Cardboard Roll Rings as Bedding?

Really interesting email from Matt:


I had been using primarily coir and peat moss as bedding and it’s
become obvious that my system is too anaerobic (I still have worms but
definitely not the pound I started with).

I have a bunch of paper towel rolls lying around and it occurred to me
that if you flatten the paper towel roll and then cut slim sections of
it horizontally (so as to create ‘rings’ or ‘donuts’…a picture would
help here!) what you end up with is cardboard that can never really
flatten out since it is a loop/ring shape. After wetting this all down
and realizing it probably would aerate too well, I added in some
shredded egg carton cardboad to fill in some of the gaps but still
allow for plenty of airflow.

So far this seems to have really lightened the bedding and creates
excellent aeration. Have you ever done this or heard of others doing
it and what do you think of it?

Hi Matt,
That is a really cool concept – I appreciate you sharing that with me (and the rest of the RWC reader community). While I’ve certainly used plenty of paper towel and toilet paper rolls for bedding over the years (for some ‘classic RWC’ – literally the second post written on this blog – be sure to check out “That’s How I Roll“), I usually just tear it up like any other bedding material. I’ve never thought to cut it into rings like that (nor have I heard of anyone else doing that).

Adding the additional absorbent bedding was likely a good idea since, as you point out, the rings alone might provide almost “too much” air flow. In a sense, these rings could almost be considered what I refer to as a “secondary bedding” – yet one that likely offers more water-retention than some of the others (such as straw).

Anyway – it would be great if you can keep us posted on your progress with the bedding rings. I plan to test this out myself as well.
Thanks again!

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    • oneman
    • May 13, 2013

    Hi Matt & Bentley.

    I have been using toilet roll inner tubes as my main bedding for 2 years now. There is only 3 in my family and one is 2yrs old, so we do not have much supply. We also use the egg boxes but they are now in short supply, as the tend to be plastic now!!!

    When we run out of loo paper i take the old tube (Christmas rapping paper or any inner tube of the same type and flatten them then cut in half, length ways first. I then cut them into strips that turn out in a v shape and keep in a bucket of rain water out side. I tend to do this on a morning with a cup of coffee and a cigar when i am at stood at the back door, i stand at the step with a pair of scissors ( they soon mount up in a half full bucket of rain water left out side. ( just a tip. When you have flattened your tube and cut it half length ways. make sure that the smallest part of the v ( bottom end or thin end is nearest towards you). Otherwise they tend to fling of in all directions when you cut them.

    I am going to try this with 50/50 tubes and bread only in a spare rubbermaid ( recycle bin for us over here in England) with a bit of grit ( river sand ). I was going to put a post on the bread blog but i found this first.

    Kind regards and good luck.


    • Matt
    • May 13, 2013

    I’ll keep you updated Bentley! Thanks for the extended answer here and via email. I truly find your site to be the best on the net when it comes to vermicomposting and this is a perfect example of why.

    • oneman
    • May 13, 2013

    Hi Matt.

    Can i ask where you live and how your weather is going? We have not had a spring this year in England and it has only gone in to cold summer, in the last 4 weeks. Shocking. very wet over here.

    My worms have only just woke up!!!

    • oneman
    • May 13, 2013

    Hi Matt, again.

    Just read your first bit again “I had been using primarily coir and peat moss as bedding and it’s
    become obvious that my system”

    Matt. Just redd your first bit.

    what ever you do, do not pay for anything!!!

    There is no need. You have to understand this as rule one. anything other is defeating the options.






    • Chris
    • May 13, 2013

    I’ve been cutting all my rolls up like that for the same reason, though it only makes up a small portion of the cardboard I use.
    I figure it depends how it sits whether it flattens or not, since it could flatten in the same way it does when you cut it. I also find it’s simply the easiest way of cutting them up.

    • oneman
    • May 13, 2013

    Hi Chris.

    I cut them up up and mix them all into a gallon bucket with my weeks scraps. I do find my self short of card board ( tubes ).

    Have you see the older bread comments that i left on here. Hand blenders are doing my head in. they literally do not last 2 mind and i am talking about Β£ 60 quid mark ( mid range???)

    I tend to blend all my cardboard and scraps in a gallon bin half full with water covering and then shove it a re-cycle bin with holes to drain and age.

