Small space gardening

Posts tagged ‘What not to feed worms in a worm composting bin’

Romance in the Worm Bin

The subject matter of this post was originally going to be about what worms like to eat in the world of vermicomposting. However, when I was doing my research, I stumbled across some hanky-panky in my worm bin, so we’re going to take a slight detour.

A few weeks ago, I reluctantly started putting avocado shells and pits into my bin, knowing full well that they would be of little interest to my slimy friends. I couldn’t imagine those delicate little creatures chomping into either one of them. We humans won’t even eat them after all, and we’ve got teeth!

 Romance in the Worm Bin / My Urban Garden Oasis

Last week when I added kitchen scraps to my bin, I poked around a bit in the bedding. As I expected, my instincts were correct. I found the in-tact shells and pits still floating around. Some of the pits had started to grow roots, and they were still hard and untouched by the worms as far as a meal goes. So out to the “real” compost bin they went.

Feeling a little defeated, I decided to remove the shells as well, but when I went to dump the dirt out of one of the shells, I found a big ball of worm “spaghetti” inside of it. I’ve never seen so many worms compacted into such a small space. By the time I got my camera, many of them had made a run for it, but here’s some of the slower moving ones still in a tangle.

Romance in the Worm Bin / My Urban Garden Oasis

I completely underestimated my worms. The shells were clearly a delicacy, so I decided to leave them in the bin.

Today at feeding time, I decided I’d try to get a better picture of the massive game of “Worm Twister” for all of you, but I was met with another surprise. When I dumped out the avocado shells this time, they were full of little baby worms! Again, the little camera-shy creatures started slithering away before I could snap a group photo.

 Romance in the Worm Bin / My Urban Garden Oasis

 Romance in the Worm Bin / My Urban Garden Oasis

Clearly the original worms weren’t playing “Twister” at all. They were playing something else, if you know what I mean. Uh-hum.

Worms are neither male nor female–they all have both sperm cells and egg cells, but they still need a mate to reproduce. And let me tell you from the looks of that tangled mess, there was a lot of cellular exchanging going on. Apparently the avocado is an aphrodisiac in the worm world.

Either before, during or after their romantic episodes, the worms clearly were eating the shells because they were very thin, and crumbled in my hand.

 Romance in the Worm Bin / My Urban Garden Oasis

 Romance in the Worm Bin / My Urban Garden Oasis

So getting back to the original point of this post about what to feed worms in vermicomposting, avocado pits are a no. Avocado love-shack shells are a yes.

As far as other foods, I had always read no citrus, but my worms eat my lemon rinds with no problem. I don’t have a lot of them, but I do throw a few in. I also throw in onion scraps on occasion against the advice of other vermicomposters, and they disappear too.

I’ve noticed my worms won’t eat leaves of Brussels sprouts, and they won’t touch peperoncini peppers. I’ve had a whole one in the bin for a few weeks that I dropped on the floor when I was making pizza, and it’s faded in color but is still whole. (Clearly, they don’t honor the 10-second rule.) They love grapes, but the stems from the grapes just seem to hang around.

I’ve thrown shredded newspaper into my bin a few times, but if the worms have plenty of kitchen scraps, they aren’t too interested in the paper–although they did gobble up a toilet paper tube once. Paper towels (non-greasy) and coffee filters seem to get eaten pretty quickly too.

Of course any fruit or vegetable scraps are a go, but no meat or dairy.

And there you have it folks. A post about the eating preferences of worms with a side order of how to put your worms in the mood with an avocado shell. I’m pretty sure I’m going to get the Nobel Prize for this one (or at least a nomination).

This post was written by Tracy Evans, who is a certified Home Stager and Redesigner, a journeyman painter and an avid gardener. If you have an interest in home organization, DIY home improvement projects or redesign, please feel free to visit her other blog at https://homestagingbloomingtonil.wordpress.com/. You can find additional before and after pictures on her website at http://www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com.

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