Worm composting is a great way to recycle organic waste and create rich fertilizer for your plants. But, what type of bedding should you use for worms? You can choose several options, so it's important to know what they are before deciding.
In this blog post, we will discuss what worm bedding is and the different types available. We'll also go over some reasons why one type may be better than another!
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Types of bedding available for worm composting:
- Newspaper - this is the cheapest and easiest option for worm bedding. It's also a good idea to use shredded paper so that it doesn't clog your worms' intestinal tracts as they eat their way through it!
- Cardboard, Paper Towels, or Tissue - these are all easy on the wallet but have an increased risk of absorbing liquid and becoming soggy. Once they become saturated, you'll need to replace them with new materials!
Peat Moss is a good option for people who don't want their worm bedding to break down too quickly. However, it can be heavy when wet, which makes emptying the bin more difficult.
- Straw - this is a good option for people who want to use a straw with oats in it. The oat straw will break down quickly and offer excellent conditions for worms!
- Vermiculite or Perlite - these materials are lightweight, so they won't make the bin too heavy when wet. However, being light can also mean that they won't hold liquid well.
- Compost - Compost is the worm bedding material that will break down quickly and offer excellent conditions for worms!
Pros and cons for each type of bedding:
Newspaper: There are some pros and cons to using newspapers as bedding. Pros are that it is free to use and easy to get. Cons include the fact that newspapers can be slippery for worms, break down too quickly, and contain inks or dyes, which may not be good.
Straw: Straw has some pros and cons, such as being heavy when wet but breaking down fast. The other pro is the fact that straw is cheap!
Perlite and Lite: These materials are both lightweight, which means they won't add too much weight to the bin when wet. They also have excellent absorption qualities, making them great for holding liquid (and therefore good worm bedding).
Cardboard, paper towels, or tissues also have pros and cons. Cardboard is cheap and easy to get but can break down too quickly. Paper towels may also be expensive or difficult to find in bulk amounts, while tissues are lightweight like perlite/lites.
Peat Moss: There are pros and cons to using peat moss as bedding. It's cumbersome when wet and can be expensive. It also breaks down quickly, which is a pro as it will compost faster but may need to be turned more often than if you used other bedding types like straw or cardboard.
Vermiculite or Perlite has pros and cons to using as well. These include being lightweight, but also they can break down too quickly.
Which type of bedding is best for your needs:
The best type of bedding for your needs depends on a few variables. These include what type of worms you are using, what types of bedding they prefer to live in, and how often the worm compost needs to be turned?
The best bedding for your needs may also depend on what is locally available.
If you want a quick breakdown: Rice hulls or perlite/lites would work well if you use red wigglers, which prefer to be kept moist. However, if you want something that will compost faster and may need less turning, then Vermiculite would work well for a worm bin with tiger worms or any other type of worm such as species from the Red Wigglers family
How to create a successful worm bin with the right type of bedding?
Step One: Select the type of worm that you have chosen to use.
If you use Red Wigglers, then Rice hulls, Perlite, or Lites will work well for your bedding needs. However, if your worms come from another family like Tiger Worms, then Vermiculite would be best as it is a more natural source of plant matter.
Step Two: Collect enough bedding for your worm bin and prepare it properly before adding the worms to avoid stressing them or preventing their ability to find food, water, air, and mates for mating reproduction purposes.
If you are using Rice Hulls, heat some boiling water with a kettle on the stovetop. The boiling water will warm the bedding up and make it softer.
If you use Perlite, add a little bit of baking powder to the mix (a tablespoon should be enough). This is beneficial because worms like an acidic environment, so adding some bicarbonate soda can provide that for them.
If you are using Vermiculite, then it is best to have a heat source nearby to keep the bedding warm.
Step Three: Add in your worms and give them time to adjust before feeding them fresh greens, vegetables, or fruit wastes.
The type of worm bin will impact what type of food waste they should be fed and what type of bedding is best.
Worms can eat many types of food waste, including fruit and vegetable scraps high in carbohydrates, such as banana peels or apple cores. They will also consume dead leaves from the yard or leftover pizza crusts for a more protein-rich diet.
The worms need to eat what you are feeding them, but they also need a suitable habitat.
Vermiculite is a type of worm bedding that requires heat, so ensure it is near an area where the temperatures will stay above 65 degrees Fahrenheit; Vermiculite does not provide enough protection from cold temps to be used alone for composting.
Depending on what type of worm bedding you have chosen, your worms will need different areas to live in. For example, if you have selected Vermiculite as your worm bedding of choice, the worms will need a warm place near their food supply so they can eat what has been composted.
Worms need water and air just like any other living organism on earth does. However, they also require an environment that is comfortable for them to live in.
Some worm bedding types can be used without heat, and some may not need an area near their food supply so they can eat what has been composted. Consider the location of your habitat before deciding on which type of worm bedding you want to use. The best material is something that will work well with what you have chosen as your worm composting container.