    I still use the slop underneath to wet down the cardboard on top of my out side bin. ( different bin )

    Hope that makes sense.

    Good luck with the weather and kind regards.


    • Kim from Milwaukee
    • May 14, 2013

    Oneman, have you tried using a mud mixer attachment for a power drill instead, to mix your stuff up?? Any hardware store should carry them, they’re like a heavy duty hand blender, I’d say. Not sure of the cost, but it’ll last forever.

    • Tim
    • May 15, 2013

    Great site and great post!

    I have been stuffing the ‘pulp’ from my juicer inside of the TP rolls, then freezing. When it’s time to feed, I just jam a “Worm Torpedo” into a corner and walk away. No muss, no fuss.

    Be well all!

    • John W
    • May 16, 2013
    • Kim from Milwaukee
    • May 16, 2013

    Look at that! I knew I saw it somewhere!

    • John W
    • May 16, 2013

    I don’t think he ever had good results with it. The bucket wants to spin more then the food inside. πŸ™‚

    • Kim from Milwaukee
    • May 16, 2013

    Ya, the bucket would need to be braced with feet or something…

    • Bobbie
    • May 17, 2013

    Another thing to use would be the drink carriers from McDonald’s. They compost like the egg cartons and really are not useful after the first use unlike egg cartons if you have chickens!

  1. I don’t do this. But a donor of scraps always folds some up and stuffs them in a roll. The inner folded ones keeps the tube from collapsing, so it works about the same as corrugated cardboard. But i have big bins. All the neighbors empty rolls are just a drop in a big bucket….err? wormbin! Lol!

    • oneman
    • May 22, 2013

    Hope i am wrong.

    But do you all think that Mc Donalds. sell food????????????

    “Author: Bobbie
    Another thing to use would be the drink carriers from McDonald’s. They compost like the egg cartons and really are not useful after the first use unlike egg cartons if you have chickens!”

    What is going on if you think Mc donalds will save tour world.

    Step back and look at the big picture.

    Have all become sheeple????
    and just follow!!!

    • Kelejan
    • May 29, 2013

    My friend who breeds creepy-crawlies for her bird rescue facility will only use human food grade egg cartons for her ccs as she found that using other similar looking grey cardboard killed all her stock. It cost her $8000 to buy all her creepy-crawly bird food that year until she could get her system up and running again.
    Sorry for calling them creepy-crawlies; can’t think of the proper name right now.

    • Lynn
    • May 29, 2013

    Kelejan, could it be meal worms? That’s an expensive lesson for your friend! I wonder what it was about the other stuff that did it.

    I have aquariums and I’m checking into meal worms myself, to supplement food for the water pets.

    I’m undecided at this point if I want to try Euros to have bigger worms so my husband can have some fish bait now and then, or mealies for fish food. A triple purpose bin is interesting. I’m watching Bentley’s latest to see what happens with the Euros in the WF360. πŸ™‚

    • Kelejan
    • May 31, 2013

    Lyn: Yes, meal worms. I think the grey stuff that my friend was given was something like the packaging that surrounds appliances.
    This time of year she has has a job to keep up with the appetites of her tiny birds that grow so enormously over a few days. Last year she had several nests of 10 to 14 little birds that needed feeding continuously.
    To my surprise, she said no to my offer of worms. She has been doing bird rescue and rehab for the last 30 to 35 years so I guess she knows best.

    • David L
    • July 24, 2013

    Oh dear oh dear Bently !
    I have been preparing bedding for my ‘ yet to arrive’ composting worms. But have just read your remark regarding the use of bagged garden compost material. I have mixed a small amount with Elephant and Buffalow dung. It is a couple of months old now. Do you think this will kill my worms when i get them. I am not in a hurry as i want the dung to be well rotted.

    • Bentley
    • July 28, 2013

    Kelejan – I thought I had replied to your comment, but I guess not! Thanks for sharing that info. This highlights the importance of testing on a small scale as much as possible when using any new material. Yikes!
    David L – Not all bagged soils are created equal, but if it IS one that comes with starter fertilizer for the plants you will definitely want to (bare minimum) rinse it well with water. I would think the manure might be ok if was allowed to sit outside for a couple of months. You might think about also mixing in some inert materials like shredded cardboard or shredded newsprint – just to help ensure that the initial habitat is safe for the worms.

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