Horse Treats & Potato Peels & Banana Peels?

Question from Will:

My son has some horse feed that has mildewed, will it be ok for worm
feed? Its a regular brand of sweet feed that got wet. I have also been
saving my potato skins and banana peels for food as well any thoughts?

Hi Will,
Most farm animal “feeds”, and of course things like “Worm Chow” (yes it DOES indeed exist! lol) are actually excellent food materials for growing composting worms. BUT, they can be a little bit more challenging to use than your run of the mill food scraps. They tend to not only have more protein (i.e. nitrogen) in them, but they are often quite starchy – so there is definitely a good chance you will end up with a stinky, anaerobic mess if you add too much at once (especially in mixed with water first). In outdoor beds they can also attract more “critters” such as various flies (which will lay their eggs in the material, resulting in maggots), and perhaps even larger animals like rats, depending on your location.
If you feed this stuff in moderation, and up near the surface (make sure layers of bedding over top though), the worms should readily feed on it and, just generally, you should have great success with it.

As for potato wastes (including peels) – these are another starchy waste so they can be a wee bit tricky, especially if you are attempting to process a large quantity of the material. Too much starchy stuff added all at once can go anaerobic and start fermenting. My recommendation would be to make sure your potato skins etc are chopped up well and mixed with other waste materials and bedding when being added to the system.

Banana peels are a great choice for your worm bin, and can add some potassium (“K” of “NPK” fame. lol) to your vermicompost, but again I recommend making sure they are well chopped up and mixed with other wastes.

Hope this helps!

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    • Jeremy
    • April 3, 2013

    On the topic of banana peels… Sometime within the last two or three months I read online (can’t remember where, but could probably search for it if anyone wants me to) about how banana peals were not safe to give to your worms. It had something to do with a pesticide sprayed on them… Don’t think it was a very credible source nor do I know if it’s true or not, but I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if it were true. I have fed my worms many, many banana peels, and don’t think I’ve ever harmed the worms with them. However I have always noticed they are the absolute last things touched by any of my worms in any of my bins (Europeans, red wigglers(E.F and E.A.), blues, L. Rubellus, and L. Terrestris. I just assumed that was because they’re a very tough almost rope-like material. Anyways, since reading that I’ve been unsure what to do with the banana peels.

    Does anyone know if this is true or false?


    P.S. Sorry if I’m asking this in the wrong spot, was browsing and the above question just reminded me about it.

    • Bentley
    • April 3, 2013

    Hey Jeremy,
    If it is true, my hunch is that it’s a very minor impact. I’ve fed my worms countless banana peels over the years, and haven’t seen any evidence of harm being done. I agree with your hunch about the lack of appeal (“a peel” – yuk, yuk) – they are pretty tough, without a whole lot of food value in comparison to some of the other common waste materials.

    • octavio
    • January 29, 2014

    i have a snack plant in Suffolk County NY and if someone (any farm) is interested in potato skin waste let me know.

    • Debbie
    • October 4, 2020

    Hey Bentley,
    Started reading your website 12 years ago with my first worm bin while living in Australia. Thank you for your wisdom over the years!

    I am starting up my third bin after a long hiatus (lots of cross global and cross country moving), and I made the mistake of dumping a bunch of starch in my small two week old bin. Now that I am belatedly reviewing, I realize I made a mistake. Lots of mold on clumps of rice. But… now what? How do I fix this mistake? I’ve added tons more of cardboard. Some coffee since it’s dry and there is daily supply. Can I continue to feed worm friendly food? I worry about the worms going hungry without other food. Also because I want lots of reproducing worms! I regret not feeding the old cabbage I had saved instead.

    And I’m sure one of your tips is to stop being impatient and over enthusiastic!

    Thank you again!

    • Bentley
    • October 10, 2020

    Hi Debbie – wow, 12 years? That’s amazing. As for the rice – my advice is to either remove some of it, or just leave everything alone for a while (maybe with a small amount of fruit/veggie wastes). It is much easier to overfeed worms than starve them – especially with lots of moist cardboard in there. Things will work themselves out. I almost killed off my very first worm population by adding a huge amount of rice to a small bin. Wasn’t a mold situation – everything congealed and turned into a fermented anaerobic mess. lol. These worms can be pretty resilient creatures thats for sure.

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