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i was reading the book "worms eat my garbage" and it talked about how worms eat things like rock dust or something like that to basically grind the food so they can digest it. however i was wondering is this a must have in your bin?

when i see people set up their bins on youtube i have watched countless of them not even mention putting in rock dust a slim few have but not a lot of them do it.

also i was wondering 2 other things

1. can i use basalt sand for this? the sand is pretty fine i think it's made for conrete you mix with concrete. it's just the sand itself if wet it does not do anything however it is powdery like.

2. is their any other alternatives then rock dust that anyone can get in their house? i tend to use coffe grounds and eggshells not sure if they do the same job but i would assume so

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Hi Jacob: I don't think there is anything that is a MUST other than not letting your bin dry out.

Fine ground egg shells will do the same job, or fine sand. I don't even know where to get rock dust or basalt sand and I won't even bother trying to find them. We are pamperingthe worms too much. I think they'll be happy just getting their food ( not over fed)

I agree Sue, there aren't many MUST's in vermicomposting, except the basics... With starting a worm bin for the first time seeming to be the most risky period for failure.  And then once things get going even the basics can be minimized.

However, I have come to believe that a steady supply of diverse additions to the worm bin(s) can lead you to expect an overall better outcome; healthier, more robust worms, and great quality vermicompost.  I haven't tested or compared this belief, it's just from my experience with worms AND from many others whom I've come to believe and respect.  One day I do want to get my VC evaluated from a lab to have some facts stare me in the face.

Your questions:

1. Try a little of the basalt sand in only a corner of a bin for a couple of months, and observe what does and does not happen.  I'd try it if I were you.

2. I can't think of anything else around the house except the soil you have outside your door.  I'm not sure but I think that most soils have some level of grit in them and small amounts of that (think "dusting") should be an OK amendment.  I currently don't, but in the beginning I added a handful of soil to each new bin per my reading of Mary Applehof's book.  Currently I do add UCG and eggshells on a regular basis.  My worms, like many other's, seem to really like UCG and crushed eggshells.  (I've been mixing them with fruit and vegetable waste, leaves, and compost and these "mixes" seem to really be a hit with the worm crowd.)

Thanks I was just wondering nothing big. Also I am currently using UCG on a daily basis not a lot of it but I add about 1-2 tablespoons per day. Also I add eggshells just not ground up they are crushed by hand only. I think I will not do the basalt sand experiment atm I want my worm population to thrive since I just started a few months ago but later in the future I will have to try it

how much ag lime do you put? i have a lot and need to get rid of it lol

I know.... they're paper munching machines.

Hello Jacob,

The rock dust does 2 things, first it can increase the pH (reduce acidity) and also it can give grit for the gizzard of the worm. Most worm bins will do just fine without adding rock dust or limestone. If you are having a problem with mites then adding limestone will help. By the way rock dust and limestone are kind of the same thing with only a slight difference.
 Coffee grounds will actually increase the acidity, but this is not always a problem as worms can tolerate a wide variety of pH levels.

Worms have an arsenal of microbes that help them break down food, and although they do have a gizzard (gizzards require grit, such as sand to operate) to grind food, the composting worms do not rely on this as heavily as the soil worms like nightcrawlers.

Respectfully,

Matthew Wilson

Worms Etc

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