Is this wood good? AKA attempting to make my own millipede substrate

BepopCola

Arachnobaron
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Oct 14, 2018
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343
I spotted some nice looking fallen branches on a walk, and I was inspired to try and make some supplemental substrate for my millipedes. I've attached pictures of the wood in question. This is my first try at this, so I had a few questions:

1. I believe these are the remains of oak branches (correct me if I'm wrong). I found them under some oak trees.
I broke a couple of larger pieces apart with my hands. As far as the color, does this look like a proper level of rot? (I threw out some that were a darker grey.)

2. I kept the insides, but should I have kept the outer bark, is it useful?

3. The smaller branches, I can't break these apart with my hands, but they snap in half easily. Are they ok to use as is?

4. Some branches have some moss/lichen on them I think. Is it ok to leave this on there?

5. I stuck it all in the freezer. I'm going to thaw it out and bake it at 200F for 2-3 hours tomorrow. There were some tiny earwigs and other little critters (no isopods) running around as I tore the wood apart... is it fine to leave their dead little bodies in there?

And that is all I have so far, I think. Any help is appreciated!
 

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MES

Arachnosquire
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Oct 3, 2017
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128
Those pieces look great! Tearing off the bark is fine, but it's also fine to leave on, less work for you. The small branches are fine, they will probably rot over time, and if anything else just be something else for your millies to interact with. I'm not totally sure about the lichen, but just to be safe, I would take it off. I would also suggest removing the dead critters from the wood if you can, it just makes everything cleaner.
Hope this helps!
 

SDCPs

Arachnolord
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Feb 8, 2012
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1, 2, 3, 4: yes, although the bark, I would probably break off and just incorporate in the substrate so they have access to the inside directly
5 I wouldn't bake it at so high a temp, maybe like 130-150 just to kill whatever survived the freeze. Too high and you kill all the bacteria and fungus and this seems to result in a pest population explosion of microorganisms. You just want to kill the larger stuff. The smaller stuff best to let that survive so there's still balance. At least this has been my experience.
 

BepopCola

Arachnobaron
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....5 I wouldn't bake it at so high a temp, maybe like 130-150 just to kill whatever survived the freeze. Too high and you kill all the bacteria and fungus and this seems to result in a pest population explosion of microorganisms. You just want to kill the larger stuff. The smaller stuff best to let that survive so there's still balance. At least this has been my experience.
Very helpful advice, guys, thank you!
And well, my oven only goes down to 200. Could I bake for a shorter amount of time? Do you think I'd still need to bake at all?

Edit: Can you slowcook wood for substrate use?
 
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SDCPs

Arachnolord
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Very helpful advice, guys, thank you!
And well, my oven only goes down to 200. Could I bake for a shorter amount of time? Do you think I'd still need to bake at all?

Edit: Can you slowcook wood for substrate use?
Try the "warm" temperature setting if there is one? That's exactly what I did. I'd leave it in for 5 hours or so...basically for a decent time until whenever I got around to pulling it out.

In all honesty though, if you go the 200° route and the wood is just supplemental...read...not the major subatrate ingredient...it should be recolonized rapidly by the organisms in the enclosure without issue, so don't stress! I do think a lower temp for longer is better though
 

BepopCola

Arachnobaron
Active Member
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Oct 14, 2018
Messages
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In all honesty though, if you go the 200° route and the wood is just supplemental...read...not the major subatrate ingredient...it should be recolonized rapidly by the organisms in the enclosure without issue, so don't stress! I do think a lower temp for longer is better though
That's good to hear. My current substrate, about 7 pounds, came from bugsincyberspace, and I added a bag of AGB mix. I have about 4 inches of substrate on one half of the tank and 3 inches on the other, but I want a nice even 5 inches.
As far as a base,
I have some leftover organic potting soil (Espoma AP8 8-Quart Organic Potting Mix) from another project.
It's 45-55% sphagnum peat moss, peat humus, perlite, earthworm castings, and limestone-- Active ingredients: Ectomycorrhizal fungi & Endomycorrhizal Fungi. This was already frozen, but not baked.

Do you think it would be safe to mix this with the shredded wood? Would I be better off finding some coco fiber or pure dirt?
 

MES

Arachnosquire
Joined
Oct 3, 2017
Messages
128
That's good to hear. My current substrate, about 7 pounds, came from bugsincyberspace, and I added a bag of AGB mix. I have about 4 inches of substrate on one half of the tank and 3 inches on the other, but I want a nice even 5 inches.
As far as a base,
I have some leftover organic potting soil (Espoma AP8 8-Quart Organic Potting Mix) from another project.
It's 45-55% sphagnum peat moss, peat humus, perlite, earthworm castings, and limestone-- Active ingredients: Ectomycorrhizal fungi & Endomycorrhizal Fungi. This was already frozen, but not baked.

Do you think it would be safe to mix this with the shredded wood? Would I be better off finding some coco fiber or pure dirt?
That should be safe to add as long as it doesn't contain fertilizer, which it sounds like it doesn't because it's organic.
 

SFA

Arachnoknight
Joined
Sep 4, 2016
Messages
164
Looks awesome! I always leave the bark and lichen on mine, they like to nibble on the lichen and I’ve never had an issue. I also sometimes collect up nice big pieces of bark just to use as hides.
 
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