Should citrus be added to the worm farm, or is it too acidic for the worms and the worm farm environment in general? I can tell you first hand that I have always added citrus to my worm farms in small quantities, with no adverse results. Citrus is in season at the moment, so there’s no better time than now to put it to the test on a larger scale with the intention of closely observing the results.
When testing something in the worm farm, I like to “blanket” a specific area in order to better see the worm interactions (or lack of) and also be able to closely monitor the surrounding area. I placed six juiced orange halves into one area of the worm farm. I peeled the skin off two of the orange halves and put it in a separate pile in the worm farm. The outer rind of the orange is the part that contains the most citrus oils, so I was keen to see if the worms would avoid it. It’s also a good chance to see if the worms would prefer the orange halves without the citrus oil rich peel.
I let the orange sit in the worm farm and after four days, I opened the lid to check in on it. When I lifted the worm blanket, I could see that some blue/green mould had begun to cover the oranges and they were beginning to show signs of breaking down. The orange with the skin removed was the most soggy. Some worms were seen near the orange, but when I gently lifted the oranges with a garden spade to look more closely, no worms were observed to be in or on the oranges themselves. The pile of orange skin was also beginning to decay, but no worms were observed feasting on it either.
Eight days into the orange experiment, the real action began to happen! Worms were flocking to the orange and in particular to the two halves with the peel removed. I wonder if they were preferring these because of the missing peel? Or could it be the lack of peel helping the oranges break down more quickly, which caused more worm interaction? Worms were wriggling over all the oranges and also the peel, which was placed in a separate pile. Surely if citrus/orange could harm the worms in any way, we would not be observing this kind of interaction.
Fifteen days since placing the oranges into the worm farm, it was almost all gone. A few pieces of peel still remained (perhaps because of the preserving qualities in citrus oil?), but they were very soft and will continue their decomposing journey over time. The worms had done their job and some very interesting observations were made along the way. To summarise the observations:
First, the worms seem to avoid the area of the worm farm blanketed with citrus. As it began to break down, they really got stuck into it. They first started with the orange that had the rind removed, but eight days into the experiment, they were observed to be in and around all of the orange in the worm farm. The oranges had grown green/blue mould, but this did not seem too deter the worms in any way. No ill effects to the worms or worm farm could be observed and I’m happy to report that all worms in the worm farm are active and in search of their next feed!
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