In worm composting, can you feed the worms garden refuse (leaves from
radishes, clippings, tomato vines after they're ready to be chucked,
Also, looking around, I saw indications that worms get stressed at 85F
or higher. I live in Hilo, Hawaii, and it gets up there a bit. Are
there breeds of composting worms that would do well here? I tried
looking for info at the hawaii.gardening group, but couldn't find much
there (which kind of hinted that maybe it can't be done here).
On Thu, 1 Jul 2004 08:10:45 UTC, email@example.com (Zach) opined:
In fact, the worms don't eat any of those things. The process of rotting is
performed by microorganisms; what the worms eat is the microorganisms, not
the feed. If you feed the compost heap with a reasonable mix of nitrogen and
carbon (i.e. green material and dead vegetable material), the worms will be
happy. As you say, the heap mustn't get too hot, and much of the heat is the
result of the rotting, rather than the ambient temperature.
Summer afternoon termperatures here are often well above that, occasionally
reaching 104F, and my worms have been happy for years. I feed the heap they
live in gradually; the heap is actually in a large container, kept in the
shade; the heap must be kept moist. An alternative to gradual feeding is to
let the material rot well first, turning it often, until it no longer
generates heat, and only then to introduce the worms.
Do a Google search on 'vermiculture'. You'll find lots of papers, FAQs, and
The microorganisms break down the organic matter, the worms eat the
microorganisms. Seems reasonable. But if that's the case, why would
worm composting be any faster than regular composting? In regular
composting, those same microorganisms break the organic matter down
into humus, right? Obviously I'm no rocket scientist, but how does
adding a second stage to the process increase the overall rate?
I have read about batch composting systems that took only 2-3 months
to convert the materials added to humus, and continuous systems that
take 4-6 months (though I'm not sure how they figured that one
exactly), but I've read references to worm based composting systems
converting the raw organic matter into humus within just a few weeks,
and of continuous systems handling up to 7 pounds of raw organic
matter (food scraps, maybe garden scraps too?) per week, and
presumably they'd have to convert the organic matter to humus within a
few weeks as well.
Not everything I read jives, so I get a bit confused.
Thanks for the info on how your worms are doing. I guess if they can
handle conditions as severe as where you live then where I live ought
to be duck soup.
I will try to find more faq's about the process, and apreciate your
From what I read, earhworm getting microorganisms in rotting plant
debris by ingesting(eatting) rotting plant debris, this help to break
down the plant debris.
This is from my compost note:
[Compost note start]
People often question why this process doesn't smell. It is actually
the rotting portions of decaying food that stink. In worm composting,
the worms eat the rotting portion. The fresh portion is then exposed
to the air and begins to rot. The worms eat it as it rots. As long as
you don't put in too much food for the worms, they will eat the food
as it rots. Therefore, there is no rotting food left to create an
odor. (If your bin smells, you are providing the wrong kinds of food
or too much food.)
As bacteria and fungi begin to decompose the materials, the worms
graze on the bacteria and fungi, and also break up the ingredients
with their movement through the bedding. Eventually, the worms have
ingested the ingredients and bedding, turning it all into worm
castings (feces) that are an excellent finished compost.
[Compost note end]
Latitude: 06.10N Longitude: 102.17E Altitude: 5m
On Sun, 4 Jul 2004 03:30:40 UTC, firstname.lastname@example.org (Zach) opined:
The worms don't just sit there, they are quite mobile, wiggling about. This
aerates the material, and the presence of oxygen encourages the growth of
aerobic bacteria. That can be expected to accelerate composting.
It also inhibits the growth of anaerobic bacteria. These are responsible for
foul odors. My compost heap doesn't smell at all -- which is a good sign of
a healthy compost heap.
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