Citrus fruit wastes tend to be among those considered less-than-ideal for vermicomposting. They are highly acidic and the rinds contains volatile oils (and are slow to break down in general), so even a mellow vermicomposter like myself tends to treat them with caution.
That being said, I DO like to push the envelope every now and again (wink wink), so when I started noticing a lot of juiced lemons showing up in the coffee grounds I regularly pick up (from a local coffee shop), I thought it might be fun to set up some sort of citrus vermicomposting experiment.
If you’ve been following the blog closely this spring you’ll know that I’ve settled in to a pretty consistent multi-pronged waste optimization strategy for preparing my waste materials, involving a freeze/thaw, chopping, and then mixing with “living materials”. I decided to take the same approach in this case as well.
A couple of days ago I removed a small garbage bag of lemon halves that had been sitting in my chest freezer for more than a week. I let them thaw outside for about 24 hours before cutting them up with heavy duty scissors and mixing them with some “living material” collected from the edge of one of my outdoor worm beds.
The lemons were pretty badly infested with fruit flies by the time I started chopping them up, so I definitely won’t be doing any indoor experimenting with this particular batch. I’ve decided instead to add the mix to my raspberry garden worm bed (something I’ll write more about at some point) at the back of my yard. I did want to make things a little more interesting, though, so I created two different batches of the lemon mix, one with rock dust mixed in, and one without any. I’m curious to see if buffering the acidity does anything to aid with the break down process (render it more “worm friendly” etc).
I will keep the material nice and moist (so as to make sure that moisture content isn’t a limiting factor), and keep a close eye on the two treatment zones over the next few weeks to see what happens.