Using Peanut Shells In Worm Composting

“I have a friend who is the manager of a restaurant that uses an endless supply of peanut shells.  They are not salted outside the shell, but I wonder if they would make good food for Red worms.  I would mix them with horse manure and compost from leaves and grass. Thank You” ~ Ken Kaufmann

Hi Ken –

If I had an endless supply of peanut shells I would definitely use them for vermicomposting, but I’m not sure they would be considered a “good food” for Reds – more of a supplementary food, and something to help add structure (providing habitat and increased aeration) in a vermicomposting system.

According to the book “Basic Composting” by Eric Ebeling, peanut shells have a carbon to nitrogen ratio of 35:1. I am actually surprised it is that low – apparently lower than fall leaves – which are an excellent supplementary bedding/food material for worms, especially during colder months.

The main issue you will likely encounter is the fact that the peanut shells are quite tough and resistant to decomposition. They also don’t offer the moisture holding properties of some of the other great worm foods, such as manure and food waste.

You may want to try pre-composting them with grass clipping or manure before feeding them to the worms. This should help to moisten them and start breaking them down partially.

Bottom-line – I think that peanut shells could be a good long-term food for your worms, and I for one would certainly be interested to hear how you make out with them!

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