worm food?

In worm composting, can you feed the worms garden refuse (leaves from radishes, clippings, tomato vines after they're ready to be chucked, etc.)?
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).
thanks,
-Zach
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On Thu, 1 Jul 2004 08:10:45 UTC, snipped-for-privacy@ifa.hawaii.edu (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 like.

--
Stan Goodman
Qiryat Tiv'on
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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 feedback. Thanks.
-Zach
(Zach) opined:

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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]
HTH, Wong
-- Latitude: 06.10N Longitude: 102.17E Altitude: 5m
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On Sun, 4 Jul 2004 03:30:40 UTC, snipped-for-privacy@ifa.hawaii.edu (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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