Speeding up the breakddown of bedding

steamyb(7)April 18, 2009

I recently harvested an 18 gallon Rubbermaid tote. With the worms, I started 4 more totes. I was wondering if anyone had a formula or method to speed up the breaking down of torn newspaper bedding.

I have read some info on worm tea production which said the microbes are feed molasses in the aerated water with the castings in a bag. I want to accelerate the production and growth of these same microbes in the bedding so the worms have something to eat quickly.

Any ideas?

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The only thing I can think to make the bedding break down faster is to add more food, but then you run the risk of the bin heating up or going anaerobic.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 12:40PM
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You could try mixing a hand full of finished compost into the damp paper to seed it with the proper microbes before adding it to the bin. It would probably only give you a weeks head start, but the breakdown would be uniform.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 12:51PM
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Thanks for the ideas, folks. Heat has never been a problem (I feed sparingly and toss the bins fairly often which gives a good air mix). The finished VC mixed in the bedding will distribute the microbes better than in the past. My worms always had some VC going with them to the new bin but only because I don't worry about every little crumb of VC. I am in the process of starting a flow-thru so I can get out of the harvesting business. I don't really like to play in poo.
How about a finished VC and warm water mix that I could pour over the torn newspaper bedding? Maybe add some molasses to give the microbes something to eat. And do this about a week before the worms are added? Whatcha think?

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 1:18PM
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I don't think one can rush vermicomposting. If rushed, then things start going wrong in the bin. The smaller the pieces, the faster the breakdown BUT newspaper get compacted when wet.

If the purpose of rushing is just to break down newspaper/cardboard faster, you may want to try it with an outdoor composting system and I don't mean vermicomposting. With vermis, PATIENCE is the key word.

The reason I have started VC is to get rid of kitchen scraps. I consider newspaper ...... bedding. If it becomes a food source, that is a bonus. I use my outdoor CP for most of the remaining paper.
For the worm bin I prefer cardboard to newspaper, to prevent the bedding getting too compacted.


    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 1:32PM
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If you are trying to give new bedding a kick start, what you are proposing should work. Anything you do a week before the worms are added should help. If the bedding is already moist, I would not pour water through it, but just mix in some compost, either VC or thermaphilic.

Once your flow through gets established, I think you will find that everything breaks down faster just because the air flow is better.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 1:40PM
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Thanks again folks. You both make good points. I should just be happy with the results I am having with the indoor tote and get the other systems (the flow-thru and the 4x3x2 big box) up and running.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 3:05PM
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To reduce the decomposition time of the food in your composter you may want try some yarrow (Achillea millefolium) leaves. This is something I have just heard today (from Sharon at barefoot herbs), not tried it myself yet.

Here is a link that might be useful: Barefoot herbs

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 3:22PM
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Worms do eat. Worms ingest whatever is decomposing in the bin and is soft enough for them to ingest without teeth, However, they do not obtain their nutrition from the "food" in the bin. Worms derive their nutrition from the microbes that decompose the food and bedding in the bin. If the worms eat it, it decomposes faster.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 1:04PM
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Thanks for sharing.............

    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 7:10AM
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shred your papper up super finely this will ensure fast break down. it does take a lot of work which most people don't even want to do.

you can simply pre compost the bedding. if you have an outdoor compost compost stuff their and once it's a little aged and broken down move it into your vermicompost. your composts will obviously have to be at different stages in order for this to happen i mean you cannot just build compost and a worm bin and expect to use the compost in your worm bin right away.

what I have been doing was i collect all my scraps in a 5 gallon bucket. let it rot in their for a couple weeks. then feed it to the worms. the stuff is all mushy and moldy and soupy as well you can add some news paper/bedding probably in the future and it will start to grow microbes i would assume only problem it might heat up the first day.

using worm tea back in your bin is something i wouldn't even do. you can't keep feeding your worms their own poop that has been diluted they will most likely die off slowly they can only eat their poop so often

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 6:35PM
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