“I am experimenting with recycled newspaper sludge from work as bedding/feed. The worms seem to be happy in it, but the green food seems to take a long time to break down. Chunks of lettuce are still crisp after three weeks. Is there any way to speed up how fast food breaks down?” ~ Justin Houghtelling
One excellent tip contributed by Bill of Nevada, is to freeze all food scraps in the freezer for a period of time and then allow them to thaw before adding to the worm bed. Bill mentions…
“By the way, I put all of my scraps in the deep freeze for a couple of weeks and then thoroughly defrost them prior to feeding. This starts the breakdown of the cellular structure and hastens the composting process. Worms, after all, have no teeth, so their food has to be good and sloppy before they can slurp it up.”
…he continues on to say…
“When I take the “fresh” scraps out of the freezer they are quite soft and soupy. I pour the liquid from the plastic bags right into the bin also. Using this method my bin remains quite moist, without adding any other liquid.”
Thanks to Bill here.
This is something you might also like to try Justin.
Alternatively if you don’t want to use space in your deep freeze you could mulch any large green matter (such as the lettuce leaves) before adding it to the bin. A simple food processor will do the Job and a couple of pulses are all it takes.
Breaking up the larger leaves into many small pieces in such a way allows for a greater volume of surface area to be exposed and will again speed up decomposition. You can also bury the material just under the surface of the bedding to speed the process up further still.
Of course, you could also simply break the material up by hand before adding to the bed using a basic ripping method, but the smaller the pieces of material, the faster they will decompose and become utilized by the composting worms.
dear jjustin: this is my comment related to your situation….i have work with paper sludge that comes directly from a mill shooter with a 23% moist content, i did some chemical characterization in order to free it as a hazardous waste in baja california, later we did the worm bedding mix with other materials mainly green stuf and horse manure, and yes every time we would follow the indications found in books or by experts nada would happen …the worms would eat something but not much, some flys and ants would start circuling in us and we had to clean out our act…this could be one possible cause…paper sludge is rich in minor elements, minerals and the clays that the paper manufacturer originally used to comform that type of paper…we were using general ledger or prnting recycle postconsume cellulose and later it was being transform in to toilet paper and other sanitary products incuding dipers, my sludge was the shorter fiber or cellulose i just could not reincorporate in my process, granulometry (size particles and cracks in the betting are key important because of light and dryness, that the worms hate….the worms will grow faster and better if you only give them the sludge…they will consume around 7-10% body weigth/day more or less and will dish out a soil rich in nitrogen …howeber if you liquified the greens in a blender with water or with what you migth collect from canning companies that recolect unsold food products that have some water ( beens, cocktail fruits etc) you can make a great food diet for your worms and save on water cost…..i will go back to my binders and see what i can get you as information but if you keep it simple and monitor ph and % humidity you will keep them happy and fat……also if you have mezquite trees around , grind the pods ( they contain a lot of vegetable oils omegas and others that could contribute to their helath…keep an eye on birds, bees and ants…they can smell worms a mile a way!! saludos carlosy