Worm farm bedding can be made out of dry fall leaves, coconut coir, newspaper shredded cardboard or compost. Worm farm bedding should be damp, cool and can be mixed together with a range of bedding ingredients to provide food. Allow worms to settle into the bedding for 2 weeks before adding food.
Find out all you need to know about worm bedding including how to prepare it, when to add it to your worm farm, the best bedding types and how to use them. You will need to prepare different worm beddings in different ways. Here are the steps to preparing each type of worm farm bedding before mixing them together and placing in your worm farm.
How to prepare worm bedding
- Shred newspaper and spray it with water to hydrate it. This is good bedding to add to a brand new worm farm or mixed it with worm compost and food scraps.
- Prepare coconut coir as worm bedding by hydrating it in a bucket first. This can be added as the bottom layer of your worm farm and makes a cozy home for your new worms to settle into.
- Dry fall leaves are best mixed in with another worm bedding like coconut coir or potting mix as they can become too dry on their own. Add leaves as a bottom layer of worm farm or scatter on top to cover food scraps and deter ants.
Simple steps to adding worm farm bedding
- Moisten shredded newspaper or cardboard.
- Prepare coconut coir in a bucket by rehydrating it in water
- Mix together shredded newspaper, cardboard, coconut coir.
- Add old potting soil or compost to the mix.
- Layer at least 5 inches of worm bedding in the bottom of your worm farm.
- Moisten the bedding if it looks too dry.
- Add the worms to the top of the bedding including the material they came in.
- Cover your worms with a worm blanket and a worm farm lid.
- Feed your worms after 1-2 weeks when they have settled in.
- Add water to the worm farm bedding if the weather is hot or it looks dry.
Best worm farm bedding
Here is a list of my favorite types of worm farm bedding
- Organic coconut coir
- Old compost
- Old potting soil
- Sugar cane mulch
- Shredded newspaper
- Fall leaves
- Leaf mold
Mixing different worm bedding materials
Mixing different types of worm bedding provides the best environment for good bacteria to break down food scraps and for your worms. The worms feed on the bacteria and the food scraps so a mix of bedding will provide a different range of nutrients for them to feed on.
When to add bedding to a worm farm
Add bedding to your worm farm when you first set it up, when you add another layer to a worm tower or if the worm farm is getting too wet. Bedding materials such as straw, sugar cane mulch or dry leaves will help to absorb water if your worm farm is too wet. Coconut coir makes a great bedding to add to a new worm farm or layer of your worm tower.
How often to add bedding to a worm farm
Most worm farms will only need a large amount of extra bedding when you first set it up or add a new layer to your worm tower. You can add small amounts of bedding more often such as a handful of sugar cane mulch on top of food scraps.
The best times to add bedding to a worm farm
The best times to add bedding to a worm farm is at the time of set up, when you are adding a new layer to your worm tower, when you are harvesting worm castings and if the worm farm is getting too wet or too dry.
When harvesting worm castings
It is important to keep adding more worm bedding to your worm farm anytime you remove worm castings. This will make sure your worms have plenty of space to live and breed and lots of organic matter and bacteria to eat.
When adding another layer to a worm tower
When you are adding another layer to a worm tower, you will need to add extra bedding. Add the extra section to the top of your worm tower and add a layer of worm bedding. This will encourage worms to move up to the next layer. Add food scraps to the top and cover with a worm blanket.
When the worm farm is too wet or too dry
If your worm farm is too wet then adding extra dry bedding such as hay, straw, shredded paper or sugar cane mulch can help to absorb the water. If your worm farm is too dry, add hydrated coconut coir and make sure you have the worm blanket on. Check the worm farm is in a cool area of your garden to stop it drying out.
Check out this video on topping up your worm farm with new bedding.
Why worm bedding is important
Worms will need a moist, dark environment to live when you set up your worm farm. Adding bedding is an important step to give the worms a safe place to live. Worms will also eat the organic matter that makes up the worm bedding. It is important to use a natural option such as coconut coir, organic potting soil or compost so it is safe for the worms to eat.
Worm bedding provides moisture and protection for the worms. It also provides a place for them to lay their eggs and breed. A sign of a healthy worm farm is a variety of sized worms which means that they are breeding.
Bedding in a worm farm provides the best environment for bacteria and fungi to grow which provide food for the worms. These good bacteria need bedding that keeps moisture and air in so they can break down food scraps and the bedding. This provides food for the worms.
Best types of bedding to use in a worm farm
The best worm beddings to use when you set up your worm farm are carbon rich options such as coconut coir, potting mix or compost. You can mix these together with shredded paper, cardboard or fall leaves. You can also layer these 1-2 inches thick on the bottom of the worm farm to allow for extra drainage.
A coconut coir brick is a great way to line your worm farm. It is low cost and easy to transport as it is compact and will expand when you add water. Using old potting soil is another great worm bedding and a good way to use up excess you have at home.
Other great worm bedding material includes sugar cane mulch, pea straw mulch or hay. These can be mixed in with compost or coconut coir or added to the top of the worm farm. They work well to absorb any excess water.
How much worm bedding to use
When you set up your worm farm it is important that they have at least 4-5 inches of bedding to dig into while they are settling into their new home. A small worm farm with 500 worms will need 1 small block of coconut coir as bedding as a starting point.
Over time as you add more food scraps the bedding layer will increase quickly. Scatter dry bedding material such as hay or mulch on top of food scraps to deter ants and absorb any excess moisture. This works well for watermelon and strawberries which contain a lot of water.
Worm bedding that should not be used
Don’t use any paper or magazines that have a plastic coating or lots of color added. These will take longer to break down and can harm your worms. Do not add anything to your worm farm that has been treated with insecticides or pesticides as this can also be harmful.
Do not add too much cardboard or paper as it will dry out quickly. Worms prefer a mix where moisture will stay for longer which is important in warm weather.
Worm bedding summary
Choosing the right worm bedding can be the most important factor in a successful worm farm. Make sure that you start your worm farm off in the right way by giving them a moist, dark environment to live in, lay their eggs and breed. Worm bedding will keep worms happy and productive composters in your backyard.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.