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Wormnwomn's Blog

Wormnwomn is all about organic - personally, for my family, and for the Earth.

Are Worms Vegetarians?

Category: Worm Bin Composting | Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 4:09 am

Someone has brought up a very good point in commenting on my last post.

I really did mean to mention this but got ahead of myself as I am sometimes prone to do and well, I forgot. So, thank you pondlady for bringing it up.

It's not so much that worms are vegetarians, because really they aren't. They will eat anything that has lived and died. However, there are a lot of other critters that are attracted to meat, and fat, and bones. And, since the decomposition rate of these are much slower, they are not a desirable addition to your worm bin, or any compost bin.

Therefore, you do not want to add, meat or bones to your compost system.

Dairy products? I wouldn't dump a load of cheese or dump old salad dressing into the system. But if you have a dinner plate that has uneaten salad with dressing and some grated cheese on it, go ahead and dump it in the compost bucket. Your system will handle it just fine. Bury it and cover it with a good layer of bedding and let the composting begin. There isn't much of anything that your system can not handle in moderation.

Citrus peels are something I am very careful about. While I don't worry about the peel from an orange or two, if someone had decided to juice a bag of oranges for orange juice I would not put all of those peels in my worm bin. There is a substance in citrus peels that the worms don't seem like too much.

Likewise, with oak leaves or pine needles. While I would not worry about a small amount of these in my worm bin, I would not dump a load of either of these items in my bin as well. The outer coating on oak leaves and pine needles is very slow to decompose. And yet in nature these things do decompose quite nicely in time. The tanin is a substance the worms don't seem to like either.

Another thing I watch for is making sure that any manure I use has composted at least 6 months. There are some exceptions. Rabbit manure, because it is not a "hot" manure, can be used immediately. As a matter of fact rabbits and worms are a great combination. But that's for another post.


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What Do Worms Like to Eat?

Category: Worm Bin Composting | Posted: Mon Feb 05, 2007 11:50 pm

Worms will eat your garbage - they will eat your manures (stay away from domesticated animal manures like dog and cat), they will eat shredded paper (none of the slick stuff), they will eat your leaves and grass, they will eat your cardboard, they will eat your saw dust (wood shavings), and they will eat your food waste.

In particular they love - coffee grounds, cardboard, melon rinds, and all sorts of "sh_t."

Manures mixed with wood shavings is a great combination. Melon rinds are great if you have a mite infestation.

Shredded paper and leaves are a great layer to add after you layer on food waste. I really mix these things up in the winter to get some good composting action going for the colder temps. In the heat of summer you need to keep things simple to produce as little heat as possible.

Use some kind of processor for your food waste to get the pieces small. I use a butcher knife or a food processor on pulse.

My neighbor saves me all his waste from his kitchen in a bucket. I don't process any of that, I just dump it into my worm bin. But when I go to the grocer and get food waste from the produce department then I process that because it is all still whole.

The processing is just so the composting process will move along faster.

That's what worms like to eat in a nut shell.


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Worm Bin Composting and Chlorinated H2O

Category: Worm Bin Composting | Posted: Sun Feb 04, 2007 5:27 pm

I had this question come up on one of my other blogs and thought I might address it here as well.

Our water and our food are very much affected by the environment from which it is gathered. Hense you have the environmentalists harping on all sorts of environmental factors that affect our air and water qualities. There is so much more than meets the eye here. The bigger picture is huge!

Have you ever given much thought to where your water comes from? Maybe you feel safe because your water comes from a well. But where does that water come from? Where I live, we are very aware where our water comes from. There are many lakes and rivers that are directly affected by a shortage or abundance of the source of our water. Ultimately, all our water comes from the sky, mostly in the form of rain or snow. It falls picking up whatever is in the air, and percolates through the ground. It runs off into our streams and rivers and into our lakes. And that which does not make it into our lakes, and ultimately into our oceans as well, adds to our water tables. These are great underground lakes that many municipalities use for their domestic water source. There is much that could be said about how we are messing with all our water sources with our lifestyles, and daily decisions. But for now I will remember I am writing about worm bin composting and leave it at that.

My own domestic water comes from the water table that exists directly under where we build our houses, businesses and industry. Periodically , the powers that be make the decision to chlorinate our water. The reason being that their tests have come back indicating that there is something harmful in the water that needs to be killed.

Now let's get back to the worm bin. If you will remember I have said that the bacteria in worm poop is what makes it such a valuable soil amendment. (If I haven't mentioned this I will be and for now you can take my word for it) An abundance of bateria are what you are looking for in a worm bin composting environment because the bacteria are breaking down the food source for the worms and the worms are eating the bacteria and the broken down food and passing it through their gut where it is picking up more bacteria and then, well, then you have the castings...poop.

So, with that said do you think the addition of chlorinated water would be a good thing? I think not. In short, the best thing to do for your water before you use it is to let it sit out for 24 hours for the chlorine to dissipate. Then it is safe to use.


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