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Will Worms EAT It?!

A worm-friend recently referred me to a website called “Nature’s Little Recyclers” (NLR), the online platform for a Chicago-based business of the same name.

NLR was started by Ed Hubbard in 2012. In a “Chicago Now” article (written by Hubbard), he described his initial motivation in the following way:

“I was burned out and a wreck, after serving as a tech entrepreneur, priest and religious educator as my core profession for the last 22 years. While rewarding, allowing me to meet great and unique people, to share information on a global basis, it did not meet my inner need to create a something organically meaningful.” … “For me, working in growing things and creating soil was the best thing I could do to renew myself.”

Here is a link to the original article (from last fall): “How Nature’s Little Recyclers came to The Plant and gave Birth to Green Tech Chicago

There are quite a few intriguing aspects of the NLR story, but what I wanted to talk about today is Ed’s hilarious “Will They Eat It?” project. The idea is simple – basically “let’s see what Red Worms will and won’t eat”. As you might guess, Ed kinda takes this to the extreme.

But the results are pretty surprising!

I’ve included 3 of his before/after videos below (ALL examples of foods the worms did in fact eat). The full series can be accessed from the NLR Video Page.




Among the other strange things successfully vermicomposted: cheese puffs, hardboiled eggs, sandwiches, and fortune cookies!

Interestingly enough, Ed’s worms DIDN’T seem interested in wrapping paper!

Obviously (or perhaps not so obviously), the “take away” msg here should NOT be – “dump loads of salty, greasy, starchy (etc) wastes into your worm bins!”, but rather the idea that we don’t always need to obsess about the “rules” of vermicomposting so much. Yes, erring on the side of caution is not a bad idea when just starting out, but don’t let that limit your exploration of vermicomposting once you become a bit more experienced!

As Ed Hubbard clearly demonstrates, vermicomposting should be experimental and FUN!

Written by Bentley on September 26th, 2014 with 5 comments.
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Get your own gravatar by visiting Kiera
#1. September 27th, 2014, at 1:14 AM.

I give mine left over chicken bones to clean up too. Takes a while and I often send them through a couples times but it doesn’t seem to hurt. I live in alaska and during salmon season (when I have the system outside btw) I put a few fish heads and tails in there with no left overs but the occasional pin bone. They eat a lot of stuff.

Get your own gravatar by visiting GA
#2. September 29th, 2014, at 4:26 PM.

Most of the reasons not to feed things to worms are mostly about whether we find it gross and smelly. I find this is easily controlled by having a good layer of bedding on top, and not overdoing it. As with almost anything, smaller chunks break down more quickly.
To be fair, the issue with smaller bins indoors is that they are much more sensitive – as are we to smells.
As a small note, I _think_ I see much less of an issue with cooked meats. Raw meat going rancid is it’s own special hell.

Get your own gravatar by visiting Bentley
#3. September 30th, 2014, at 10:04 AM.

KIERA – Interesting! Thanks for sharing that.
GA – Great points!

Get your own gravatar by visiting Gina W.
#4. October 8th, 2014, at 7:51 AM.

I put in left over baked/breaded pork chop bones with scraps of attached meat in a bin. An unpleasant smell? Well yes, and the worms cleaned it up. The bones could then be pulverized and thrown into the garden.

Get your own gravatar by visiting Belinda Dillon
#5. November 4th, 2014, at 7:31 PM.

What about forgotten, uncooked sweet potatoes that have moldy spots on the outside with soft spots on the inside? I read once somewhere no moldy veggies, but then again I also read no bones or meat!! Obviously the worms know what they want! Also, while I’ve got your attention, my worms are multiplying like crazy and I’m wondering if they are running out of room in their rubbermaid bin and it seems time to harvest just after I harvested a month ago? I find globs of them crawling up the sides to the top.

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