We can all agree that bedding is one of the most important upkeep elements in a worm farm. Adding at least some bedding on a regular basis is essential to keep your red worms happy and productive. Failure to do so can result in all kinds of problems, even death to your worms!
It can’t be emphasized enough, then, how important it is to provide adequate bedding to your worms. But what kind of bedding can be used in worm farms? Well, we here at Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm know of many bedding materials that work really well!
You need to choose wisely, so let’s dive into some common types of bedding and explain how you can make the best worm bin bedding.
What Is Worm Bedding and Why Do You Need It?
Worm bedding, a.k.a. worm bin bedding or vermicomposting bedding, is used to create a comfortable and healthy environment for worms. It provides worms with optimal conditions to live, eat, and reproduce.
But what’s the point of worm bin bedding? Well, the purpose is to provide your worms with a source of food and a comfortable living environment. The worms feed on the bedding and break it down into nutrient-rich castings, which you can later use as a soil amendment or fertilizer. The bedding also provides a space for the worms to move around and burrow, which is crucial for their overall health. So, it’s definitely a significant part of worm composting.
The Must-Have Worm Bedding Characteristics
From the moment you set up your worm farm, the most important thing to do is make sure you use the right kind of bedding material. The best worm bedding materials must have these characteristics:
- pH neutral
- chemical-free and non-toxic
- allows oxygen flow
- retains moisture
- free from abrasive things that can harm the worms’ sensitive skin
So, the ideal worm bedding should be moist, well-aerated, and have a neutral pH level. Also, it should be able to retain moisture without becoming too wet or compacted.
Good bedding can also be eaten by the worms. In fact, up to 50% of a worm’s diet may consist of its bedding. One material that works extremely well for both bedding and worm food is brown cardboard because red worms love eating brown cardboard. You should shred it into small pieces to allow for better airflow so the worms can eat it more easily.
10 Common Bedding Materials Your Worms Will Love
The key to maintaining a healthy worm bin isn’t choosing just one “best” bedding material. It’s using a variety of materials and adding them to your worm bin often. Most vermicomposters could do a little better at adding new bedding to their worm bins more frequently.
Here are some options that make for the best bedding for worms:
- Shredded brown cardboard
- Shredded paper (not bleached white office paper)
- Shredded newspaper (not colored)
- Aged compost
- Aged horse manure or aged cow manure
- Coco coir
- Peat moss
- Straw and hay
- Fall leaves and other yard waste
- Wood chips
The key is using a combination of bedding materials to allow your system to operate most efficiently and be well-balanced. This is because some materials are inherently better than others, and adding several types into your worm bin will make up for certain weaknesses in some of the materials you may have on hand.
When creating a bedding mix, try to balance carbon-rich materials (paper, cardboard, or dry leaves) and nitrogen sources (such as food scraps or grass clippings). A good ratio is roughly three parts carbon to one part nitrogen.
When the bedding has reached desirable conditions, the worms will thrive, and production will soar. Be attentive to this, and your composting worms will be happy.
How to Prepare the Bedding
Once you have the right choice of bedding, it’s time to prepare your red worm bedding. How do you do that? It’s simple – here’s what to do.
- If you’re using paper or cardboard, shred it into small pieces.
- Dampen the materials before adding them to the worm bin. They shouldn’t be sopping wet, just damp.
- Squeeze out any excess water.
- Add the bedding to your worm bin.
Don’t forget to fluff up the bedding, every now and that. That will keep it from compacting and stinking. This also creates air pockets where worms can move around in. Also, remember to feed the worms in different parts of the bin.
Maintaining the Ideal Bedding
Of course, you can’t just mix all the materials, add them to the worm bin and forget about it. You need to keep a close watch and maintain the bedding properly in order to keep your worms alive and healthy.
As your worms begin to eat the bedding, it will start to break down and become compacted. To maintain the bedding, you’ll have to add fresh bedding from time to time to keep the environment healthy.
Remember to regularly monitor the moisture level and adjust as necessary. But be careful – if the bedding becomes too wet, it can become anaerobic and produce unpleasant odors. On the other hand, if it is too dry, the worms may not have enough moisture to survive. So, what you need to do is add water or dry bedding material as needed to maintain the proper moisture level.
Make Worm Bedding Today and Help Your Worms Thrive
How can you make sure your worms are happy and productive? By giving them the right kind of bedding on a frequent basis! And as you can tell, finding the best worm bedding and adding it to your worm bin isn’t a hard task.
You just need to choose wisely and use the right materials that serve as excellent bedding and a food source for worms. From there, it’s all about keeping a close look at the bin and making sure the worms are happy and healthy in their living environment. Good luck, and happy vermicomposting!
CC image courtesy of Tofutti Break at Flickr