Garbage can full of old lettuce – the worms should enjoy this!
On Friday, my worms got a nice treat in the form of 60-70 lb of old lettuce (just a guesstimate) that my dad picked up for me at the local food bank.
I haven’t been feeding these worms as often as I had hoped (a lot of my own food waste is being diverted into other systems, such as the Worm Inn), so I was quite pleased to receive an email from my contact at the food bank last week. They don’t end up with all that much in the way of perishable worm-friendly food materials, but I’ve been more than happy to take it off their hands whenever they do!
I was originally planning to chop the lettuce up quite a bit before adding it to the bed (to help speed up the decomposition process), but didn’t end up having enough time to do so. No biggie though – I’m sure it won’t take long for the material to produce a nice microbial buffet for the worms to munch on!
Adding the lettuce to the bed simply involved pulling away a bunch of straw/hay from the top, dumping it in, then covering it up.
We’ve had many sunny (and rather mild) days as of late so I think my only concern at this point is that I might end up overheating the system. Unfortunately, my indoor temperature monitor doesn’t seem to be receiving accurate readings from the probe buried in the bed, so I will definitely need to do some manual readings this week (not a big deal, since I want to check on things anyway).
I’ll definitely keep everyone posted!
How do you plan to harvest worms come spring time with so much material mounded up? What are you going to do with all the unused material (which looks 2-3ft deep)? What do you think about adding green manure to heat up your winter windrow? I think you have a great site! Keep up the good work!
Good question, Mike
Hopefully I won’t have to deal with sorting through too much straw etc. The central core of the heap DOES contain a lot of material that is a bit more uniform, and I plan to also start adding a lot more aged manure in an effort to concentrate the worms somewhat. All the extra straw/hay will be an excellent material to keep on top of my vermicomposting trenches this year, so it certainly won’t go to waste.
If you’re just a regular gardener, or don’t have the muscle-power to haul in the manure et al for an outdoor winter worm operation, try this: Dump all your leaves and all the leaves you can beg from your neighbors into a long “windrow” in a sheltered place (so it doesn’t just blow away). My neighbors are happy to donate, as our city charges lots for leaf removal. I put my long mound of leaves on the edge of a concrete parking area, overlapping the dirt. And while my red worms are happily composting my kitchen scraps indoors, my leaves get full of super-fat nightcrawlers, who just seem to find and inhabit my leaf pile. I use the indoor VC for my seedlings and the partially broken-down, nightcrawler filled leaves for mulch (which is long gone by early July). Works well and not as hard on your back as hauling manure.