Homemade Manure Revisited

Homemade Manure
My latest batch of “homemade manure” – yummy, yummy (for worms)!

It’s been quite some time since I’ve made any mention of my “homemade manure” concept (for those of you unfamiliar with the term, be sure to check out these blog posts: “Homemade Manure” & “Homemade Manure Mania“).

Just as a review, the basic idea here is that I am attempting to create a nutritious “homemade” material that provides all (or at least most) of the great benefits offered by some (aged) livestock manure (of course, not all manures are created equal). In my mind, an ideal worm food provides a well-balanced nutritional profile (thus encouraging the development of a diverse microbial population), while also providing some “structure” and the oxygen-availability that goes along with it (i.e. we don’t want a big, gooey, anaerobic mess).

The first time around, I was using a LOT of food waste – material I spent many hours blending up, I might add! While it was certainly fantastic stuff, my time is definitely a lot more valuable than that (spending a morning producing a tub of worm food just doesn’t cut it). As such, this time I decided to use poultry feed as the primary “food” component. For the “structure”, water-retention, and C:N balance, I used multiple types of “bedding”: shredded cardboard (and brown paper), fall leaves, and coco coir. To kickstart the microbial community, I mixed in some molasses and also added a scoopful of compost ecosystem material at the end.

Here are the photos to basically show the process of creating my latest batch of homemade manure:

Shredded Cardboard + Water
I filled the tub about half full with shredded cardboard then added lots of water (all said and done, it was probably around 2 or 3 gallons

Adding Molasses
After mixing/soaking cardboard & paper, I added some molasses

Fall Leaves
Next, some fall leaves I had on-hand

Poultry Feed
A few scoops of poultry feed

Coco Coir
Some coconut coir to soak up liquid pooling in bottom

Compost Ecosystem
Scoopful of “compost ecosystem”

Homemade Manure - Ready to Go!
Homemade manure, all ready for chow time!

Homemade Manure Gets Added to Winter Worm Bed
Adding homemade manure to winter worm windrow

As you can see, I decided to use the material right away in my big outdoor bed. I will likely make a few more batches of the stuff to REALLY help kick that system into overdrive in time for spring!

I am happy to report that making this time of homemade manure took far less time (would have been even faster if I had had the shredded cardboard all ready to go) since it was just a matter of mixing everything up.
I am very interested to see how the worms respond! I’ll certainly provide a follow-up at some point.

Stay tuned!

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    • Tammy Maynard
    • March 5, 2010

    Very interesting, Bentley!! I have a question…..what is the purpose of the molasses? I’m getting ready to start working on some outdoor beds and this sounds very interesting.

    • Bentley
    • March 11, 2010

    Hi Tammy,
    I have responded to you via email, but for the benefit of others, molasses is just a simple sugar source that can be readily used by microbes. So the idea here is to get the microbial population going as quickly as possible and help to generate some heat in the process.

    • Bob Collinsworth
    • April 11, 2010

    Hi Bentley:

    Your work with homemade manure is great. The idea is simple yet brilliant. Why not try (to the best of our ability) to mimic nature and if we fall short, we have at least given nature a head-start.

    You mention using this homemade manure in place of regular bedding in your video and posts. Doesn’t the heat generated create a danger for the worms? Can you balance the level of heat generated by increading the carbon (cardboard/leaves/coir/paper) ratio?


    • Bentley
    • April 22, 2010

    Hi Bob – sorry for the lengthy delay!
    When you are adding large volumes of rich waste materials to a system there will always be a concern about heating (unless it’s a winter system of course). If using this material to start up a worm bin I’d recommend increasing the ratio of bedding to food (especially if worms will be added right away) – this should definitely help to prevent any excess heating (or at least rapid heating). Just to be safe, you might want to monitor temps in the bin, and keep your lid off during the day etc to make sure everything is ok.

    • Louis
    • June 21, 2011

    What about placing a large volume of cardboard in a barrel with molasses, fish poo. Fill it up with water and bubble it away like compost tea. The bacteria would grow and the bubbles may break up the cardboard. After a week or so, it could be added to the worm beds. Been thinking about trying this as I have a lot of cardboard going to waste.

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