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I have maintained several beds of 3 distinct species of composting worms for the past few years. I have red winglets (esiena fotidia), European nightcrawlers E. hotensis, and Africans, Eudrilus something.

You can tell, I figure anybody who wants to know the actual species is either going to look it up or knows already...

Anyway, the way I have composed the the food for any of y worms is to add whatever kitchen scraps, paper or cardboard shreddings, and some yard clippings into a,compost tumbler where it mixes and is innoculated with bacteria.

This has served me well for a long time. I get first class casting production.

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The original post ran long, so,I will continue. Th past week or so, I have changed what I feed my worms. In addition to the above mentioned substances, I have begun to harvest algae from my AP system. he way I do that is simple... I put a small piece of foam rubber or polyester button, depending on the water flow under the water outlet as it hits my beds.

In many cases this would be at the water entrance position to your swirl filter.

Either way, I am now feeding the squeezings from these directly into my worm beds.
I will be willing to bet my worms will be in better condition due to the wetted high protein food source.

My Red Wigglers seem to love grated up sweet yams.  I grate them up uncooked and they eat them up before anything else.

I don't usually compost my food first, I just bury the scraps directly in the bin. My worms' all time favorite is baked potato, followed by avocado, and then banana peel. But I also feed them leftover pulp from juicing, cucumber, tomato, egg shells and just about anything else that comes out of the kitchen. I avoid coffee grounds (which is supposedly a favorite for worms, but for some reason, my worm don't like them. Neither do my bsf larva, so maybe its the coffee we use), bread (attracts HUGE amounts of mold. The pieces usually turn baby blue and sulfur yellow), onions, anything spicy (irritates worms), and anything citrus (actually poisonous in large quantities). And of course I also avoid meat and dairy products.

Mine eat all kitchen waste that the chickens don't eat, particularly lots of coffee grounds.  My large compost/worm bin is outside so just about anything goes in, including garden waste and fish remains.

   This is always a fun discussion.   We run a commercial scale redworm farm in WA. State. We focus on Eisenia fetida.   Our redworms get a wide variety of compostable matter as their feed.  A  portion of what we feed them is spent grain from a local brewery.  Great stuff.  In fact all our farm critters from the fish to the pigs get the spent grain as part of their diet.  Basically cooked barley. 

   You can feed redworms any compostable matter.  Yes, they do seem to develop a favor for certain types of food stocks over others. So the redworms at one place that are "used to" one type of feed may not readily consume a new type of feed (at first) when introduced to it, but the neighbor down the road who has worms may be feeding that particular thing to their redworms as fast as it can be provided. It is  kind of like introducing new foods to young children who might not find dining the place to be adventurous.

     Some things are better not to feed to redworms.  Oils.  That will coat their skin so they cannot breathe. Citrus is okay to feed to redworms as long as you do not have them in a bin. A bin has too limited a space for any appreciable amount of citrus, and can become a harsh acidic environment that will kill the redworms.  In an outdoor wormbed citrus can be weathered, and the acidic content of the citrus will dissipate.  The redworms will move in on it when it is not too acidic for their sensitive skin.  The same goes for onion and garlic.

   Many people will tell you not to feed redworms meat.  Redworms  are fine with meat, but meat that gets old is not something most people want to smell.  If you add meat to an outdoor vermicompst pile/bed it will need to be well covered and secured so the neighborhood raccoon, rats and dogs don't  discover it, and then decide that your vermicompost pile will be the local deli from then on.  It is legal in some states to dispose of farm mortality using vermicomposting as the method, and some commercial dairies do this (I realize this idea may be objectionable to some, but I just wanted to demonstrate that redworms CAN be presented with meat).

    According to Ohio State Univ. Soils Lab research and Canadian Centre for Organic Farming publications, there is a comparison of feedstocks for redworms.  It shows that pig manure is the best  feedstock for worms, and produces the best quality worm castings. On our farm we have distinct differences in foodstock we give our separated populations of redworms. We make sure any redworms associated with an AP system are NOT  in manures.  It is a customer confidence issue...you can read more details on that in other posts about e-coli and redworms.... 

   Redworms will eat just about any compostable matter.  They are actually secondary decomposers.  They also do not have teeth. Any squishy foods are more readily consumed than firm ones. Any "squeezings" from  swirl filters will be a boost to the redworm diet.  Just be sure you are not getting your vermicomposting bin too wet in doing so.  If the matter in the bin gets sopping wet, it can pack down and anaerobic pockets will develop.  These pockets will not only smell, but they will rob the system of oxygen, and this can kill your redworms, or cause them to try to escape. Many feel that "fluffing' a worm bin is the answer to a wet bin. Regular "fluffing" of the bedding is not a good practice because redworms do not handle disturbances well.  Any stirring of the bin (or tumbling, if you put them in a tumbler - not a good idea) will actually retard the entire  vermicomposting process. Redworms that have been disturbed will quit eating and reproducing for 1 1/2 to 3 weeks.  If the bin dos not get sopping wet in the first place you will have 'happy' active redworms. It will be interesting to read what you feel are the comparative results of the added "squeezings" in their diet.

