Friday, February 4, 2011

Peat Moss and Worm Bedding

One of the most frequent misunderstandings about worm farming and vermicomposting concerns the use of peat moss as worm bedding   Today, the issue has come up twice from two of my customers.  So here I'm sharing how I mix up my peat moss worm bedding recipe.

What Kind of Peat Moss Is Best?

When using peat moss in your worm beds, DO NOT use peat moss that contains additives such as fertilizer.  Miracle Grow peat moss has fertilizer added to it and cannot be used for worm bedding.  The fertilizer will kill your worms. 

Look for Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss for your worm bedding.  It is naturally organic and has not had anything added to it that will harm your worms. Dry peat moss, however, has an acid pH, which is not a good thing.  To lower the pH towards neutral, dampen the peat moss and let it sit for at least 24-36 hours before adding your worms.

Can You Just Use Peat Moss As The Only Worm Bedding Ingredient?

Yes, you can use just peat moss.  BUT, you must change out the peat moss every 14 days to prevent protein poisoning from occurring in your worms and killing them.  That's the reason peat moss by itself is usually used for short term holding and shipping.

If you are trying to grow and breed worms,  it isn't practical to change the bedding this often.  For long term holding, breeding and growing worms, mix something else with the peat moss.  Use a ratio of 50:50 - that is 50% or less peat moss and 50% or more of any of the following:
  • shredded and dampened newspaper or other paper
  • shredded and dampened cardboard
  • aged horse manure (with or without stall bedding)
  • aged and dampened saw dust
Dampen all worm bedding ingredients and let it sit for at least 36 hours.  Check the worm bedding mixture often to see the moisture content, pH level, and temperature. If items such as horse manure or wood chips aren't properly aged, they may "heat-up" and kill your worms. Make sure the ingredients are well past the "heating-up" stage before introducing your precious worms to it.

Worm Bedding Tip:

Always add a few worms to a small amount of the new mix to see how the worms fare.  This way, you won't kill off all your worms should the worm bedding contain something harmful that you aren't aware of.

And always change out your worm bedding when it becomes too concentrated with worm castings.  When and how often is determined how many worms you have and how much worm bedding.  The more worms in the bedding, the more often you need to change it.

If you have any questions about worm bedding, please post them in the comments. 

More Worm Bedding Recipes:

For more worm bedding recipes and worm bedding maintenance tip's and how-to's, check out my "Worm Farm Manual: A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Earthworms" .

In this comprehensive guide, I share my knowledge of worm bedding, worm feeding, worm harvesting, and worm business in an easy to follow guide. What you don't know can kill your worms and cost you time and money.

Available in a download and hardcopy version.

Serious about raising worms for fishing, vermicomposting or reselling? Check out my "Worm Farm Manual" for more worm problems and their solutions.  

*Update:  This manual is currently on sale for 30% off on both the digital and hardcopy versions.  Hurry, sale ends 10.17.23!