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Meal planning

Posted by nhrdls 9 (My Page) on
Wed, May 14, 14 at 14:24

I read a recent thread about favourite food of worms and was thinking about it.

Do you alternate food items to maintain diversity of food scrapes? What is the good combo to get as good worm compost as possible?

If we keep feeding same kind of food, its going to impact the output - that is compost. To make it rich, we have to feed different kinds of food, whether worms prefer it or not? Kind of same thing that humans are forced to do to maintain the health.

My bin is just getting started. So I can not feed them too much. Since I read they like water melon rinds, I have frozen rinds of one melon that we cut yesterday. Based on the size, the rinds will last me at least 3/4 weeks, but that means worms won't get any other kitchen waste as I don't want to overfeed the bin. I am trying to figure out how to space the rinds.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Meal planning

Back in the '70s, Purina conducted an experiment to determine if dogs fed "varying" diets did better than dogs fed "boring", constant diets. The dogs on the boring, constant diets put on more muscle mass and had more stamina than those fed diets with "variety".

In matters I have first-hand knowledge of - fish culture - unvarying diets produce the most fish protein per unit food per unit time.

One may certainly choose to decide that "more protein" per unit food is NOT the measure of "best". However, in the case of worms, it is difficult to imagine that an animal that doesn't have a brain and has a life-span of less than one year, has much on its 'neural cluster' other than eat, reproduce, and don't get eaten.

It is widely accepted by the scientific community that the primary food of Eisenia fetida (compost worms) is mammal feces. Particularly equine (horse) and bovid ("cow") manure. I am quite certain these animals do not find a pile of cow manure and say to themselves, "Dang! I had cow crap for dinner last night. I'm movin' on. There must be some horse crap around here somewhere."

Paul


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RE: Meal planning

I think worms like a steady diet, whatever it is. When different foodstocks are introduced, It takes a while for them to adapt. I also think that is one reason why many newbies have crawling worms. The supplier probably had a horse manure bed, and the fella's need time to adapt to the new food and bin.

I think a varied feedstock may produce a better end product in casts. Worms prefer a steady diet, but it certainly is not required.

Good luck and happy wormin'


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RE: Meal planning

I am completely convinced of mendopete's thesis that "running worms" are a function of "new" environs. The reason I AM convinced is that it is the most parsimonious explanation of a VERY frequently observed phenomenon.

Paul


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RE: Meal planning

I would have to say (in my admittedly VERY limited experience) that bolting worms are more a result of and "unfriendly" environment rather than a "new" one. As psk said... to them, food is food, with a few obvious limits. As long as the "environment" is not too wet, not too dry, not too hot, and not too cold (in short, the "basic" elements are in order), whatever you put in the bin (in the proper quantities, of course... again with a few obvious exceptions) they will adapt to rather quickly and not have much of an "opinion" about it.

I guess we'll see, though! Second feeding of rather sloppy veggie scraps and quite a few coffee grounds just a minute ago, so we'll see if they scatter later... LOL! ;)


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RE: Meal planning

My worms seemed perfectly happy for a whopping 5 days, but I just averted a minor mutiny tonight - a bunch clustered around the upper edges of the bin walls. I dunno why. I'm leaving their lid off again for a while tonight, and so far they've all stayed underground once the light chased them there.

Is there a way to stir in more bedding without harming them? I'm wondering if there just isn't enough air for them with all that peat moss they were packed in. I didn't really stir it in when I added them, so it's become sort of a soil-like top layer.


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RE: Meal planning

Of course I would agree with what I said, but the "food is food" was in the context of "do they need a varied diet". However, we must consider our terminology carefully when we start to disagree. I think we are all in agreement for the most part. Putting worms from one environment (constant food type) into another environment (different food type) is likely to be "shocking" in the short run. No eyes, no ears, not much for "sensors" to detect "good" or "bad" means most of what is "different" is "bad". When they get hungry from not eating the "new" food, they will 'run' to find new food. When they can't 'run' or can't find the "old" food, they will "settle down" and eat what's before them.

That's what I meant, anyway.

Paul


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RE: Meal planning

If that were the case, why would they not 'run' to find new food in the absence of their regular diet prior shipping to me? Mine settled quite comfortably (at least for a few days) into nothing but bedding. Obviously, it's quite possible that was a component of their previous habitat, but with no food whatsoever they seemed content, and when I removed the 'food' I inadvertently added that heated up (quite a bit), they were once again quite content with their habitat and the diet I provided them... and have been.

Not debating. Just observing (and learning). ;)


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RE: Meal planning

@ joy: Sure you can. I've added a little more bedding with each feeding, and recently shredded some corrugated cardboard to add to the mix (as I started with only shredded newspaper, and wanted a more 'airy' environment). I also mix some paper towels and their rolls in with my food scraps before feeding. It all breaks down...

Just be careful with the grains (bread, rice, etc.). They heat up quicker than you may think (lesson learned - LOL)! ;)

This post was edited by dzignr_tastz on Thu, May 15, 14 at 17:59


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RE: Meal planning

Thanks! I just added a little bit of corrugated cardboard, but did not like how much I had to disturb the packed-together peat moss. They might all get fed up and move out! I'll try to leave them be for a few days.


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RE: Meal planning

Since the actual diet of the worms is the microbes that break down the "food" we give them, I don't think we really know how varied their diet is. There will be some adaptation. As someone observed, some foods, like onion peels, are a vermi acquired taste. Some would argue that worms prefer a steady diet, and the worms don't really adapt. What happens is the next generation prefers the environment it was hatched into.

