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Tea Bag Vermicomposting – 1-10-2018

Back at the end of September (2017) I started up a new experimental bin. The focus – “tea bag vermicomposting“. The idea was to see how things worked out over the long haul with a worm composting system receiving only used tea bags as “food”.

A couple of weeks after the initial set-up, I fed the system again (see: “Tea Bag Vermicomposting – 10-13-17“)…before completely and utterly neglecting it for the better part of the next 3 months.

All hope was not lost, though. During that time I DID still continue to dilligently collect all our tea bags in a big zip lock bag, sitting under the sink (starting up a second one fairly recently once the first batch started smelling a bit funky). And, as you’ll see in the first video (above), I finally added all those bags to the bin yesterday.

Not too surprisingly, the worms had worked through most of the initial bedding and tea bags that were added early on. Interestingly, in spite of the 3 months of neglect, they looked a lot bigger and healthier than when I first added them (remember, they came from a “ridiculously badly neglected bin“).

One little change I’ve decided to make to the “rules” is to allow the inclusion of the little paper packets most of our tea bags come in (this won’t apply to the ones that come in glossy paper packets, or – obviously – the ones that don’t come in packets). Although used tea bags are nothing like typical fruit/veggie scraps as far as water content goes, I’ve noticed that a fair amount of liquid accumulates down in the bottom of the zip lock bag they are sitting in. So I think having a little more absorbent “bedding”-ish material will be beneficial.

And why split hairs, right? The packets are still technically a tea bag waste! (And would have otherwise ended up in my main compostable kitchen waste stream)

I was curious to see how the worms would respond to the new food source, so this morning (approximately 24 hours after the bags were added) I decided to check up on the bin (see video below). As expected, it seems as though many of the worms have already moved into the tea bag zone.

Moving forward, the gameplan will involve adding tea bags to the bin more often (maybe every 2-3 weeks) – and keeping everyone posted on how things are coming along more regularly as well.

Stay tuned!

Previous Posts Series
The Tale of a Ridiculously Badly Neglected Worm Bin
Tea Bag Vermicomposting
Tea Bag Vermicomposting – 10-13-17

Written by Bentley on January 10th, 2018 with 7 comments.
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Get your own gravatar by visiting Dave
#1. January 11th, 2018, at 1:31 PM.

“Hot” composting, in an insulated bin?


Get your own gravatar by visiting Bentley
#2. January 11th, 2018, at 2:17 PM.

Hi Dave
Interesting idea. I would be concerned about proper ventilation in a bin like that, but it does look like there is at least one bottom air vent, and I like how they recommend mixing the “bedding” types of materials with “food” materials (that should help with air flow as well).

Would be interesting to see how vermicomposting compares in a head to head challenge!

Get your own gravatar by visiting David
#3. January 11th, 2018, at 3:24 PM.

Welcome back Bentlet!
Glad to see another post, and looking forward to many more.
You and your site have been so helpful, I just have to say thanks!

Get your own gravatar by visiting Bentley
#4. January 11th, 2018, at 4:35 PM.

Thanks David! Great to be back.
Lots more to come (maybe 2 more posts just this week alone)

Get your own gravatar by visiting John Duffy
#5. January 12th, 2018, at 8:27 PM.

I am impressed at how quickly the worms migrated into the new tea bag deposit and how active they were in spite of no regular bin maintenance. Bentley, you have the Midas touch.

Get your own gravatar by visiting Caleb
#6. January 12th, 2018, at 11:08 PM.

Nice thought on the individual paper packets for the teabags! I’m going to start doing that for sure with my teabags, I usually generate 2 teabags a day,so I’m definitely saving the paper now!

I guess I’d just again caution people that some individual tea bag packets have plastic or nylon or waxed ink in them, which may not compost too well.

Get your own gravatar by visiting Bentley
#7. January 13th, 2018, at 1:09 PM.

JOHN – my “Midas Touch” is otherwise known as “neglect”! haha
Aging materials can definitely make them more worm-friendly (although I don’t recommend letting food wastes sit remotely as long as I left these tea bags, unless you have the perfect balance of bedding and air flow as well)

CALEB – Great! And yeah I agree this should be considered on a case by case basis. Definitely some packets I won’t use – and if I come across any bags that have synthetic components those wont go in either.

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