babies (cocoons).

However, if the bin is too small, too many earthworms + never harvest poops for more than 6 months, the pH and moisture of vermicompost might change. Earthworms fertility will fall / earthworms become less active / earthworms might die.


Feed Your Earthworms Once a Week

You can put seven tablespoon of blended food at one corner or one wedge of papaya (soft) or one grava (hard). This amount of food can last one tablespoon of earthworms for a week!

oi lian's vermicompost starter kit

After learning all the basic knowledge and tips and tricks from Oi Lian, I think that the kit is well-designed by someone who has been practising vermicomposting for years! Grab one now if you are interested in vermicomposting.

Email Oi Lian at [email protected] if you are keen to join her vermicomposting workshop.