Vermicomposting Papaya

My dad recently brought over a ripe papaya for the kids (some grandparents bring toys and candy…my dad brings tropical fruit). Over the next few days, my daughter and I consumed (and enjoyed) most of it. But then it suddenly dawned on me that I’ve never done any papaya vermicomposting trials!

Being the trueworm-head” that I am, my priorities switched from enjoyable-nutrition to vermi-experimentation, and I ran off with the remains down to my “worm lab”.

As I’ve written previously, there’s been some talk about foods like pineapple and papaya being potentially harmful for worms.

Here are some related RWC blog posts.
Pineapple Vermicomposting
Pineapple Vermicomposting – 04-11-13” (follow-up to one above)
Are Pineapple and Papaya Harmful to Worms?”

While I haven’t seen any harm come to my worms from adding pineapple, I’ve definitely noticed that it doesn’t get consumed as quickly as some other fruit (almost certainly due to its extreme acidity). My prediction is that the papaya will be consumed more quickly. It’s not nearly as acidic – the potential issues with it relate to the digestive enzyme(s) it contains.

I kept this experiment super simple. All I did was lay two pieces of ripe papaya (no freezing or any other “optimization”), seeds-down, on the composting zone in my VB48 system (and yes, I am loooooooong overdue for an update on that front). I do keep a garbage bag over the surface to keep in moisture, but that’s the only thing covering them.

It’s been a couple of days since the start of the experiment, and so far it seems (as per usual) the springtails are the first critters to set up shop. I lifted up the pieces today and under one of them I saw a couple of small worms just under the surface – but that’s it. Definitely nothing like the worm activity I’d see under ripe pieces of water melon or cantaloupe.


Day 1

Day 2

I’m still doubtful that worms would ever be harmed by papaya (other than via excessive overfeeding – just like with pretty well any other food waste) – but perhaps there IS something there that makes this fruit less palatable (at least initially)!

Anyway – we shall see how things progress!

If any of you have experience vermicomposting papaya, please be sure to let us know in the comments section below!

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    • John W.
    • February 27, 2015

    I have never understood why people are so afraid to try acidic fruits. I mean I understand you may not want to feed nothing but pineapple. But all you need to do is put a little bit in, and you will see worms eat it. Everything in moderation seems to be a good saying for worms too.

    • Chris
    • February 27, 2015

    Huh, I never realized there was supposed to be anything wrong with it for vermicpmposting. Last year I started my VB34 with 6.7kg of frozen/thawed papaya (from a tree of mine, fruit that possums had gotten to) in with cardboard, dry leaves, etc. left it for a couple of weeks then added worms. I didn’t notice any problems, all seemed to go well.

    • Susan Bolman
    • March 4, 2015

    My ‘worm guru’ here in Hawaii told us that though papaya seeds have no harmful effects on worms, they sterilize them so they can’t reproduce. I’ve never tested it, but mine love papaya as much as watermelon. They get papaya as a part of their healthy balanced (varied) diet. 😉 No seeds.

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