what worms like


There's lots of interesting science about compost and worms, but I have learned a lot from years of experience of adding stuff to the compost heap and in time discovering whether it is biodegradable or not.

Clothes fall apart and are no longer wearable. Cotton and wool disappear like the body of the Cheshire Cat, until all that is left is a synthetic label. Newspaper, plain cardboard and paper make beautiful compost. Boxes and cartons are fine unless they're waxed, and metal staples and sticky tape don't do well either.  Shiny coloured paper probably has nasty chemicals, doesn't have a wholesome feel to it.

found in the garden, not biodegraded: fruit label, button, marble

Plastic is definitely a no-no. It does break down, but into tinier and tinier pieces that you can't see any more. So it basically stays there and it's toxic. 


Paper's gone, biodegraded, only bits of plastic left

Worms hate citrus peel: lemons, oranges, grapefruit, etc. Ditto onions, although the dry outer skin seems OK.

I use strongly scented leaves like wormwood or lavender or santolina, but in moderation. These leaves can be used to repel moths, so I wonder whether they stifle the worms.

I don't put in food that has been cooked in fat, or milk products, because that will attract rats.

It's not fair that worms get all the publicity, and not the other creatures, like slaters and millipedes. By feeding on decaying organic matter they also help to recycle nutrients and change solid materials into beautiful dark rich beneficial compost.


little spider, large web in front of the compost pile

Worms love getting something crunchy to get their little 'teeth' into, provided there's a bit (not too much) moisture. (They actually don't have teeth, they have strong jaw muscles). They used to love phone books but these are either extinct or on the way to extinction. Sticks don't seem interesting to them, until they start to rot down a bit. This can take so long that instead of putting big sticks in the compost I often just pile them up in garden corners, for critters to use as shelter or housing.

I don't have a mulcher, too noisy. I manage without one. Ditto a blower. I hate those things. I love the swish, swish of a broom. It's relaxing. I sweep up leaves and place handfuls in big bags before spreading on the garden or adding to the compost.

I have two compost piles, side by side. When one's full, I move it to the other side, moving stuff that hasn't broken down enough and removing unwanted stuff like bits of plastic that snuck in or those stupid plastic labels they put on fruit.




So that's it.  Situate the bin or piles in a bit of shade so it doesn't get dried out too easily. Make friends with the worms and other critters in them. And enjoy participating in the natural recycling process that underpins the world and everything in it, including us.




Comments

  1. My obsessional self has four compost bins - and a worm farm. Love them all. We were told that worms like eggshells. Not ours. The egg shells don't seem to get munched so I no longer add them to the pile or the farm.
    I don't add meat either though Don Burke (remember him?) once said that if your family pet weighs less than 10 kilos they could go in the compost bin. None of our pets Don - though I have warned my skinny partner that if I had one more bin he would be in danger.

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    1. interesting, mine love egg shells, and I have on a couple of occasions put a dead rat in the compost and it disappeared beautifully. Funny line re re skinny partner.

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  2. I wonder what worms gonna really say if they can talk to human about compost.

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    1. so-o-o-0 funny - it's an idea for a creative blog post.

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  3. Computer laptop is also fine for worms Sue.

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    1. why some people can't comment is a mystery then. Thanks for checking ...

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  4. Those little fruit labels! I keep finding them in the garden. I must remember to take them off before peeling the fruit.

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    1. I try to take them off too but I'm convinced they're cunning and make themselves invisible so they can get some fresh air.

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  5. When I use Google Chrome my comments seen to get lost. So Now I commented twice, first with Google Chrome and then with Mozilla Firefox.

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    1. I don't know what happened, or even if it's still happening, but I changed a setting and maybe that helped???? Thanks so much for persisting, Denise.

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  6. I didn't know worms were averse to citrus peels, or that I cotton clothes would make good compost materials. I wish I had a "proper" compost bin like yours. I inherited a metal compost tumbler with the house (probably because it was too cumbersome for the prior owner to move) but it really doesn't do the job, despite what the website hype says. I have another impromptu compost pile at the bottom of the slope but its location means it isn't tended as it should be. Once the compost tumbler disintegrates further, I hope to fill that spot with a more usable compost set-up.

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    1. Mine is simple and easy to use, or used to be because after so many years the wood is rotting and it's starting to disintegrate. I'm hoping it will last as long as I do. Good luck with organizing a more usable set up,Kris.

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  7. Fascinating stuff. I do add citrus to my compost--I didn't realize the worms avoid it. It seems to break down eventually--probably through other disintegration means. Good idea to add cotton and wool clothing that might otherwise be rags or thrown in the trash.

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    1. So pleased you found it helpful, Beth.

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  8. Very interesting! I noticed that worms in my compost piles prefer newspapers. Rats come to check the piles too, although there is no fat there. I did notice they love citrus. Need to think about that. I wouldn't like to put citrus peels in a trash can... Maybe, I need to put them into a tumbling composter (not my favorite!). Thank you for your post, Sue!

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    1. I was digging once and disturbed a whole nest of rats. I don't know got the bigger fright! Maybe it's a myth about citrus? Beth said she puts it in the compost and it disintegrates. I guess we need to check out the science behind it.

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  9. I had no idea we could put cotton in the compost bin. Will no longer put citrus in the bin. Thanks for these tips.

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    1. pleasure, Linda. Cotton and wool work really well.

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  10. Thank you for sharing this! I never realised cotton was OK to put in the worm farm. :)

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    1. yep - all natural materials do well - leather too, apparently. Thanks for commenting, Sandy.

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  11. Our little bin is full and overflowing but I can't find space for a second one. Which I need so it can really rot down.

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    1. good luck in working out the problem, Diana.

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