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Correcting my bedding - replacing leaves with something new  RSS feed

 
Jay Crandall
Posts: 2
Location: Metro Detroit, Michigan, USA
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Hello guys, I started my wormbin back in November with a pound of red wigglers. They are certainly troopers and have increased in numbers since then despite my rookie mistake of using leaves as the predominant bedding along with lesser amounts of paper towel/some shredded paper and cardboard.

My bin is large and leaves take awhile to break down so understandably there is still a great deal of leaves in the bin. However, they dry up every few weeks and I add water to my coffee grounds when I add them to keep the leaves moist. But I’m to the point where I want to start removing leaves and replacing them with shredded paper. It takes them so long to break these down that they can't even consume the food I give them in time - I now have small bugs also living amongst the worms.

Is taking out the dry leaves and replacing them a good idea, and is there any specific way I should go about doing it? I feel like I only want to remove dry, full leaves and keep the ones that have a bit of mold on them for microbial food purposes but I would love to hear your opinions and suggestions.
 
Keith Odell
Posts: 68
Location: Indiana
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Jay,

A lot will depend on what you want. Leaves are one of their natural foods vs. shredded paper.
If you are wanting lots of compost, then add moist greens that they'll eat - cantaloup is a favorite or pre-composted goop.
Don't mix it up though or you'll have a classic hot composting bin and that would be bad :-O
I tend to give them a little of everything and not a lot of anything.

Also, a large bin with not a ton of worms is going to take some time to get to a population that will consume a large bin's worth of leaves.
If you're happy and they are increasing and happy, I would carry on.

Good luck.
Keith
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1357
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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Wormbins should not be "big", instead they should have a huge surface are, think big squash leaf vs a big dense squash.
Red worms eat about 1/2 their weight per day so if you bought 2lbs they will only eat 1lb of waste per day.
They take 3 months to double population so if you got 1000 worms (1lbs) 6 months ago you should have about 4000 (3lbs),
But it is most likely going to be less.

Worm eat bacteria mostly and leaf litter is fungically dominated so it is not their favourite food to eat.
Instead they like things from the herbaceous layer....grass, lettuce, kale, mellon, etc.
The greater the surface area of the bin, the airflow and temp (up to 85F) the faster they will make compost.
The more shredded the food the faster they make compost.

You should not have to add water to your compost. This means that you are not giving them enough "greens+fruits peels/pits".
If you have too much coffee ground grow mushroom and not worms/worm compost.

I then to not really put paper in my worm compost instead I just put it in an empty tray about it, dry and use it for order control.
Once it gets wet, I then trash it or sometime incorporate it in the bin.

What the worms really do is farm bacteria that eat the greens+fruit peels and then once the bacteria are "ready" they only eat the bacteria.
 
Jay Crandall
Posts: 2
Location: Metro Detroit, Michigan, USA
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Hey thanks guys! To clarify I certainly feed my worms more than just coffee grounds, I was just explaining how I add water to get the rest of the grounds out of the press and add moisture to the leaves because they do get dry. My bin is large lengthwise not depthwise, so it's good to hear that huge surface area is preferable. I wasn't aware they enjoyed melon so much - I've been avoiding citrus obviously and in turn denying them most fruits beyond banana peels so that's great news as we start to roll into melon/cantaloupe season. I keep my wormbin in my (finished and heated, but still probably in the low 60's) basement so as the temperatures outside start to rise this Spring they may start consuming a bit faster.

I was really only concerned because:
a) the wormbins the man I received my worms from and the ones at my university were composed of "black gold" predominately after this same time period, while mine is still a great deal of leaves

and

b) there are some small bugs living amongst my worms now, which I read can be due to them not consuming their food fast enough.

I appreciate the clarifications and advice guys! I just shredded and fed some celery leaves and banana peels to my lil' fellers a few minutes ago. If you have any pointers or concerns I should have regarding these small insects please do share.
 
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