People decide to vermicompost for many different reasons, what is the goal of one, may not be the goal of another. Some folks use a worm bin with the main purpose of eliminating food waste from the local landfill while others feel a need to grow worms to share. No matter what drives your desire to vermicompost the end result is always the same; the creation of vermicast or worm castings.
Here’s where purpose meets goals, if your goal is quality castings we can help. The conditions in a vermicomposting system, moisture, pH and temperature are dictated by the materials within that system. Both food and bedding choices play a part in the resulting vermicast. Just as in an outdoor compost bin the careful balance of carbon and nitrogen or “green” and “brown” material creates a desirable end product. It’s the same principal in a vermicomposting system. Many people disregard the importance of the type and quantity of bedding material in their worm bin.
Bedding represents the carbon or “brown” component of your worm bin, it is instrumental in controlling moisture levels and in creating quality castings. It is also a key player in the mating and reproduction of red worms. Worms will rise to enter the bedding layer in order to find a potential partner. You may notice when your bin is functioning well a number of teamed up worms have crawled up the walls when you open it. This is a good sign. If on the other hand you find a mass exodus, particularly when accompanied by a foul smell, you are in trouble. Bedding can be any type of dried carbon based material from newspapers to straw or dry leaves. Here’s a hint, t’s always a good idea to collect a bag or two of dried leaves in the fall for use over the winter months. The best example of the carbon vrs nitrogen content and how it changes is grass clippings, when new and fresh they are green and contain mostly nitrogen as they dry and become brown the nitrogen is removed and replaced with carbon.
In order to create dark, rich and “fluffy” castings you must incorporate a high enough carbon content. If you have light coloured wet and “mushy” castings, you need to add more bedding to your mix.