Should I stir (aerate) my vermicompost?

by Yoseph

I'm a new vermicomposter =)

I'm in subtropics area (Indonesia) so I put my vermicompost in cardboard box.

Since I was still in experimental, I made two vermicomposts in two cardboard boxes.

The first one I feed with shredded paper and food scraps, and the second I feed with aged cow manure.

I feed them slightly every two days. My lovely worm is Eisenia foetida.

My question is should I stir my vermicompost periodically to give aeration for them since I’m afraid of disturbing them or make them stressed.

Doesn't the stirring make the castings mix with food?

Please help me and I’m waiting your reply.
Thanks =)

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Mar 17, 2012
Should I stir (aerate) my vermicompost?
by: Pauly

Hello Yoseph,

Good News!

Red wigglers (Eisenia Fetida) are probably "THE MOST" forgiving species of all composting worms.

Yes, you can disturb them but give them a little while and they'll be all nestled in again and it'll be business as usual.

There is no need to stir up any composting worm bin IF you have proper drainage and holes in the bottom and sides of the worm bin.

composting worms do a great job on their own of stirring up the compost this allows for the autonomous drainage/aeration of the contents in the bin.

If you do not want the compost mixed in with the cast then install hardware cloth in the middle of the bin and add food only to one side. When they are finished with one side (or almost) then you can put food in the other side etc... etc...

See my page on Worm bins:

As gasses (i.e. methane)are expelled from the top or top sides of any worm bin, Fresh anaerobic (oxygenated) air will be sucked in from the bottom.

If you do not have holes for any bin (this is extremely advised but not always necessary) then I would recommend stirring up the pot, so to speak, about twice a week.

You also mentioned that you have your worms in cardboard boxes. Hmm, not sure how long that will last as the worms really enjoy eating cardboard. They'll literally be eating themselves out of house and home ;-)

If this is just strictly for testing then okay, but if not and you are on a shoestring budget, then I would suggest using an opaque (non amorphous) 5 gallon bucket. Drill holes in the bottom and top lid for aeration and drainage.

If it still let's in too much light then spray paint the outside with black or cover the sides with a towel.

Let me know if you have anymore questions,

Mar 18, 2012
Should I stir (aerate) my vermicompost?
by: Yoseph

Thanks Pauly for your fast reply. It's very helpful =)

Before I use cardboard boxes for my worms' house, I've used plastic bin.

Since I put it under zinc roof and I live in subtropics country, the temperature reached 32 Celsius degree in daylight.

The worms gathered at top of the bin and overheat.

I was very shocked at that time =( Sorry my beloved Worms.

Maybe you have suggestions =)

I gave 3 layers of cardboards at the bottom and use 2 cardboard boxes (one cardboard box in the second cardboard box).

Thanks a lot Pauly =)

Sep 14, 2015
Effect of stirring
by: Asad

Hi, I am a student of Chemical engineering.I need this information for my research work. Does stirring help the vermicomposting be faster or it makes negative effect on worm work.

Sep 17, 2015
Stiring Vermicompost
by: Paul

Hello Asad,

Stirring is only necessary for a traditional compost pile because it heats up and becomes packed. Actually it's not needed as nature will eventually compost everything down but will help speed the process exponentially.

In vermicomposting the worms move throughout the food supply/compost breaking it down and aerating naturally.

That's the great thing about worms. They do all the work for you :)

Now if you're talking about the worm castings kept in a storage container of some type, then it IS a good idea to aerate/stir it once per month (yet still not absolutely needed) to keep the microbes alive and and as fresh as possible.

Without oxygen life dies but microbes need very little oxygen.

Thanks for the Q,

Mar 05, 2016
Stirring to mix
by: Jennyholli

I am a new vermicomposter and I have red wigglers in an opaque container with holes but it seems there is a need for stirring because there is food at the top that they aren't touching. There are also small white larvae looking things along with fruit flies. Any suggestions?

Also... how do I know when to try to remove the compost and use it?

Mar 28, 2016
Stirring the Worm Food?
by: Pauly

Hello Jennyholli,

Sticking to the 20:1 C:N (Carbon to Nitrogen) ratio is the best plan for your worms.

I'm not sure how big your worm container is, but it should be big enough so that the worms have somewhere to go in case the worm bin conditions become unfavorable (I'm not saying you've reached this phase yet).

This will prevent them from trying to escape if the conditions are too extreme.

You mentioned you had larvae which is a very good indication that you have too much nitrogen food (kitchen scraps) and not enough carbon (shredded newsprint or shredded cardboard etc).

Flies are usually after the nitrogen-rich foods from the scraps you've put in. Stirring increases the oxygen and too much nitrogen actually blocks out the air flow.

So adding lots of moist carbon increases the air flow and promotes more beneficial organisms along with the worms ability to thrive. After all, carbon is food too ;)

I would remove a lot of the nitrogen as well.

I would also advise to bury your nitrogen foods under at least 2 inches of the carbon bedding and you'll see the flies at a minimal to nothing.

Don't worry about being a newbie. This is the #1 issue with beginners and some of the most successful vermicomposters are those, like us, who have made mistake after mistake.

The great news is that you haven't lost your worms like I did my first time. You're still doing great!

I hope this helps you and keep it up!

Oct 24, 2016
by: Anonymous

Hello. I am planning to start a vermiculite. I will put plastic containers on top of each other with holes in the bottom. The bottom container will collect the worm tea. Here is my question: can I install an air stone to my worn-tea-collecting bin? If so, will that help aerate the adjacent bins? Thank you so much in advance. Brenda

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