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Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:32 am
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Worm bin bedding

I do worm composting. It works the best for me since I have more green waste than anything else. I start my worm bin with newspaper, but it is feast or famine for the worms when it comes to greens. They either get a lot and the bin smells like ammonia or they don't get enough and they eat up all of the paper. I actually end up adding more paper every three weeks or so. While the worms don't multiply as fast because I am not a giving them ideal food and I still haven't figured out how wet they should be.

My dilemma is this:

How much water should I give the worms? Should I like flush the bins once a week. I was told I was keeping the bins toxic by not flushing the bins enough. I don't get much leachate so while the inside of the bin feels wet to me, it may still need flushing.

I give the worms so much newspaper that when I harvest the compost it is gray and sticky rather than dark and fluffy. Should I have to keep adding newspapers or should there be enough just with the initial bedding? Should I just feed the worms more greens? I feed my worms probably once a week, is that enough?

To counter this, I added some peat moss to the bin as an alternate carbon source. It did help a bit on the texture, but it can still be sticky because I am still adding newspaper every couple of weeks. It used to be three weeks, but the newspaper seems to be disappearing a lot faster.

I also get roaches in the bin that I have to keep evicting and the geckos get in there and eat the worms and It is harder to keep them completly out of the bin. I have a screen on the bin to keep out most of the flies and I don't give them a lot of fruit anyway since it would just attract fruit flies.

I usually give the worms banana peels, kitchen scraps, kale, swiss chard, lettuce (over the hill) from the garden. I also give them the edible weeds like bitter melon. I do have a lot of weeds I could give them, but do worms eat weeds? With the exception of the banana, they don't get much fruit. Most of my fruit are citrus so I keep that mostly out of the bins because of fruit flies, I don't give them tomatoes which they would love and I have an abundance of over ripe tomatoes at the moment. Is not giving them much fruit and only greens part of the problem? When I give them banana peels, it disappears really fast. Although, I think the roaches are also eating up a lot of the worm food too.

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Posts: 29333
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: Worm bin bedding

It's strange to me to hear you say you put peat moss in the worm bin when you are in Hawaii.
My worm bin initially came with a coco coir brick to soak and use as bedding. Isn't coco coir something you could get pretty easily? I dunno, is that a stereotype to think Hawaii=coconuts? Hope I didn't offend.

I get a lot of things from amazon and they use newsprint/Kraft paper for packing material, so I tend to add those. I also put paper towel core in there as well as coffee filters and brown paper bags, food soiled paper towels and napkins.

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Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25279
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Re: Worm bin bedding

Ugh... sorry, but it sounds a bit nasty. I would be tempted to start over, clean everything out, and start over with sterilized ingredients and lots of screens to keep all the foreign denizens out.

I use fall leaves for the "brown" in my worm bin. I do have to replenish them sometimes. I only do that more like once a month. But since I never bought worms, just dug some out of my compost pile, I probably have fewer worms in my bin than most people do. With a fuller house, it would probably be more like every other week.

The whole flushing thing is controversial. I just recently had some one here tell me a worm bin should produce no leachate; if it does, it is too wet. (I went looking for the thread and could not find it. The Google search does not work as well as our old one used to.) That is different from what everyone else says. If I am not getting leachate, I add more water, but I have never flushed it. I have found when I went to harvest castings, that the stuff at the bottom was maybe more wet than it should have been, despite drainage holes.

Senior Member
Posts: 263
Joined: Thu Dec 15, 2011 7:04 am
Location: Greenfield Township, PA

Re: Worm bin bedding

My grandfather kept a box of fishing worms in the basement in a wooden box of dirt. He just sprinkled some oatmeal on top. When it disappeared, he gave them some more. The worms were night walkers from his yard.

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