Bedding Materials for Worm Composting Bins - Uncle Jim's Worm Farm

Bedding Materials for Worm Composting Bins

Compost, Indoor Composters, Live Worms, Outdoor Composters, Red Worms
coconut coir bedding
Coconut Coir for Worm Bedding

Composting with worms requires a worm bin and bedding. The bedding is placed into the worm bin, so the worms have a comfortable place to live. The worms will also gradually eat the bedding, in addition to food scraps you feed them. Which materials can you use for worm bedding? You may find that combining two or three types of materials makes the best worm bin bedding.

Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm has pre-made worm bedding that you can buy. You can buy coconut coir and add your own worm bedding from materials found in your home. The good news is that there are multiple different beddings to choose from.

Bedding material should imitate a worm’s natural environment. To do this, the bedding should be:

  • Smooth and gentle (absolutely nothing that could cut their delicate skin!).
  • Porous enough to allow airflow (worms breathe through their skin).
  • Neutral pH balance of 7.
  • Moist (but not too moist — more like a wrung-out sponge)
  • Non-toxic.
  • Made of only materials that the worms can eventually eat.

Worm Bedding Materials

You might find many crazy ideas on the Internet about worm bedding. Uncle Jim’s advised beddings for your vermicomposting container are:

Fall Leaves are excellent for bedding as long as they have been composted before use.

Brown Corrugated Cardboard is easy to find at home. Most stores offer it free-of-charge if you ask. Your worms will like this type of bedding in the bin. Simply shred it or tear it into small pieces.

Shredded Newspaper is an excellent component in your worm bedding. Make sure it is natural and black-ink only. Run it through a home or office shredding machine. Avoid white office paper and printer paper, and newspapers with colored ink, junk mail, and envelopes that plastic windows – these will hurt your worms.

Straw and Hay can be very easy to find, depending on your location. You can find it, seasonally, at farms, nurseries, gardening supply stores, big-box hardware stores, and farm supply stores. These are a great addition to your worms’ bedding when used with other materials.

Aged Manure from Livestock or Horses as long as it is not fresh. You should leave the manure outside for several months to a year before utilizing it as bedding for your worms. Ensure that the animals creating this manure were not just recently wormed, as this wormicide will probably kill your composting worms.

Coconut Coir is made from coconut husks. It is pressed into bricks. Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm offers coconut coir in several sizes. You can likewise locate these in your neighborhood gardening shop. Just add water to the coconut coir brick, mix with your hands, and add it to your worm bin. This material is sustainable; it also provides for excellent air movement and drainage.

Peat Moss is very easy to locate in your gardening supply store. Make sure that peat moss is the only ingredient. Do not utilize it if the product packaging specifies chemicals or added ingredients.

Pre-existing Aged Garden Compost is popular. Those who already have a steady supply of garden compost can use it as bedding for their worms.

When to Use Bedding

You will need bedding when you first start composting with worms. Add moist bedding to the composting bin. Then, put your live composting worms on top of the bedding. The worms will dig their way down.

You may need bedding to dry out a wet worm bin. You might also need it after harvesting the fertilizer from the worm bin. And, you may need fresh bedding when moving some of the worms to another location, such as indoors during the winter.

Providing your worms with top-quality bedding will keep your composting worms happy and give you plenty of fertilizer. New to composting? Check out our composting bins — which can be ordered with live composting worms. Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm is the #1 supplier of composting worms and materials in the United States. Be sure to learn more about our live worms, composting supplies, and blog.


19 thoughts on “Bedding Materials for Worm Composting Bins

  1. Why is printer paper with black ink not ok for the worms? I’ve been giving it to mine for a couple of years and now feel terrible.

    1. Hello Lisa;

      The black ink is okay but try to avoid a lot of colored ink as that can be very toxic.

      Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm

  2. Probably will not be ordering any more worms…. The order we received last time were not in good shape. The worms that did survive… probably 10 out of the order were very dried out and bunched into little pockets in the bag. The packet that was placed in the box was completely dried out. Soooo Sorry I will need to find another outlet!
    Thanks Gerald Spadt, Santee Ca.

    1. Hello Gerald;

      Thank you for your comment. We are sorry if your worms did not arrive alive, we do not want you to be discouraged. Unfortunately, this does happen sometimes with live shipments and we will replace them or refund you for them if they arrive alive. All you need to do is contact us at and let us know. include a photo of the worms condition if you have one and let us know how you wish to proceed.

      Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm

  3. I read and try to learn about food quantity but I think I need someone to hit me over the head and say it clearly… The top of the bin says to not overfeed my worms. But there isn’t a clear amount for the compost or even the purchases food. It’s aggravating! I think I have 100 worms. I saw to put the purchased food in a line but then I was told on the phone to sprinkle. I think I spread the compost over them and spread it out two days ago so it covered the whole tray. Maybe that was wrong because now he worms are climbing out and are under my blanket instead of down in the bedding. Are they hungry? suffocating? Overfed? Help! I did wrongly put an onion in there. And your illustrating on compost has a picture of an onion now that I’m paranoid about how I’m feeding them. Sorry. I want to do this properly.