As for the finished compost, what you put into the bin will determine what comes out. Some feedstocks make better compost than others. Kitchen scraps are low on the list, with cow and horse manure topping the list.


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RE: Meal planning

I like giving my lads a variety of foods. I chop and freeze their food in plastic bags. I put a variety of food in the bag. Sometimes I'll have melon in one bag, just as a treat for them.

That way I can take out 1 or 2 bags, thaw and drain it really well, and they have a variety of foods.

When introducing a new food, when I might have a large amount of it, I put a bit in the corner and see how they like it. I did this when I had a bunch of tomato skins.

I just picked a green garbage bag full of rhubarb. I threw all of the leaves in our green city bin. I think the quantity of the leaves would have caused a problem in my bins.


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RE: Meal planning

@ joy: Disturbing (or handling them isn't a problem), especially if the end result is a more friendly environment. With my initial bedding being primarily newspaper (with some semi-composted grass mixed in) it also tends to get a little compact at times when moist. I just try to scoop underneath it from the sides as best I can (as to not harm any worms) when turning it several times a week... both to help with aeration and just to see what they're doing - LOL! They just crawl right back down into the mix and head back to work like I was never there.


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RE: Meal planning

Jasdip: Good thing you didn't feed Rhubarb leaves to your lads. Rhubarb leaves are poisonous to animals, even to people when ingested enough of it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rhubarb leaves poisonous?


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RE: Meal planning

"I like..." is the operative phrase, and that should, for the most part, be what we ALL do.

If one LIKES to feed a diet that changes every day, DO IT. If one LIKES to feed the same thing every day, DO IT. "This" is about "fun", NOT being the most efficient worm grower on the planet.

Unless one is in BUSINESS, AND one has "share-holders" to satisfy by maximizing profits, there is NO reason to do ANYTHING the way someone ELSE says to do it UNLESS it is what you WANT to do.

If I can't find peace in what I am doing, I quit doing it. Life is too short to do otherwise.

Paul


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RE: Meal planning

Definitely Paul. I agree with you that one still has the freedom to choose to follow advice (?) or not. Besides, there is NO WAY to force anybody to do anything on forums (other than the rules of posting, of course).

I'm still interested how other people manage their worms and bins and why they do it and I appreciate those farmers who share their practices on this forum. One might not be in business and/or have shareholders but isn't it fun to maximize the result of our hobby?
It's the same thing, if I may give a parallel comparison, to growing plants. One try to maximize the yield or get larger flowers. At least that's what I (yours truely) like.
Anybody else with me? LOL.


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RE: Meal planning

There were a couple dozen or more, mostly bigger ones, up on the bin walls again tonight. They mostly go back down quickly when I leave the bin under a bright light. Some of them appear to be getting frisky... is that a reason to exit the bedding?

Thanks for the input about mixing the cardboard in. I tried to do just that, reach down along the sides and lift it up, but I didn't flip it - there is a layer of packed paper at the bottom. I'll mess with it more on the weekend, but for now it seems a lot fluffier in their home.


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RE: Meal planning

I don't want to lead this thread too far afield, but I do want to answer questions posed to me. So..

"Isn't it fun to maximize the result of our hobby?"

I think MY response to that question is "no". The problem with "no" (or "yes") is that the question assumes that "we" all want the same thing(s). I would love to have a 'zillion' worms, BUT... I'm simply NOT willing to concern myself over 'techniques' and practices that have no wide-spread consensus OR that "put me out" more than I care to be. "Life" is FAR too variable to imagine that there is a "best" way to raise animals or plants. "Best" CAN be defined IF money is involved, because that qualifies effort and expense, but I am certainly not "in this" for the money.

I'm well over 60. I've spent my adult life as a biologist and engineer. I have seen people chase their tails over 'things' that simply cannot be determined to be "true", all in an effort to have, or be, or find, or SOMETHING, "the best". With preciously rare exceptions, "the best" is a VERY elusive target. I've seen too much tangible and emotional energy spent on that endeavor.

For those young enough to still be "seeking", I say "go get 'em!". For me, I have "found"; and what I've found is that helping others brings me peace, and worrying about "best" and "most efficient" do NOT bring me peace and there is nothing more valuable than peace.

So again I encourage all to do what* you "like", which may very well be to pursue "the best", but most of all, I encourage you to find peace in what you do.

Paul

* "what" you like is NOT the same as "as" you like.


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RE: Meal planning

Otis, I've known for years that rhubarb leaves are poisonous. I've often wondered if that were true with the worms as well.

I chose not to feed the leaves as a precaution. Between being poisonous and probably acidic, I'd not take the chance.

Who knows, maybe the poisonous parts break down and dissipate as the leaves rot, I don't know. Just like feeding them hot peppers, etc, I always wonder if that affects them.


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RE: Meal planning

I brought up using rhubarb leaves some time back, and someone, I don't remember whom, said "it wasn't an issue". If I remember correctly, the "poison" is an alkyd. Those are often, but not always, fairly easy to break down. If we believe that the worms can't eat stuff 'til it is 'broken down', then it is possible that the nasty alkyds in rhubarb leaves might be 'gone'. All of that said, I'm with jasdip on erring on the side of caution with regard to their use as worm food.

Paul


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RE: Meal planning

I have used some rhododendron and wisteria leaves, mixed with other leaves in my bins. I was worried because both are considered very toxic. I noticed no ill effects, but it was a small amount in a large bed.
I did this based on my philosophy that worms can eventually consume any decomposing organic matter. I am probably wrong.

For meal planning, I would leave out toxic plants.


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