Composting With Worms: Is It Safe For All Plants?
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If you’ve ever had composting worms in your home or garden, then you know how helpful they can be. They make composting faster and more effective by digesting plant matter and releasing nutrients into the soil. However, not all plants are suitable for worms, which means some care needs to go into planning your setup with them in mind. Composting worms will eat most types of organic waste, such as fruit skins, egg shells, coffee grounds, leftover veggies, or paper towels. They don’t have any preferences for leafy greens or celery stems; they’ll happily munch on both.
Their diet is so neutral that many gardeners have found that worms work best when used as a neutral third party in a war between friendly plants (i.e., the ones you want to stay). If you decide to get some composting worms and integrate them into your home or garden space, there are some things you should know about these small helpers before bringing them home.
What plants are composting not safe with?
Gardeners often use composting to kill weeds since weeds are often planted in the same box as plants. Because of this, compost has the potential to kill or harm almost any plant, including many common kitchen crops. In general, it’s best to steer clear of composting any of these plants:
Why is composting bad for strawberries?
Strawberries are sensitive to nitrogen, and even though they are in the same plant family as cabbage, they do not like to be fertilized with compost. Strawberries need a well-draining location with plenty of sun and good air circulation. They should be planted in the fall or early spring so they get established before the summer heat arrives. Avoid planting them in areas where the soil is compacted, or water collects after rain or irrigation. You can also grow strawberries in containers if you live in an apartment or condo without a yard.
Why is composting bad for Roses?
Roses are very susceptible to diseases spread by insects and pathogens in the soil, and Composting will expose your roses to these diseases. The best way to dispose of your old rose bush is to cut it up and place it in a landfill or with your yard waste.
Why is composting bad for citrus fruits?
Citrus trees are susceptible to soil-borne diseases that can be carried over into new trees during transplanting. If you want to compost citrus fruits, make sure you do not plant them in soil mixed with composted citrus fruit scraps. Be sure to sterilize the soil before planting new trees or shrubs if you have used an old compost pile as a mulch base for your landscape plants.
Safe vegetables to compost with?
While composting isn’t safe for all vegetables, it’s best to keep an eye on the plants that are bad for composting. Vegetables such as carrots, celery, cucumbers, and radishes are safe to compost, and you can also compost with herbs, like cilantro.
Safe Herbs to compost with?
Herbs are another excellent option for composting. They’re often small and grow directly out of the ground, so they don’t require extra care or attention. Herbs are safe to compost with, but they won’t add much to the compost. Cilantro, parsley, and dill are all excellent options to compost with. You can also compost mint, but it’s best to add it to the compost after the soil has cooled down since mint is a very invasive plant. You don’t want it to spread to other parts of your garden.
Safe Flowers to compost with?
Many flowers are great for composting, especially when mixed with other materials. Tulips and hyacinths are great, but roses, daffodils, and many other flowers are better off being added to the compost pile as mulch around the garden. Some flowers to compost include marigolds, daisies, dahlias, and sunflowers. Be careful not to put poisonous flowers in the compost since gophers often eat composting worms.
Safe Trees to compost with?
Trees are great for composting, but it’s best to put them in the compost pile as mulch instead of as compost. Like many other plants, trees are better suited for mulching than composting. Mulch is an essential part of any garden, but it can be hard to find the right balance for your garden. However, trees are a great way to add some extra organic material to your garden. They add a lot of nitrogen and other nutrients to the soil while protecting it from erosion. However, only use trees that have died naturally.
Tips for Successful Composting
If you are new to the world of composting, here are some tips to get you started:
Keep it moist
To speed up decomposition, keep your pile covered with a tarp, lid, or plastic sheeting that lets air circulate through but keeps rain out if water drains away too quickly, add more brown material (like dead leaves) to soak up excess moisture from green plant matter like grass clippings and fresh weeds.
Mix in food scraps
Once you have your worm bin set up, you should always add food scraps. The best times to add food to your worm bin are in the morning or evening when the worms are less active.
Include greens and browns
Greens are fresh grass clippings, leaves, or fresh herbs. Browns are things like dried leaves, hay, or dried grass clippings. You want to make sure that you include both greens and browns.
Use the 3-bin composting method
The 3-bin composting method is a great way to keep your compost healthy and balanced. The first bin is for materials you want to break down quickly, like fresh grass clippings, and the second is for materials that will take a long time to break down, like tree bark. I have written about composting bins here: Why choose the VermiHut 5 Worm Composter?
Choose the right soil mix
The best soil for worms is a mix that is about two-thirds garden soil and one-third shredded or chopped up newspaper or cardboard. You can also use other organic materials, such as wood shavings, sawdust, or even shredded leaves.
Composting worms are helpful little creatures, but they’re not safe for all plants. It’s essential to keep an eye on the plants that composting is bad for, especially if you have a small preschooler who might not understand that the worms aren’t a toy. With a little bit of caution and care, composting worms are a great addition to any home or garden.