Monthly Archives: September 2014

Composting Worms Are Dead

My composting worms are dead. I learned a difficult lesson about composting worms and rabbit urine. I have always said that worms love rabbit poop. And composting worms are also manure worms. If you have a pile of manure then you will have composting worms.

In the past, I would add some rabbit poop pellets to the worm composting bin. The worms would devour it. I got this rabbit poop from Ebay. The poop pellets were always dried first and maintained their shape. They also never had an odor. So the seller, somehow, separated the urine from the poop.

Last spring I collected rabbit poop from a breeder. Everything was mixed in–poop, urine, wood shavings and rabbit hair. I added a lot to my garden with good results. I had some left over and it had morphed into one mass instead of the poop being in separate pellets.

I decided that the worms would do a good job aerating it and separating it out instead of having this smelly mass of rabbit poop etc. So I added some worms and more finished compost from my compost pile.

They were not very quick to disburse. They stayed mostly in their huddled mass. I had a light on them so I didn’t understand this. Some worms were flipping out like when they don’t like the light. I would describe that as gyrating their body a lot. So I covered them and checked them an hour or two later.

Composting Worms Are Dead in the New Bin

They had spread out somewhat but they looked very unusual. None of them were moving–the composting worms are dead! I was totally shocked. Nothing like this had ever happened before.

After some research on the internet I found that:

  • Worms don’t like ammonia and this definitely smelled like ammonia.
  • Worms don’t do well with the salts in rabbit urine.
  • I needed more carbon in the bin such as shredded newspaper or wood shavings to balance out the high nitrogen in the manure.

Check this link for more information on rabbit urine.  My big question is why did they burrow down into the compost. Why didn’t they try to escape? Worms are famous for escaping the worm bin. If conditions are not right they just leave. See the video below. Maybe they were trying to locate themselves in the compost part of the mixture and the ammonia was just too much for them.

I certainly learned a lesson from this painful experience. If you are going to use rabbit poop use the dried pellets that you can get on Ebay. I would be interested in any comments or experiences people have had with this situtation. Please email me:

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Goldfinch Eating Zinnias

Goldfinch Eating ZinniaWhile looking at my zinnias the other day, I saw a bright yellow “something” wrapped around the flower. It almost looked like a slug the way it was wrapped around the flower. But it was bright yellow! Then I realized it was a goldfinch eating zinnias! What a delightful surprise! This is the first time that I have seen a goldfinch eating zinnias. Actually this is the first time I have planted Cut and Come Again Zinnias. I usually plant zinnias with much larger flowers.

Cut and Come Again ZinniasYears ago I discovered the American Goldfinch because it loves the Purple Coneflower (Echinacea) seeds. Purple coneflowers are perennials so they come up every year without any work on my part. After the goldfinches were common visitors I put up an American Goldfinch feeder which they love.  Goldfinches are beautiful birds and a delightful visitor to any garden.  The males are brilliantly yellow in the summer.  They change to a more drab olive color for the winter.  This is the same color as the females year-round.  Alas, in the bird world the males are gorgeous and the females are rather drab looking.

Goldfinch Eating Zinnias Can Be a Problem

While researching this on the internet, I read that sometimes the goldfinches destroy the flowers.  That did not happen in my case. Though I did see the bird ripping out the petals.  A bird expert suggested that they do this to see if the seeds are ready.  In the video below you can see the petal being ripped out and dropped in the garden.  Then the goldfinch continues to peck at the flower looking for seeds.  If you want to attract goldfinches to your garden plant purple coneflowers, small sunflowers and cut and come again zinnias.  For the perfect goldfinch feeder and perfect seed check out my post on the American Goldfinch Feeder.  Watch the video below to see goldfinches feasting on zinnias.