    1. Hello Rose;

      Thank you for your questions. It is normal to be concerned and a bit uncertain when starting out. The worms just need enough food to last 3-4 days or so and then you feed again when it is almost gone. Overfeeding them can cause mold, too much moisture and anaerobic conditions in the bin and they can be most unpleasant sometimes. It is best to start with a few cups of chopped up scraps and spread it over the top. Cover it with your worm blanket or dampened paper or cardboard. the worms will eat away in the darkness. check them in a few days and see how much they ate…add more when that is almost gone.

      The worm food is to be fed 1/4 to 1/2 cup every 4 days or so…too much may mold if they do not eat it fast enough. if it does, mix it in the bedding or scrape it off the top and throw it away. it will not harm the worms.

      Keep the bin moist, so that you can squeeze 2-3 drops of water out of the bin. Keep the temperature between 55-78 degrees the best you can and do not over feed or add things that will harm them. Here is a link of some things you can feed them and some not to…

      Please let us know if you have other questions.
      Uncle Jim’s

  4. Regarding:
    Review by Gerald:

    “Hello Gerald;

    Thank you for your comment. We are sorry if your worms did not arrive alive, we do not want you to be discouraged. Unfortunately, this does happen sometimes with live shipments and we will replace them or refund you for them if they arrive alive. All you need to do is contact us at and let us know. include a photo of the worms condition if you have one and let us know how you wish to proceed.”

    >My worms also arrived dead, dead, dead upon arrival. I sent you detailed pictures and detailed instructions on how I tried to revive them as per your shipping pamphlet.I sent you several emails, and you never responded.I was never offered any kind of replacement, as you offered Gerald.<

    Please advise.
    David Clark

  5. You mention newspaper, but black ink only. I have a stack of newspapers from 2013 I’ve been keeping for starting fires in my woodstove, and every page I’ve checked has some colored ink on it. I also noticed that some of the shredded newspaper that came with my worm factory has colored ink.
    Is using newspaper only if there’s no colored ink still an up to date recommendation? Where are people getting newspaper with no colored ink?

    1. Hello Keith;

      We recommend that you try to use mostly paper with black ink. Too much colored ink will harm them because the color ink has more chemical compounds in it. Just do your best to add as little colored ink as possible.

      Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm

  6. I ordered your worm farm and it arrived quickly. I thought you didnt send the lid when I first unpacked it but found it under the stack of trays. You sent me another lid quickly at no charge which I appreciate greatly!!/ I set it up and made the bedding as per the instructions a few days before the worms arrived. I quickly put them into the farm tray with some food and they settled right in. I had a few crawl out of the bin but only about 10 to 15 out of the 5000 you sent. I look forward to learning more about farming worms and hope to have a large scale farm some day. Thanks for making it so easy and providing a great platform to comment on and learn from.

  7. Why do some of my worms climb to the top of the container? They seem to have their babies up there too. Are they giving birth while they climb or what? They were fed the day before. This farm is about 2 months old. One pound of worms to start. I use newspaper, coir, cardboard and peat moss.

    1. Hi Greg,

      This is nothing to worry about. The most common reason this occurs is due to condensation build up near the surface or lid, as the worms can be quite attracted to this! This is caused by the temperature outside the bin being warmer, a recent feeding, or a misting of water being added.

      Happy Composting,

      Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm

  8. My worms arrived yesterday. I do not believe I received the 1000 worms as ordered.

    Question: It is hot in Ca. I have installed a shade sail over my Subpod to try and keep the worms cooler. How do I add water if their bedding dries out since the bedding is below the worms? Or can I just moisten the worm bed. I worry because I do not want to lose the worms I did receive.

    1. Hello Victoria;

      Please contact us at and we can address your concerns for you. You can wet the bed with a hose as needed as long as there is good drainage. Do not flood the bed if the drainage is slow or poor. Just wet it enough to provide adequate moisture for the worms. Water also aids in the decomposition of compost.
      Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm

  9. I’m a little confused about using fall leaves only after they’ve been composted. I thought the worms were to do the composting. I put some dry leaves in my bin and they do not seem interested in them. I’ve noticed that if I leave my dry leaves outside for a long time in a barrel and they get rained on, they soften up and are dirt by the next year. At what point in this process do the leaves become good bedding?

    1. Hello Mary;

      Worms cannot eat anything crunchy, hard or dry. They do not have teeth or mouths, like we are used to. They must have soft, slimy, liquified food. That means that the leaves must get slimy and break down before they can eat them. Also, leaves, if you add a large amount, will heat up before they start to decompose, sometimes, depending on the pile of leaves, the temperature can reach over 100 degrees. The worms do not do well in those temperatures. it is best to add the leaves in small amounts and let them go for a bit; the worms will eventually eat them.

      Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm

  10. Worms came in two days — happy and healthy but in a ball. I put them in the worm factory. By evening, @ 50 climbed out of the bin onto the ground in the evening. I lost a few (dried out) but managed to scoop them up and put them back in the tray. I forgot to add food to my bedding but thought they needed to get accustomed to their surroundings. After I scooped up the wayward worms and fed them pureed frozen/defrosted veggie scraps, they didn’t come out anymore (overnight) Hoooray! I left them outside in the patio (@55 degrees night time temp) Southern CA. I don’t think it’s too cold but maybe they were just exploring. Now, they have food so they should be happy for a little while. Don’t want to disturb them since they are not trying to come out.

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