 

   Back to moldy bread... Yes, those 'refrigerator experiments' are great fodder for your redworms! The more gross the better.  Remember, they are secondary decomposers. They actually consume the microbial population that get on foods as the primary decomposers.  Molds.  Redworms will consume molds. Moldy bread is okay to feed to redworms.  Yes, it may look gross to you, but if you could  ask a redworm, it would give you a differing opinion. Remember, when food matter is added to a worm composting bin, it should always be covered by two inches of bedding.  That stops odors until the redworm can consume the food matter. More importantly, the two inches of bedding also keeps the gasses that decomposing food give off, from attracting fruit flies and gnats.  According to entomologists, fruit flies and gnats will not penetrate a two inch depth of bedding to get at a food source.

 

Redworms (of many species) are a great compliment to aquaponics! 

   - They keep our growbeds clear. 

  - They produce worm castings that are a great planting medium for seeds starts and seedlings..

  -  They produce the worm castings that can be made into a brewed worm casting tea that will stop many plant maladies and kill insect pests.   All natural and safe for your AP system!  

  - Worm castings contain auxins and gibberellins that are natural plant growth hormones.  If you mist seeds with  worm casting tea you will increase germination success and decrease seed germination time.

  -   They are a great food source for your fish.

 

All from feeding 'trash' to some redworms!

 

    Vermiculture/vermicomposting and AP are a wonderful combination.

 

- Converse

 

 

   

Great information Converse. I recall there actually being a chemical compound in citrus that is harmful to worms, besides the fact that citrus is acidic. I'll see if I can get the name of that for you. And like you said, I just avoid the meat and dairy because they smell. And attract animals. The biggest problem with flies that I've had is because my worm bin is small. Sometimes the edges of the bedding dry out and the flies get in. Once they get in, there's just no getting them out :)

Hey, Bob Terrell and I were having a discussion a while back about the benefits of redworms over other worm species. If you could wander over to that part of the forum and leave some feedback that would be wonderful!

http://community.theaquaponicsource.com/forum/topics/last-year-disa...

Yes, Yes  words from the master
 
Alex Veidel said:

Great information Converse. I recall there actually being a chemical compound in citrus that is harmful to worms, besides the fact that citrus is acidic. I'll see if I can get the name of that for you. And like you said, I just avoid the meat and dairy because they smell. And attract animals. The biggest problem with flies that I've had is because my worm bin is small. Sometimes the edges of the bedding dry out and the flies get in. Once they get in, there's just no getting them out

Hey, Bob Terrell and I were having a discussion a while back about the benefits of redworms over other worm species. If you could wander over to that part of the forum and leave some feedback that would be wonderful!

http://community.theaquaponicsource.com/forum/topics/last-year-disa...

What you are referring to in citrus is a compound called limonene, which is what actually gives oranges their orangey smell, and lemons their lemony smell. Etc…  Ever stick your finer in an orange peel and get that stingy feeling?  That is the same compound doing its thing.  Yes it can be a toxic compound…So those of you who use shampoos and body washes that have natural scent of orange , etc… that is what makes it smell…AND it is toxic (..according to some sources. It is classified as an ‘irritant’ in other sources), and flammable…but it is also used in pharmaceuticals…so what gives?! In its pure form it is classified as a light skin irritant …These are concentrations of the compound.

    Back to the redworms and orange peel question.  Yes, citrus contains Limonene.  Yes, it CAN be an irritant to redworms…but there needs to be a concentration of it.  That is why along with the acidic nature of peels I recommend not adding peels to a redworm bin, but let people know it is okay in a large area, where the redworms can avoid the peels until they are weathered.  Keep in mind that limonoene is not water soluable. Now if you live in an area where you can have a citrus eating party every day, you would not want to go adding the peels to your wormbeds (and definitely not your worm bins), since you’d have a concentration of Limonene building up. The occasional  peel that the rest of the world has access to occasionally, will not be a challenge to your redworm population. 

  Here is a quote from the EPA R.E.D. Facts on Limonen…you can use your own judgement as to the weight you give to EPA information:

 “Technical limonene is practically nontoxic to birds on a subacute

dietary basis, and is slightly toxic to freshwater fish and invertebrates on an

acute basis. The formulated product is practically nontoxic to birds on an

acute and subacute dietary basis. It is practically nontoxic to freshwater fish

and slightly toxic to freshwater invertebrates on an acute basis. Based on

acute toxicity data using rats, limonene is practically nontoxic to mammals.”

 

The stuff the EPA is referring to in this article I quoted from  above is use of Limonene in concentration in products..

 

Since Limonene is not water soluble, and shows a level of toxicity to fish, any products containing orange oils should not be used  to fight plant pests in an AP system on a regular basis.

 

Hope this is helps clear up the question.

 

- Converse

I will try to get to the discussion today  on redworms compared to other worms  that you asked about a few posts up on this discussion...but due to my schedule today I may have to address that tomorrow...I'll post it using the link you gave above.

 

- Converse

Hi,   I feed mine rice, banana leaves, kenaf ( soon to be using ), all the excess scraps from my garden.

I use wicking grow beds/ self watering containers to keep them happy here in florida.

