A good question from Rich:
I put scaps into 5 gallon bucket and when ready mix with
bedding. This could be a month or later. at what point are the scaps
too rotted and how can I tell. Thanks for such a great website. I love
composting wih worms.
That is a really intriguing question, Rich – and I’m pretty sure you are the first person to ask me!
Let me start by saying that I am the KING of leaving rotting scraps – and newly set up bins containing bedding and scraps – to sit before unleashing the worms on them! A prime example of this was when I set up the bins for my YouTube videos (featuring the ‘basic’ and ‘deluxe’ worm bins). I seem to recall leaving them for at least a month before adding any worms.
Did I happen to mention that I’m a chronic procrastinator?
All joking aside – here’s the deal…
Obviously, the longer you leave these materials, the less value they are going to offer the worms – same goes for something like manure sitting outside in a pile, since eventually it’s basically just going to be rich soil. Water-rich food wastes sitting in some sort of container with no drainage and no absorbent bedding materials to wick up excess moisture are going to get nasty pretty quickly, and if you left them indefinitely would likely just turn into a horrifying sludge. If you added worms to this (or added it to a worm bin) it wouldn’t be pretty.
I’m the type of person who would STILL be trying to figure out how to make the stuff into worm food though – I would mix it with a LOT of dry absorbent bedding and would then leave it to sit for a while longer before attempting to use it.
Generally speaking, waste materials that have been left to sit with adequate bedding (i.e. lots of aeration and moisture absorption) will decompose aerobically and will be fine to use for worms at any time. You’ll likely see a proliferation of various types of fungi (molds etc), and eventually there won’t be much in the way of actual food waste left. Nevertheless, if you moisten and mix up the remaining materials it can still be used as a good food source.
I actually have a bin that’s been sitting with bedding and food waste for several weeks now – I think I’ll make a video showing what it looks like, and how I get it back in good shape to receive worms (thanks for the inspiration Rich!).
Hope this helps!