Tag Archives: red worms

Worm Bedding-Using Shredded Newspaper

 Worm Bedding Too Wet

Sterlite 10 gallon worm bin

Sterlite 10 gal worm bin

This is about worm bedding-using shredded newspaper. Since I posted about a week ago, about my worm bedding being too wet, I have been transferring some worms to a new bin filled with shredded newspaper.  The moisture situation has stabilized and I haven’t had to add any shredded paper since then.  So there were just too many red worms in there for that size of worm bin.  I would expect that eventually there will be too many worms for the bin because there are a lot of worm egg cocoons in there and the worms are mulitplying all the time.  I have already given away worms because I had too many for my bin.  For the new bin I am using a Sterlite 10 gallon opaque plastic bin that I bought at WalMart.  It cost $3.97.  Another good choice for a worm composting bin is a Rubbermaid 14 gallon container which I recently saw at KMart for $9.97.  So it is possible to start vermicomposting without spending too much.

Using Dry Shredded Newspaper

When I learned to set up a worm bin I was taught to use moistened shredded newspaper-just wet enough so that if you squeeze it no water comes out.  Just like a wrung out sponge.  I found a video on Youtube about making a Rubbermaid worm bin composter.  (The video uses music which gets too loud at the end but basically it has good information.) Dry shredded newspaper is used-this is the first time I have heard this.  It makes sense because if you start with dry shredded newspaper then there is less moisture to start with and it will take a longer time until the worm bin is too wet.  It just keeps that extra beginning moisture out of the bin.  So I decided to experiment with this.

Will the worms die?

Worm Bedding Using Shredded Newspaper

Worms covered with moistened newspaper in dry shredded newspaper

That is my big question.  In the Youtube video she puts in 3 lbs of worms, with the peat moss they arrived in, along with lots of food scraps. So those worms have lots of moist space to move around in and don’t have to venture forth into the dry shredded newspaper.  I didn’t have so many worms to begin with because I was slowly transferring them from another bin.  So I put down a double layer of moistened newspaper, about 12 x 10 inches, to put the worms on with some of their previous bedding and food scraps.  I did this so they wouldn’t fall down into the dry newspaper and get dried up–I’m not sure this would happen but I wanted that protection.  After a week I have checked around in all the dry bedding and I don’t see any worms in it dead or alive which is what I expected.  The dry bedding right under the worms is starting to get moist from the food scraps and the worm poop.  And the moistened newspaper under them is starting to break down so I expect they will start venturing forth into the rest of the bin. One thing to watch out for is that the moistened newspaper covering the worms dries out quickly so you have to spray it almost every day. I also tried this in a much smaller bin and all the dry bedding is damp now so it works out great.

Vermicomposting How Worm Composting Suppresses Disease

 Vermicomposting Video–Cornell University

This is an amazing educational video that discusses all aspects of vermicomposting or worm composting with red wigglers.  It is very interesting with excellent video shots about how wonderful red worms are and what they actually accomplish.

The video:  Vermicomposting: a Living Soil Amendment from Cornell University covers:

  1. Biology of Vermicomposting
  2. Mating Cycle of Red Worms
  3. Experiments in greenhouses with seedlings and synthetic growing mixes
  4. Detailed explanations of experiments of how worm compost’s microbial activity suppresses disease in seedlings.
  5. Creation of vermicompost at home and on a large scale.

See Cornell University’s website on worm composting research.

Making a Worm Bin Composter

There are many ways of making a worm bin composter.  Or you can buy one especially for that purpose.  I have tried three approaches and I use red wigglers or red worms. The first approach was years ago.  We built a wooden worm bin but it was not successful.  We put too many food scraps in it and the worms couldn’t handle all of it.  We got a ton of fruit flies and the food rotted so we got rid of it.  We didn’t have any source of advice to save it.  Of course the internet was not available like it is now!

A few years ago, I made a worm bin in a Worm Friendly Habitat.Making a Worm Bin Composter I used shredded newspaper for bedding which works very well.  I like this worm bin because it is easy to go look at and check out the worms and see how they are doing.  About once a week I will go look through the bin and mix up the paper, food scraps and the worms.  This also gives me an opportunity to make sure the worms are doing fine and it aerates their environment.  It is important that there is enough oxygen so that the process stays aerobic.  Once there isn’t enough oxygen it becomes anaerobic and it will start to smell.  If your worm bin smells bad then you know that something is not going right.

After looking online I see that the Worm Friendly Habitat worm bin used to be sold only to municipalities, educational facilities and other bulk buyers.  Now they are available to the public.  I see on one website they have added holes to the bottom for drainage and a tray to catch the leachate (drainage from the worm bin) but they are out of stock.  Some websites are selling the older model.  I have the older model and though the bottom does get a bit wet, it hasn’t been a problem so far.  It is a bit expensive when you add in shipping but it is ready to go with the holes already drilled for air circulation.  I am still experimenting to see if the holes in the bottom of the worm bin are really necessary.  I just wouldn’t want to deal with the worms crawling out of the holes.  More on this in the next post!