My favorite website on worms is ->

http://www.redwormcomposting.com/

Thanks for all the great info and enthusiasm! I have a question for you about brewery waste. My local brewery gives away their spent mash, but they divide it up. The grains go to local farmers for livestock feed, the leftover sludge is free for the taking. I'm wondering if this sludge is good for the worms or should I be trying to get on the list for the grains (which I bet the fish would love too ). I've fed it to them once and they seem to be eating it. It's free, virtually unlimited supply, and organic to boot!

Converse said:

   This is always a fun discussion.   We run a commercial scale redworm farm in WA. State. We focus on Eisenia fetida.   Our redworms get a wide variety of compostable matter as their feed.  A  portion of what we feed them is spent grain from a local brewery.  Great stuff.  In fact all our farm critters from the fish to the pigs get the spent grain as part of their diet.  Basically cooked barley. 

   You can feed redworms any compostable matter.  Yes, they do seem to develop a favor for certain types of food stocks over others. So the redworms at one place that are "used to" one type of feed may not readily consume a new type of feed (at first) when introduced to it, but the neighbor down the road who has worms may be feeding that particular thing to their redworms as fast as it can be provided. It is  kind of like introducing new foods to young children who might not find dining the place to be adventurous.

     Some things are better not to feed to redworms.  Oils.  That will coat their skin so they cannot breathe. Citrus is okay to feed to redworms as long as you do not have them in a bin. A bin has too limited a space for any appreciable amount of citrus, and can become a harsh acidic environment that will kill the redworms.  In an outdoor wormbed citrus can be weathered, and the acidic content of the citrus will dissipate.  The redworms will move in on it when it is not too acidic for their sensitive skin.  The same goes for onion and garlic.

   Many people will tell you not to feed redworms meat.  Redworms  are fine with meat, but meat that gets old is not something most people want to smell.  If you add meat to an outdoor vermicompst pile/bed it will need to be well covered and secured so the neighborhood raccoon, rats and dogs don't  discover it, and then decide that your vermicompost pile will be the local deli from then on.  It is legal in some states to dispose of farm mortality using vermicomposting as the method, and some commercial dairies do this (I realize this idea may be objectionable to some, but I just wanted to demonstrate that redworms CAN be presented with meat).

    According to Ohio State Univ. Soils Lab research and Canadian Centre for Organic Farming publications, there is a comparison of feedstocks for redworms.  It shows that pig manure is the best  feedstock for worms, and produces the best quality worm castings. On our farm we have distinct differences in foodstock we give our separated populations of redworms. We make sure any redworms associated with an AP system are NOT  in manures.  It is a customer confidence issue...you can read more details on that in other posts about e-coli and redworms.... 

   Redworms will eat just about any compostable matter.  They are actually secondary decomposers.  They also do not have teeth. Any squishy foods are more readily consumed than firm ones. Any "squeezings" from  swirl filters will be a boost to the redworm diet.  Just be sure you are not getting your vermicomposting bin too wet in doing so.  If the matter in the bin gets sopping wet, it can pack down and anaerobic pockets will develop.  These pockets will not only smell, but they will rob the system of oxygen, and this can kill your redworms, or cause them to try to escape. Many feel that "fluffing' a worm bin is the answer to a wet bin. Regular "fluffing" of the bedding is not a good practice because redworms do not handle disturbances well.  Any stirring of the bin (or tumbling, if you put them in a tumbler - not a good idea) will actually retard the entire  vermicomposting process. Redworms that have been disturbed will quit eating and reproducing for 1 1/2 to 3 weeks.  If the bin dos not get sopping wet in the first place you will have 'happy' active redworms. It will be interesting to read what you feel are the comparative results of the added "squeezings" in their diet.

 

   Back to moldy bread... Yes, those 'refrigerator experiments' are great fodder for your redworms! The more gross the better.  Remember, they are secondary decomposers. They actually consume the microbial population that get on foods as the primary decomposers.  Molds.  Redworms will consume molds. Moldy bread is okay to feed to redworms.  Yes, it may look gross to you, but if you could  ask a redworm, it would give you a differing opinion. Remember, when food matter is added to a worm composting bin, it should always be covered by two inches of bedding.  That stops odors until the redworm can consume the food matter. More importantly, the two inches of bedding also keeps the gasses that decomposing food give off, from attracting fruit flies and gnats.  According to entomologists, fruit flies and gnats will not penetrate a two inch depth of bedding to get at a food source.

 

Redworms (of many species) are a great compliment to aquaponics! 

   - They keep our growbeds clear. 

  - They produce worm castings that are a great planting medium for seeds starts and seedlings..

  -  They produce the worm castings that can be made into a brewed worm casting tea that will stop many plant maladies and kill insect pests.   All natural and safe for your AP system!  

  - Worm castings contain auxins and gibberellins that are natural plant growth hormones.  If you mist seeds with  worm casting tea you will increase germination success and decrease seed germination time.

  -   They are a great food source for your fish.

 

All from feeding 'trash' to some redworms!

 

    Vermiculture/vermicomposting and AP are a wonderful combination.

 

- Converse

 

 

   

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