Typically, worm bedding, as the first "layer" of the bin, is a carbon-based material that will break down more slowly than the feed. It acts as a place for the worms to escape to if the upper layers of the bed becomes too acid or is otherwise uninhabitable.
The bedding layer is usually a coarse material that has little protein or mineral content (unlike feedstock), won’t pack tightly and therefore maintains air pockets within the growth chamber.
The worm bedding material also helps to absorb excess moisture from feedstock.
Any bedding material used MUST be moistened to the feel of a damp sponge. If it's not, then any watery feedstock on top of it (most fruit and vegetables) will be releasing moisture as they decompose and can overwhelm the bedding's ability to absorb the excess.
When that happens, worms die.
Worm Bedding Requirement
A 2'x2' bin will need approximately 4-6 lbs of initial bedding;
a 2'x3' bin will require 9-14 lbs.
The aim is to lay down from 4-6" of bedding depending on the size of the bin. Too little and there won't be enough material to absorb excess moisture; too much and it will take up space for more nutrient-rich feedstock.
Good Choices for Bedding Material
And while we're talking horse manure, finding a one-horse stable could more than fill your requirement, at least for those who have a large worm bin. A horse produces 50 pounds of manure every day. That's 8 tons per year.
While some might think that straw would be suitable as bedding. It's not. Even though it's dry, it does not have the ability to absorb water. It takes forever to decompose and would have to stay in the bin longer after the rest of the feedstock is gone. Put it in your poultry nesting boxes, just not in the worm bin.
Dangerous Bedding Materials
The first 3 items are extremely high in nitrogen, mineral and moisture content and should be classed more as feed stock if properly pre-composted.
Aromatic leaves should not be used at all as these materials decompose slowly and contain oils, tannic acids and resinous saps harmful to earthworms or may drive them from their beds.
Serving No. Calif counties of El Dorado, Nevada, Placer and Sacramento.
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