The Novice’s Guide to Composting, Part 3: Feeding Your Worms

What to feed your new worms? The list is probably larger than you think. To start, all human food can be composted, although acidic things like citrus and longer to compost items like meat or bones should be composted in moderation. This is to make a good environment for the worms: too much acid might kill the worms, and composting too much meat or bones may attract pests that are likewise harmful to the worms.

Overripe fruits and veggies do the best as they provide a lot of nutrition and compost quickly. While it’s best to have the food be in smaller pieces, it’s possible to compost large items as well. I once composted an entire leftover pumpkin from Halloween and the thing was gone in a week. All I did was poke a couple holes in it and threw the whole thing in. Yard waste is also a go. Weeds, trimmed leaves and branches, etc can all go in. Dirt can go in, although it’s not much nutrition, so it’s a bit of a space filler.

On top of that, think about anything else that is made from natural materials. Paper in all forms (newspaper, cardboard) can be composted, although avoid glossy paper or paper that has a waxy coating. Both of those are made of a plastic film that’s not great for the worms. Paper itself is a great source of carbon, as is hair and nails. Yes, that’s right: instead of letting your hair go down the drain, you can collect it and give it to your worms! Same with your pet hair, and any nail clippings. Toilet paper, paper towels, and napkins are also welcome.

A very much not comprehensive list of things you can compost:
Fruits and veggies
Paper, cardboard, newspaper
Citrus and onions (in moderation)
Meat and bones (in moderation)
Spicy food (in moderation)
Pizza boxes
Paper towels and toilet paper (and their rolls!)
Tissues and napkins
Moldy bread (and other moldy food)
Wine, beer, other alcohol
Pretty much all edible liquids (milk, juice, kombucha, etc)
Sticky notes
Grass, leaves, branches, other yard waste
Dead flowers
Live Christmas trees
Leftover Halloween pumpkins
Hair and nails
Coffee grounds and tea leaves
The leftovers that have been in your fridge for too long

Things that are objectively bad:
Plastic in all forms: wrappers, bags, etc
Metal: cans, staples, paperclips, bobby pins, etc
Glass: bottles, windows, etc
Produce stickers: while technically edible, these do not compost
Shipping labels: remove from cardboard before putting in! Although the new paper tape is compostable (it takes a bit longer) so that can stay on.
Tape: the stickiness doesn’t work so well.
Glossy and waxy paper.

Questionable items (check what they’re made of!):
Tea bags: The tea inside is fine, but sometimes the bags themselves are made of micro plastic. The little tea labels often use some plastic coating so even if the bag is okay, cut the tag off.
Dryer lint: If all of your clothes are all natural materials (cotton, wool) then yes! If there’s a polyester or nylon blend in there, then sadly not.
Compostable straws, forks, spoons, etc: While technically yes these are compostable, your worms still probably won’t eat them. Send them to an industrial composter or put them in the trash (Recycling plants can’t take these either)