I’ve been enjoying my (weird and whacky) experimental systems lately, and figured why stop now?!
There are two “bedding” (ish) materials I have been wanting to test out more extensively for quite some time: 1) natural fabrics and 2) hair. I have dabbled with both of them in the past (adding them to various systems), but never as part of a focused experiment.
In a lot of ways I think degradable fabrics (eg cotton, linen, hemp – even bamboo!) could be be a sort of “ultimate” bedding material (definitely in the group I refer to as “primary” bedding materials) since they tend to be highly absorbant, highly breathable, yet quite resistant to breakdown (high C:N).
Hair on the other hand, while similarly resistant to breakdown – may offer more long-term food value due to the higher nitrogen content.
As the title probably implies, I am using old shirts (at least initially) for this system. One of them I know for sure is 100% cotton -but I am not so sure about the other ones (since their tags are gone or unreadable). In some ways I actually hope I end up with a shirt that contains synthetic fibers, so I can demonstrate why you want to AVOID these! lol
If I had wanted to be really lazy, I probably could have just tossed the shirts in as-is, but I knew it would be a lot more annoying working with the system later on – plus the fabric would likely take longer to break down.
SO, I cut/ripped the shirts into small pieces…and yes, this is even more annoying and time consuming than ripping up cardboard by hand! lol
Most of the hair I’ll be using will come from my cat, Fargo, but since I buzz my noggin regularly I will be including some of my cranial vegetation (haha) as well.
NOTE: I have read reports of human hairs (longer ones, if I am not mistaken) potentially harming worms when they get tangled up in them. I will keep a close eye on things, but I suspect I’ll be fine based on the kind of hair I am using (soft cat hair, and very short human hair).
The bin I am using is very small (maybe 4 gallons or so) and getting the system up and running was very straight-forward. I started by adding my shirt fragments in the bottom…
…and then the bag of hair.
I’ve decided to keep the feeding simple, settling on carrot peelings/cuttings (something we tend to produce a lot of) as my food of choice. Today I added a small bag of frozen peelings…
…before adding a fair bit of water and mixing everything around.
NOTE: My recommendation for closed-bottom plastic bins is to add as much moisture as you can without ending up with a lot of liquid pooling down in the bottom (you may need to mix everything well to ensure all the components are at their maximum water-holding capacity). If you do end up with a lot of pooling, simply add more dry materials.
I stocked/inoculated the system with worm-rich living material. The mix I have is quite dry, so I actually had to add even more water just to make sure everything was nice and moist.
Then even more (gentle) mixing…
…before adding a small plastic bag as a “lid” (great way to keep moisture in while promoting excellent air flow).
Similar to the walnut shells and banana peels experiment, it may take a long time before these materials (other than the carrots) break down. But, as always, I am excited to see how things turn out!
*** Fargo Approves of This Experiment ***