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sk290October 29, 2009

Hello there,

I am a newbie and have been taking my time doing research and deciding whether or not I can get over the worms and bugs. Now I've located a very nice lady who is giving me a quart of worms so I can start my new bin this coming Saturday.

Panic has set in! I need to make sure I have a good home for these little things so I've gathered some grocery store bags (the brown ones) and started to shred them last night. I've read that ink can be harmful to worms which these bags have some of (Trader Joe's bags). I've also gathered some Chiquita banana cardboard boxes for the local store. Would that be okay or should I tear off the top of the boxes where it's printed? Guess I could cut it off with a knife and tear it off.

Any suggestions? It seems like everything has something printed on. Where do you get cardboard boxes without any printed logos and such?

I hope I don't end up killing the poor worms. Help please!!! :( :(

Sandra

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sbryce_gw

In general, printing on bags and cardboard boxes is not a problem. You want to avoid paper or cardboard with a slick, glossy surface, such as magazines or cereal boxes.

If there is any way you can get pieces of the banana boxes to go through your shredder, that will help.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2009 at 4:28PM
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jasdip

Newspapers, used computer paper, statements, egg cartons, the cardboard sleeve that goes around a cup of take-out coffee,
corrugated/cardboard boxes (the kind that folds flat) all these can be used for bedding. This is the perfect season to collect fallen leaves. I've got 3 garbage bags full of leaves for my bins.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2009 at 5:40PM
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rpondpa(5)

What is the problem with the slick, glossy surface? Is it the materials in the ink or the fact that it will take longer for the worms and bacteria to eat it?

    Bookmark   October 29, 2009 at 7:07PM
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rom.calgary.ab(3a)

I did the same as jasdip with the leaves. There's a leaf and yard waste drop off area by our community centre and I'm tempted to go take a few bags instead of drop some off but I'm not sure if we are allowed. I find leaves to be awesome mostly because it's free, most people throw it out.

Corrugated cardboard is probably some of the best bedding for a worm bin. If you can't shred it, tearing up by hand is pretty easy if you soak it in water for a while. The glue that keeps it together seems to be good worm food. A lot of boxes will have tape holding it together so you would want to remove before using or else you'll be picking tape out of your compost. It's also good to keep some corrugated cardboard on hand because it's good for soaking up excess moisture.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2009 at 7:07PM
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sbryce_gw

The problem with slick, glossy paper is the inorganic materials in both the paper, and the coating that is applied after the paper is printed.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2009 at 11:03PM
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fosteem1

There could be a couple things wrong with glossy paper. The first is not too bad. The older method of glossing paper was to polish it with clay. It makes a very slick slightly water proof paper. It can take a while to break down. The polished paper usually had more expensive inks. They have higher concentrations of bad chemicals in them. Brighter colors like cadmium yellow. The worms can handle the inks in low concentrations.

The other thing is worse. Printers are now starting to laminate a layer of Plastic onto the surface to make it shinny. An increasing amount of display boxes have this plastic on them. It is extremely thin. When i first started finding it. I found i could rip the paper and not notice the plastic coating. But you will always be able to find it inside the bin, after the worms have eaten the paper off the plastic. At that point you have to pick it out of the finished compost one bit at a time.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2009 at 11:12PM
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sk290

That's great to know that my Chiquita banana boxes will work since I can have as many boxes as they have. I don't have a shredder I can use for the cardboard so I hope that soaking it first really makes it easier. My hands and fingers are still sore from tearing up the Trader Joe's bags. lol

About the leaves, don't you have to compost it before hand so it doesn't heat up your bin? Though I read that somewhere...

Thanks everyone. You're awesome! :)

Sandra

    Bookmark   October 29, 2009 at 11:43PM
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fosteem1

You meed a large amount of leaves before they start heating up. If you want to feed leaves without pre-composting you can treat them like food or add a 3" layer to the top like using shredded paper.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2009 at 12:00AM
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sk290

Cool! I like using leaves since there's tons of them around. Thanks!

Sandra

    Bookmark   October 30, 2009 at 12:17AM
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rom.calgary.ab(3a)

Fresh leaves are sources of 'N' in a compost pile but dried leaves are sources of 'C' so would be more like bedding material. If you were intentionally trying to get a hot compost pile to heat up it's unlikely that you could get any significant heat without at least a couple cubic yards of material.

In a worm bin it's unlikely that you can get it that hot, even if you were trying to cook your worms. What is more likely is that it gets somewhat hot and they die from other problems. The heating is caused by bacteria multiplying and respiring oxygen at such a pace that there is noticable heat increase, if done right it can reach in excess of 150F.

I filled a tray in my worm factory with a LOT of cut up melon and dry leaves just to see what would happen. The temp got as high as about 92F in the top tray or so but never broke 100F. The worms stayed mostly in the trays below for a while but some moved up in the hot tray to eat some melon. Not saying this is good practice, I was just curious to see what would happen and I have multiple bins going to re-seed just in case. The lower trays did not suffer much from the heat but they got a little damp from all the melon.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2009 at 7:41AM
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gmw1

I have a query about newspapers which have been heavily exposed to cigarette smoke. I would like to use some of the paper to create newspaper shreddings for my bin, but am worried about the negative effects of tobacco on my bin.

I know tobacco is used as an insecticide in the garden. Would smoke affect the worms adversely?
thanks in advance,
Gina

    Bookmark   November 2, 2009 at 3:58PM
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rom.calgary.ab(3a)

If you're talking about a stack of newspapers that have been stored where somebody smokes then I want to say no, but have no actual experience with this. Tobacco may have insecticidal qualities but aren't those destroyed when burned/smoked?

Effects of second hand smoke on composting worms ... sounds like a good experiment.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 7:20PM
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gmw1

I had heard from the grocery store to be careful with Banana boxes, as they were generally impregnated with massive quantities of insecticides. I would doublecheck with the source of the boxes to see if that's true. It couldn't be good to add that to the bin~you might end up killing all the bacteriawhich breaks down the food.

I will go ahead and try the smokey newspapers, though. There is smoke, but no tobacco, and I need more black and white. The Sunday is all filled with color anymore!

    Bookmark   November 13, 2009 at 12:32PM
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gmw1

I have just had a couple of paper board egg cartons come my way. Has anyone used these as bedding in their bin? how does one shred it? will the color label be a problem or do I need to remove it? The label is printed on the box, it's not sticky paper, or anything.

Thanks!
Gina

    Bookmark   November 16, 2009 at 1:18PM
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rom.calgary.ab(3a)

Depends on how much you like to be in your bin. I've just put one in whole. Over time it absorbs moisture and becomes easy to tear up by hand. If that label is composed of plastics I'd remove it. Some colored labels will be mostly paper with a "plasticy" coating, the paper components decompose but the "plasticy" layer holds a lot of it together. It's easier to remove now than have to look at black lump later and wonder if it's something that may or may not decompose.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2009 at 7:00PM
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fosteem1

Egg crate is considered one of the best worm beddings. Just rip it up into small chunks. You can follow the creases on the cartons. Egg crate is just a mix of paste and long wood fibers sprayed onto a mold. The egg crate falls apart fairly easily when wet.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 12:40AM
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Katxena(z7 MD)

I wouldn't use banana boxes because of the very high levels of pesticides used on the 'nanners. When I started my bin, I mixed a brick of soaked coir with some paper and food. It worked out great. Now I use newspaper, cardboard, egg cartons and leaves as bedding (depending on what I can get for free at any given time.

If I were starting a bin, I'd probably still start with a brick of coir -- it gave the worms an immediate place to crawl around in, and is itself a food source.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2009 at 3:32PM
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