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The Poop Scoop, What is Food for Worms?
June 03, 2014
What Is Real Food For Worms?
Welcome to another issue of the Poop Scoop. Where its my ultimate goal to Teach, Inspire & Empower you to become the best worm farmer you can be...Plus a lot more!!!
1. In this issue I'd like to discuss just what exactly is "Worm Food" and how to apply it in a worm bin.
2. Also, so many people have problems with flies and other
insects in their indoor worm bins that it has prompted me to discuss how
to cut down on pests by using a simple method that I have been doing for over
two years now. This also relates to the first topic. So I thought I'd
break it up into two topics.
But first, what's going on at WFR.
Recent Questions and Answers - I don't title these,
**FREE WORM GIVEAWAY!**
I have teamed up with my buddy Patrick Cartwright (Red
Worms Express) to give away
2,000 red wiggler worms to the person who becomes member #5,000 at the FB
group Vermicomposting - Worm
Farming. If you are NOT a member and would like to become one then go sign
up. Who knows you may be number 5,000 :) Tons of help and just downright great,
fun, and goofy people including yours truly :-p
1. What Is Real Worm Food?
I discuss quite a bit (in the free guide) that worms love a ratio of 20:1 up to 40:1 C:N (Carbon to Nitrogen) ratio. But they also like a 100 : 0 ratio. (that's 1 hundred to Zero). In other words, no nitrogen source foods whatsoever. Okay, before you get your worms all in a bunch, I'm not really saying that only Carbon material is real worm food. But it IS real worm food and so is nitrogen.
Confused? Let me explain. Most of us think that "people food" is worm food. Well it is, except for meats, dairy, spices, etc...but we tend to overfeed them "people food" like fruits and veggies. That's all fine but we also tend to (subconsciously) not focus so much on their bedding as real food and treat it more like something that you're just supposed to put their food in. We think of it as a filler or something for them to be protected by while we know good and well that the bedding converts into worm castings as well.
I always like to revert back to nature as it teaches us everything we need to know about raising worms. Picture a beautiful rain forest or even in the woods somewhere, maybe even your backyard. Why does everything look so green and full. It all starts with the soil, right? Trees die, plants die, grass dies, and leaves fall and turn brown. These are all carbon sources that worms and other creatures eat to turn it back into something that is beneficial and renewed for the next season or plant life.
Now imagine much, much less carbon and more nitrogen covering the forest floor like cucumber, bananas, watermelon, squash, pumpkins. Nature would become imbalanced. Flies and maggots would rule the forest and the floor would become too acidic and wet. The forest floor wouldn't be able to breathe and the worms would suffocate or burn up from the heat of the nitrogen rich fruit.
Instead there exists a beautiful balance in the forest. There is an abundance of carbon in the form of dead leaves and plants, while there is also smaller amounts of nitrogen on the floor that has fallen from the plants and trees from being too ripe and/or it's just their time to fall and be recycled. There is plenty of carbon on the forest floor to absorb these smaller amounts of rich nitrogen concentrates. These rich concentrates of nitrogen are what attracts the beneficial flies to help decompose the nitrogen quicker as it can become smelly and acidic.
By now you can see what a worm bin should look like.
When it comes to "real" worm food anything that comes from the ground is fair game. I just want you to think about the N ratio and how it applies to a worm bin. Your worm bin is a small-scale biodome mimicking nature, only it is designed especially for worms and their needs for maximum compatibility and production.
Now, I'm not talking to those who are performing experiments or only feeding manure or feed worms nothing but fruits and veggies. I'm not arguing with you. Composting worms can be trained to eat almost anything as well as only one thing too. I'm talking to those who are getting frustrated and can't seem to find a good balance for their system or are having issues with unwanted pests and other climatic, environmental problems in their system. Maybe I'm just talking to someone who wants to learn as much as possible :)
Having this balance will not guarantee you but bring you closer to that perfect harmony with you, your plants and your worms. So how can you keep unwanted pests out of the worm bin? By following the C:N ratio stated above. Following the 100 to 0 C:N ratio would be preferred if you absolutely wanted to bring your pest problems to a bare minimum and next to zero. Flies, pot worms, springtails, maggots and other critters love the smell and taste of rotting fruits and veggies. They also like the acidic, wet environment too.
Carbon does not contain the high energy sources that these unwanted pests need for their fast paced metabolisms therefore will not be attracted to it. But where would all the fun be if you didn't feed the worms your kitchen scraps? Don't worry. I'm not saying to stay on this plan forever. Just until you've corrected what needs correcting or if you're wanting to go on a long trip.
Below is also a cheat-sheet to the "5-Step Success To Worm Composting" that will help you in keeping and feeding your worms for maximum production and compatibility.
Now that we've discussed some of the natural foods that worms love so much, I want to share with you my method for bringing the wonderful outdoors inside your home without all of the unwanted pests that come with it. I don't mind the many different critters that are in my bin but Let's Face It! Many of them I can do without.
I use wonderful goat manure as the primary source of food for the worms. Occasionally I'll throw them a treat like banana peels, fruit rinds, apples, etc... buried well below the top layer. I also mix in a lot of Carbon materials like shredded paper and cardboard or dead leaves.
So how do I prevent the outside from coming inside?
I COOK IT! This might sound weird to some of you so I'll briefly explain why I do this. Heating up the food insures me that I have killed all of the unwanted seeds from other plants, kill any pathogens, and kill ANY & ALL bugs (within that specific batch) that will insure me that I don't end up in the "dog house" ;)
But what about cooking all of the nutrition out. I'm using hot water and not boiling water. I don't let it cook for long periods of time. There will still be plenty of nutrition in the food. Doesn't a plant loose nutrition when it dries out and become carbon as well?
Again, worm food isn't necessarily people food. They clean up what we don't eat or can't eat. In traditional compost piles the food heats up to 120 -180+ Fahrenheit (60-82 Celsius). It kills unwanted pathogens, seeds, and bugs. Microorganisms called "thermophiles" start populating and generating enormous amounts of heat to break down the material quickly.
But in a worm bin this thermophilic process does not occur. Instead it depends on microbes called mesophiles. A mesophile is a tiny organism that is found inside the gut of a worm and THAT'S where the miracle happens. So no matter how you introduce food to worms the end result is the same (respectively).
I know there are several discussions about the nutrition of certain foods for NPK levels and how to introduce it to the worms but that's another discussion we can have at another time. Believe me! I have an entire theory on that one as well.
We always seem to make things more difficult than they really are and tend to forget the simple things that worked so well for us in the past. Worm Farming is not complicated and you'll hear many people tell you that you should use this or do that when really it's superfluous and it's just "straining the gnats". (no pun intended :) These can be distractions but please know that they mean well and with good intentions.
I encourage us to try new things as long as it's natural and/or safe. There is always room to improve and reinvent. But remember, if all the tweaking gets too far away from what goes on in the "Real World" of worms then we need to get back to what worked. I encourage you to take a walk in the woods or look into your outside compost pile and think about your worm system. Because that is what makes it tick then ask yourself how you can improve on that.
Watch the video up top on Preparing Food For Worms For Getting Rid Of Unwanted Pests
All the best and remember...What's in your
Print out The 5-Step Success To Worm Composting Now!
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