Worm Beddings – The Good and the Bad!
There are MANY different options when it comes to bedding for worms. Some of the most common beddings include; Peat Moss, Coconut Coir, leaves, manure, straw, Paper(Includes newspaper, junk mail, cardboard), etc. Name a product, and I’ve probably tried raising worms in it!
I’m going to share with you my thoughts on the various beddings:
Peat Moss – Depending on the type you buy, Peat Moss is usually VERY acidic. In order to have your worms thrive in peat moss, it needs to be extremely well soaked, wrung out, and soaked again. The best results I’ve seen using Peat Moss is when it is mixed in a cement mixer resulting in a nice, fluffy texture. Although your worms will process the Peat, they get no nutrition from it, and will eventually die from starvation without additional food.
Coconut Coir – Coir also needs to be well rinsed prior to use. It is a decent bedding, but usually relatively costly considering the size of the blocks normally available. The best results I’ve seen using Coir is when it is mixed in a cement mixer resulting in a nice, fluffy texture. Although your worms will process the coir, they get no nutrition from it, and will eventually die from starvation without additional food.
Leaves – When using leaves for worm bedding, use only leaves without a strong fragrance. I’ve heard stories of people adding just a FEW bay leaves into the bedding and killing their worms! If worms cannot get away from strong smelling materials, they will die (Usually after trying their best to climb out of your bin first)! Worms can do well in leaf bedding. Two problems with using leaves as bedding in my opinion:
1. Leaves are not absorbent, and do not hold water well.
2. Leaves tend to get messy when they break down. Almost oily.
Manure – For the purposes of this article, let’s talk about manure from herbivores such as horse/cow manure. Manure from meat eating animals (Humans, dogs, cats) gets into other issues of pathogen problems and cross contamination. Manure is normally easily obtainable, and can make GREAT worm bedding. But, the reality is that most of us live in cities, and do not appreciate a box of worms living in poop in our house or garage. Additionally, most of us would not like putting our hands in manure bedding when we need to check on the worms. CAUTION: Manure that comes from horses or cows that have been given deworming medication will sterilize your worm bin, killing all your worms. The medication will dissipate over time, but be careful. Like a canary in a coal mine, I would only use manure if it had some existing redworms living in it.
Straw – I don’t like using straw at all. It is terrible at holding moisture, it clumps very badly, it takes FOREVER to break down….forgetaboutit!
Paper – Includes newspaper, junk mail, cardboard. Why am I lumping all paper material together? When wet, all paper turns into a pulp eventually. The worms ingest this pulp. Paper is readily available, it is usually FREE, it holds water well, and it’s relatively clean to put your hands in.
Let’s Experiment raising Redworms in paper bedding!
Check back soon!