From S.P. in Wahiawa

I fed my worms three pounds of baked beans but it took weeks to break down and it was really stinky in that bin the whole time. I won’t do that again – beans are out!

Oh, no, don’t ban the beans!  Beans are a wonderful source of protein, and protein is hard to come by in our school and home worm bins where we manage them to be odor free.  We stick with fruits and veggies, which are mostly water, simple sugars and other molecular chains easy to break down.  We can slip in some protein with grains including bread, rice, oatmeal, and corn, and we certainly recommend that you do so.

You can introduce even more valuable protein with all kinds of beans and tofu, even a bit of egg, cheese, and for sure fudge brownies. Your worms will be very excited to score high-nutrient goodies!

At this point, I will relate the story of Irene, a fearless and enthusiastic vermicomposter who lived high up on a cliff in Lanikai overlooking the ocean.  Irene managed a big ten-foot lateral-flow worm bin that was well downwind of her house.  She courageously fed her worms everything – the entire turkey carcass from Thanksgiving dinner, stillborn kittens, bagfuls of freezer-burned fish, buckets of discarded chicken skin – you name it.  Yeah, that bin truly reeked but the odor was carried off by the prevalent winds, drifted out to sea and bothered no one.  And Irene’s worm colony was the biggest, fattest, healthiest, most robust bunch of happy worms I have ever seen.  

Worms will eat any decaying organic matter, but dense, complex foods like proteins and fats decay slowly, stinking up a storm until they go gooey enough for the worms to process them. Worms need protein to build healthy bodies and be productive and reproductive – just as we do – so how can we make it work?

Easy – it’s all in the mix.  Instead of three pounds of baked beans all at once, a cupful would have been fine, mixed with your usual banana peels, papaya skins, melon rinds, apple cores, potato peelings, burnt toast, and salad veggies.  Stash the rest of the valuable baked bean inventory in the freezer for a later feeding.  

So HOORAY FOR BAKED BEANS, beans are da best!  Definitely keep them on the menu, just feed in moderation.

Got a harrowing, surprising, or triumphant worm feeding experience to share?  Comments, questions, expertise?  Get in on the conversation below.

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