Newbie with citrus questions

floraflorafloraNovember 7, 2010

What's the story with citrus? I've had my worm bin going for a little more than a month now. I started it outside on the balcony and brought it inside to my kitchen when the weather started to get cold. The box smells nice and earthy, worms are multiplying, all is well. I've successfully added some supposed no-no's: onions, cabbage/cauliflower stems, the seeds from butternut squash (which sprout and then subside into the pile) but so far I've added little to no citrus. Now grapefruit season is here and I'm going to be producing a lot more leftover citrus rinds. I'd like to add them to the box but I'm wary of the horror stories I've heard. Anyone out there care to comment on their experience adding citrus to a worm bin? I'm not fussy about the contents of my finished VC but I wouldn't want to sicken my worms or attract pests. Just how much citrus is too much?

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ColesvilleEd(9 / Silicon Valley)

Anything that won't attract rats goes to my compost pile, so I don't have any direct experience to share. That being said, I bet freezing the rinds would improve your results. It's really a shame to let stuff that belongs in the soil end up in the landfill.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2010 at 12:00PM
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Bedding can make up for a bunch of too much food or difficult foods. florafloraflora I wish I could harvest citris. My worms need a green house to live in under a citris tree.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2010 at 12:22PM
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My kitchen bin is just that- anything that comes out of my kitchen. I also put in onions and whatever else I have on hand except meat. To me, decomposing onions in NOT a pleasant "earthy" smell but I don't open that bin when my wife is around. That bin smells alot like a garbage can, but the worms are thriving.

Personally, I would add a little citrus rinds at a time and see how they do smell-wise. Put them on one side of the bin so the worms can get away from anything they find objectionable.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2010 at 3:40PM
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I am able to put a bit of citrus rinds into my bin, but if I exceed some undefinable limit they sit there, get moldy and are untouched by the worms. I am guessing (since we are not yet in citrus season here) about one rind per week is tolerable. I do keep the pieces fairly small. Citrus, cranberries, cabbage and cauliflower are all politely declined. I do wonder what would happen if I didn't also keep putting their preferred foods in there... maybe I'll do a test run to see!

    Bookmark   November 7, 2010 at 5:24PM
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Thanks, everybody! I didn't mean I'm harvesting citrus, only that it's showing up at my grocery and I'm going to be eating more of it now. I will try starting small, freezing first if I can, and seeing how that goes.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2010 at 7:06PM
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red wigglers like PH 7.5 to 8.0 if you keep it a little above netural (7.0) some of the "bad critters" can not tolerate your bin. if you smell amonia you should add used coffee grounds and small amounts of citrus fruits, although it is recomended to use citrus sparringly in small bins. you can add newspaper and egg carton and drink tray card board to soak up over moisture, mix all threw. keep in mind coffee grounds will over heat the small bins quickly, so err on the cautious side. you may need to split into two bins to get enough paper and card board into each. I have a 4'X4'X4' wooden bin. for 2 years i used the plastic bins. wood breaths where plastic doesn't. if you have a bin on the acidic side (PH 2.0) add a small amount of baking soda to bring your PH back up. i add any thing from my kitchen, the reason they say not to put some things like citruis is PH will be affected. if you put an acidic then balance with an alkaline, the trick is to keep your bin ballanced as much as you can. well good luck all, and happy worm watching!

    Bookmark   November 7, 2010 at 8:46PM
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Here's what I read a long time ago on

Citrus has a chemical in the rind that irritate worm's skin. It will break down like everything else, but the worms won't want to deal with it until after it's broken down. I don't know if freezing helps speed that process or not. They gave the name of the chemical, but that was probably 2-3 years ago. It was posted by someone who does worm research. (Kelly Slocum perhaps??)

My feeling was that the chemical was in the outermost part of the rind. Since grapefruits have so much of the soft white part in comparison with the outer skin, I'll be they're not as much of a problem as oranges or lemon. I put some of my orange rinds in the bin and some down the disposal in the sink at the end of the day to get a fresher smell. As with any food whatsoever, start slow and see what happens.

Some people put whole chicken carcasses in after getting as much of the meat off as possible. They bury them deeply and then months later take out the whole, clean smell-free bony part. If you burry the stuff that's going to smell bad under about 2 inches of mostly processed VC, it will get consumed and you can avoid the smell.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2010 at 9:14PM
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If you smell amonia stop adding any type of green including coffee grounds and citrus. Add much more dry bedding and air supply even as eldcleaning said if you have to double your bin volume. I respectifully disagree with adding a small amount of baking soda. And will refrain from commenting upon in the sink disposals so as to not disrupt civil discourse.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 12:14AM
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When I just have a little bit of citrus (1/4 rind from squeezing for cooking), I'll add it to the bin. When I have a large amount of peels, I wrap them in newspaper with some coffee grounds and shredded paper and bury in a 1 ft hole in my yard. I figure it will decompose, improve the soil, and eventually attract new worms.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 4:49PM
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