Something I’ve been meaning to test out for quite some time now is the potential value of bagged, store-bought “manures” and “manure composts” as a vermicomposting bedding, or even food source. Typically I’ve recommend that people avoid using them, since they tend to be nowhere near as nice in consistency as a real aged-manure (straight from farm or stable), not to mention the fact that they are basically sterilized. I’ve also wondered about potential salt content in some of these materials (remember, worms are VERY sensitive to salts, even at low concentrations).
Nevertheless, it’s always important to actually test things out – so that’s what I’ve decided to do! For my first trial, I am using a bagged “sheep manure compost” that was purchased from a local grocery store garden center. I am testing it in two different beds: 1) In a bed containing a beautiful, rich aged horse manure mix (that the worms absolutely go bananas for), and 2) In my “ultimate” bin (a work-in-progress for sure), containing mostly shredded cardboard and coffee grounds.
Opening up the bag and examining the material this morning did nothing to increase my optimism re: the value of this composted manure as a bedding/food. As you can see it is gray in color, and almost looks like it was mixed with a fine-grain sand (very gritty).
When I soaked it down (figure it will have a greater chance of attracting worms if it’s added nice and wet) it basically turned into mud – almost looked like wet concrete in fact! lol
As you might imagine, I have the lowest expectations for the material that I’ve added to the aged-horse-manure bed – the only redeeming quality I can see this material having (in comparison to the aged horse manure) is perhaps a greater water-holding capacity. But you never know!
I think the sheep manure compost added to my “ultimate” bin has a MUCH better chance of being colonized by worms, since I’ve been having difficulty keeping that bin well-moistened, and quite frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if it offers a preferable habitat to the cardboard and coffee grounds anyway!
While I may seem pretty skeptical here, I should make it clear that I’m keeping an open mind, and am actually really hoping I end up surprised by the results (always fun when that happens)!
Will keep everyone posted!