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November 14, 2016

Potato-Dangerous to worms?

Potato to be diced
Potato to be diced

Recently there was a debate in one of the Facebook groups that drifted off topic. It drifted into a debate about composting tomato, potato or members of the nightshade family of plants. During the debate I said I would create a mini worm bin with 25- 50 worms and feed potato to end the debate. The full debate can be seen here if you are a member of the group or join up

On Monday14 November 2016 I began the experimental tater feeding bin. The bedding is screened, Ph adjusted and sterile sphagnum peat moss. The bedding was sterilized by mixing with water and boiling for15 minutes. The bin was formerly a 2 pound margarine container. 50 red wigglers were added and fed with finely diced, white potato.

finely diced potato
finely diced potato
bedding and potato top fed
bedding and potato top fed

The intended time frame for the experiment is 4-6 weeks. I will make daily observations and post them weekly. Observations will include any noticed dead worms, need for moisture, if worms appear to be eating the potato and any other relevant observations. At the end of this experiment (presuming all the worms aren’t dead) I will count the worms and any cocoons to see what the final conclusion is.

My expected observations are that the worms will survive, produce a number of egg capsules and eat the potato.

For some fun, I challenge some readers to try this too. Let`s find out once and for all if the toxin (solanine) found in nightshade plants is indeed toxic to worms.

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Larry Shier


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  • How about potato Sprouts only? They will cause upset stomach in humans so we should not eat them but how about the worms?

    • Worms won’t eat the sprouts while they’re alive and growing. By the time the bacteria and microbes break it down enough for them to eat it isn’t a problem

  • Hi Larry, I apsis your investigative spirit! I saw the great debate unfold on FB. However I have a comment, the experiment methodology could be enhanced by having a control. Since the object of the study is the feed i.e. Potato you need a second group of same specie same container same amount of same kind bedding with same amount of DIFFERENT feed. Something accepted as standard feed. After the same period check for the outcomes above survival cocoons etc. best if run at the same time! Now, you can thank me later after a I’ve learned so much following your posts. But this is how you would have a near flawless experiment to silence your critics!

  • Would feeding them larger chunks affect the result? I mean larer chunks or potatoe are more likely to survive and sprout and maintain continuous solanine production?

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