Is it possible for food to be too rotten or too moldy?
  • I've been using an empty cardboard orange juice container to store my scraps and let it rot a bit before feeding it to my worms. I noticed today that there was a pretty thick layer of white mold in the container. When i dumped the contents into a corner of my bin, I realized that the food underneath the mold stunk horribly. I took out most of the moldy rotten food and threw it in the garbage. I have a feeling the culprit was a half a can of black beans which was already a little sour when I put it into the food scrap container.

    Anyway, is it possible for food to be too rotten or moldy for my worms?
  • Beans beans the musical fruit the more you eat... ok I think you know the rest of that unpleasant poem. LOL Um, yes and no is the answer.

    Ok speaking in riddles I am.

    Here is the thing, a little rotten and moldy food is ok, but to much will produce gasses that can kill the worms. Also to much food can produce heat. The problem really is not in to much food, but instead it is in to much PROTEIN! Beans are loaded with protein. Proteins are made from amino acids which are made of Hydrogen, Carbon, Oxygen, Sulfur, and Nitrogen. When amino acids break down because of bacterial action they turn into various chemical combinations of these elements. If enough carbon and oxygen are available then the compost process will take place relatively smelless. (is that a word?) However if there is not enough carbon the nitrogen will combine with the Hydrogen and form NH3 which is ammonia. And the Sulfur will combine with the Hydrogen and the Nitrogen to produce Ammonia sulfate, which stinks like REALLY REALLY bad and also can kill worms if enough is present. However if there is enough Carbon than the compounds produced are beneficial fertilizers which is what we wanted to begin with! Interestingly enough, that is why beans are notorious for giving us gas when we eat them. The protein along with complex sugars called oligosaccharides that are difficult to digest, apparently for humans and worms.

    So in short, when adding high protein food add a high carbon bedding to offset it. Newspaper print is the perfect example of a carbon source. Beans and meats are high in protein. It takes about 20X as much carbon as nitrogen for a compost system to be in balance, but even beans and meat have some carbon in them already. A little experience is the best method to getting this right. You will figure out with practice how much carbon sources you need to compost certain foods. This is one reason I recomend layering for newbies. It ensure adequate carbon, but still allows for areas rich in feedstock.

    Ok, I can't help myself.

    ... the more you toot.
  • By the way, while I excel in biology and chemistry. My English and grammar fail me.
  • so can you feed then beans out of the can or out of the bag
  • If you feed them out of the bag they will likely grow into a nice bean stalk. If you add beans to the worm bin just be a little cautious as they like to go real funky.
  • Thanks for letting me in on your web site matthew i'm just getting in to the worms i'm feeding laying mash,cotton seed meal,oats, rice all grind up together then i add a little garden lime once ever two weeks what do you think of this feed also i'm bedding them in peat moss and new papers they see to be doing ok what do you think of the feed mix and the bedding thinks for your time
  • Hello,

    That sounds like it should be a really good food mix. What do the worms seem to think of it?
  • Worms love beans, but don't bury them like with your other scraps. They WILL heat up...a lot. I usually sprinkle beans on top and the worms flock to them. The worms will eat the mold. The more mold the better. You won't have to worry about the release of toxins if your bin has adequate ventilation.
  • Halfdollor,

    That is a lot of grains. You really need to be careful with grains. People use them to fatten up worms, but too much can sour the bedding quickly. Only feed them what they'll eat in a day if that's what you're feeding them
  • Good tips Halfdollar,got anymore?

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