Composting: Worm Bin Bedding

 

When starting a worm bin, you’ll begin by adding a layer of moist bedding to the bin.  This articles details how to make a batch of starter bedding.

 

Good Materials for Worm Bedding

  • shredded newspaper (soak in water and wring out the excess)
  • shredded paper towel rolls (soak in water and wring out the excess)
  • shredded toilet paper rolls (soak in water and wring out the excess)
  • corrugated cardboard (soak in water and wring out the excess)
  • dried leaves
  • coconut coir – sold online for worm factories (coir) or in pet stores as reptile bedding (Eco-Earth) or in garden stores for planting.  It comes in compressed bricks that you soak in hot water per the directions on the package.  The compressed coir brick absorbs the water and expands to 5 – 7 times in volume.  Wring out the excess water.  You can save any excess to mix in with your planting soil – it’s a good soil amendment.
  • peat moss
  • aged horse manure
  • rabbit manure

 

Materials to Avoid

  • Newspaper or cardboard with glue, plastic, or colored inks
  • Yard clippings with weeds or seeds that might germinate in the bin
  • Fresh horse manure
  • Anything treated with toxic chemicals

 

EcoBuzz’s Worm Bedding Recipe

I’ve had great success using a moist mixture of shredded newspaper, cardboard, shredded paper towel and toilet paper rolls, coir, dried leaves, rabbit manure and a bit of organic planting mix/compost to get things going.  Any mixture of the above suggestions will work.  You could even use just coconut coir and shredded newspaper to start.  It can be as simple or complicated as you’d like.  Here’s how I made the starter bedding for our worm bin:

1.  Soak a brick of coconut coir in a bucket until it expands, wring out the excess.

Coconut Coir

Coconut Coir (aka Coconut Fiber) brick


 
Coconut Coir

Add warm water to the bucket and the coconut coir brick will absorb the water and expand to 8x its size


 
Coconut Coir

Coconut coir brick has almost finished expanding


 
2. Use a paper shredder (or tear by hand) to shred newspaper, cardboard, and paper towel/toilet paper rolls.

Shredded paper for compost

Shredded newspaper, toilet paper rolls, and cardboard


 
3. Gather together some old organic material from your yard like dried/crushed leaves, organic planting mix, rabbit manure, and straw.

Organic material for compost

Organic planting mix, dried leaves, rabbit manure, and straw


 
4.  Mix the soaked coconut coir, shredded newspaper, shredded cardboard, shredded paper towel & toilet paper  rolls, and organic yard material (dried leaves, planting mix, rabbit manure, and straw) in a large bucket.

Worm Bin Bedding

Worm bin bedding ready for use


 
Voilà!  Worm bedding is ready to go!

 

Next Step:  Worms!

Previous Step:  Selecting a worm bin

Looking for an introduction?  Read the worm composting primer:  Vermicomposting Primer

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