This question comes from Peter. He is a little concerned about some white fungi growing on his worm bin bedding.
I used damp cardboard as bedding material. But after some
time, I notice the growth of white moldy substance on some pieces of
damp cardboard. Can you please tell me what is the cause please? I
fed my worms with freshly chopped vegetables like cabbage, amaranth,
soybean pulp, etc.
It is important to remember that inside your worm bin is a complex ecosystem, chock full of countless varieties of microorganisms, such as fungi, bacteria, protozoans – along with many larger creatures, such as mites, nematodes, and of course the worms themselves. You may not see a lot of these organisms most of the time, but occasionally some of them will make their presence known when conditions are really to their liking.
This ecosystem is vitally important for the proper functioning of a worm bin. If you’ve ever tried to add worms to a totally new worm bin containing only moistened bedding along with some fresh food scraps, you may know that they often try to escape – this is why I recommend aging the bin before adding the worms. This way, by the time the worms are added there will be loads of microbes for them to feed on.
In your case, I would guess that some type of fungi (many different species can be white and moldy in appearance) is simply feeding on the cardboard soaked in the juices from the plant materials you’ve been adding. I definitely wouldn’t be concerned about this, unless of course it completely takes over the bin and causes the worms to want to escape (I have yet to see anything like that happen – I always view a decent amount of mycelial growth as a good thing).
One thing you would want to avoid is excess growth of green or black molds (especially the latter), since inhaling large quantities of their spores isn’t something you want to do on a regular basis. The good news is that large growths of mold only seem to occur when too much food is added, and when certain types of food are added. For example, if you added multiple slices of bread and simply left them to sit at the top of your bin there is a good chance they would be covered in mold in no time. In a well balanced system on the other hand, the worms and other bin creatures will keep excess fungal growth in check.
It might not be a bade idea to add a layer of fresh, dry bedding over top of the materials in your bin – this helps to keep the microbial growth down below where it belongs.
Hope this helps!
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