Mold, Using a Worm Bin Lid (issues)
Greetings Worm Farming Heroes.
In this issue of the Poop Scoop…
1. What to do About Mold (if anything)
2. To use a Lid or not to (you’ll find this interesting)
This letter will be much shorter than others, (I know, FINALLY!) 😊 as I am writing a couple of articles for other websites.
1. What to do About Mold in the Worm Bin
Noob worm farmers literally freak out at the sight of mold.
1. They get their shipment of worms and are extremely excited.
2. They place their new friends in their new home.
3. They place the lid on, and
4. They return a couple of days later to lift the lid only to find…MOLD!!!
Now they’re asking themselves…
a) What went wrong?
b) Will mold hurt my worms?
c) Will mold hurt me?
d) Will mold take over the whole worm bin?
These are legitimate questions for ANY new worm farmer and the answer is
NOTHING and NO NO NO!
Mold is everywhere. It’s outside, inside, in your digestive system, throughout your body (as a fungus), and in your lungs. So, it’s naturally going to be in a worm system, and it SHOULD be.
Molds come in many species and colors and certain molds eat certain things. Molds that are found in a worm bin are carbon feeders. A worm bin will have both, high carbon amounts, and high nitrogen amounts.
Nitrogen source foods also contain carbon, thus is a carbohydrate (carbon + hydrogen + oxygen) which bacteria favor more. Most molds are safe, but some can contain mycotoxins. I’m not trying to scare you, just being up front and as factual as I can.
You have nothing to be concerned about (unless you have highly sensitive lungs). We’re not culturing mycelium. We’re culturing worms.
How do we get rid of the mold/fungus/mycelium? We don’t and really can’t, but we CAN bring it down to a controllable minimum.
you find mold or fungus growing, simply break it apart and stir it into the first few inches of bedding.
Mycelium spread out on the forest floor like a web and interconnect with each other, like highways feeding and communicating becoming one giant organism.
But there are a few things to consider when it comes to mold and fungus. Although this is the sign of a healthy bin you need to make sure your worms remain happy and eating.
You worms will continue to go about their business and will enjoy eating the mold, fungus, and bacteria because…IT’S THEIR FOOD.
You may have to repeat it again, but you'll eventually get it under control.
2. To use a Lid or not to
There can be many reasons to use a lid or not to. Many of these reasons are strictly personal preference and it’s not wrong whichever way you go.
If you use a lid, you’re probably trying to…
A) Keep worms in
B) Keep moisture in
C) Keep bugs
D) Keep the spouse happy 😊
I’ll quickly go over these main topics one at a time.
A. Keeping your worm squirm in the system – If you use a lid, you’ll also want some ventilation holes for the exchanges of gasses. The holes at top do not have to be big because the exchange of gasses happen very slowly.
Worms, micro and macro organisms need very little oxygen to thrive. The holes should be at top just under the lip or edge of the container. You can also drill some holes at the bottom, but many people do not. Oxygen still finds a way in. As methane or carbon gasses leave, oxygen is drawn in like a vacuum.
If you want to keep the lid off, no problem. The worms will remain in the bedding because they do not like the dry environment.
The interior sides of the system will dry out and worms usually never want to come out and climb dry walls. As long as the bedding is favorable, you’re fine.
B. Keeping moisture in
– Using a lid will definitely keep moisture in, but if something goes wrong with the bedding (acidic, anaerobic, heat), your worms will be “climbing the walls” or sometimes just hugging the interior walls and floor in the bedding.
You probably have too much nitrogen source foods. This is one of the MANY reasons to add plenty of carbon material. It keeps the bedding well aerated (allows the exchanging of gasses), keeps the system cool, and absorbs acids AND it’s food too.
If you don’t want to use a lid, then just add what I call a “False Lid” to the top of the bedding. You can use damp sheets of newsprint, carboard, or plastic. Use whatever you want to.
Years ago, I used a plastic cutting board sheet. You can also use plastic bagging or what’s getting popular these days is bubble wrap.
This allows you quick access to the bin, plenty of air, and the ability to monitor what’s going on without accessing the system or disturbing the worms.
If using a lid, don’t be surprised to see worms crawling EVERYWHERE. They will crawl on the sides and under the top of the lid. This doesn’t mean that anything is wrong. You have just expanded their territory due to the moisture retention on the walls and ceiling. Not only will you see worms, but you’ll also see their poop everywhere. This is another reason why some worm farmers would rather not use a lid.
C. Keep bugs out – Not using a lid will allow bugs (especially fruit flies) free access, but so does adding holes to a bin if you don’t use some type of mesh screening over the holes.
Landscape fabric or even nylon/metal window screening over the ventilation holes will keep the flies and other pests from gaining access. This can be hot-glued on to a simple static bin, like a Rubbermaid container, metal container, etc.
If the bedding is high in nitrogen foods, you’ll have flies come-a-running.
Always burry the food
scraps in pockets under the bedding by a few inches. This keeps the smell down. Add plenty of carbon material and cover well with the false top we discussed earlier.
Adding a light dusting of Diatomaceous Earth preferably (or other forms of beneficial mineral dust) on top will GREATLY reduce the urge for fly to come and lay their larvae in the bedding.
D. Last but not least, keep the spouse happy – DUDE! You’re on your own! ☹
Well I thought this was going to be short, but alas, I failed. Oh well. I hope you benefitted from this latest “Scoop”. 😊
BTW, if you leave the lid off, you’re less likely to have mold issues in the presence of light. Again, just stir the bedding up and let the worm take care of the rest. Everything will be back to normal…quickly.
Compost something amazing!
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