Do Worm Bins Need to be Mixed?

A couple of great questions from Michael:

Thanks for this great site. It has been a big help so far. I just
started a worm bin using the worm factory 360 and 1000 healthy, active
red wigglers. I have 2 questions:
1. should I stir the mix when I add to the bin or will that adversly
disturb the worms?
2. Do I need to add Carbons (Bedding) to the bin when I add food
scraps or just add a lot when I start a new bin?

Hi Michael!

1) Mixing up a vermicomposting system some can be beneficial – but I would say there is definitely such a thing as “too much” mixing. With a typical home bin system, periodically loosening up the worm habitat zone with a small garden hand rake (one of my favorite vermicomposting tools) can be a great way to combat the compaction that naturally takes place over time. It promotes increased air flow, which is not only good for the worms but it also improves the effectiveness/speed of the vermicomposting process in general.

Notice I used the word “loosening”, not “mixing”. There is definitely no need to completely mix up your worm bin contents. The worms themselves – along with various other critters do a lot of mixing on their own. Also, I should point out that Red Worms are going to be a LOT more tolerant of these sorts of disturbances than European Nightcrawlers. Even gentle forking of a Euro bin may result in worms coming up and attempting to escape. The good news is that the Euros probably don’t really need any loosening anyway – they tend to thrive in deeper systems with more moisture and less air flow.

2) You will want to have LOADS of bedding material when you first start your bin. As such, you will probably be fine with not adding any new stuff for a while. That being said, a really easy approach is simply to keep the bin completely topped up with an upper layer of absorbent, fluffy bedding (eg shredded newsprint, shredded cardboard etc) at all times. This way you don’t even need to think about adding it when feeding – you simply mix the food with what’s already there, and continue to top up as the overall level of cover material drops.

When you are getting closer to harvesting time, you may want to remove excess unprocessed bedding, and not add ANY more. The worms should do a pretty good job of finishing everything off, and leaving you with plenty of nice vermicompost.

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Comments

    • Greg Boshell
    • July 15, 2014

    IS LEAVES good for a worm bin? What kind do you recomend?
    Thanks
    Greg

    • John W.
    • July 18, 2014

    I mixed my worm factory 360 about once a month. I’m not sure if it helped at all, but it did allow me to check on the contents of the bin. I tend to be hands on a little to much. Thats what I like about my Worm Inn; I can did around the top to see whats going on, but its to deep to stir the bottom.

    • Michael
    • July 22, 2014

    Thanks for your response!

    So #1, loosen occasionally, don’t stir. That helps a lot. And #2, either add the Carbons with the food scraps, or have enough Carbons in the bin that it amounts to the same thing. Is that right?

    Finally, sorry for my crazy detail compulsion but…should I spread the food scraps in a thin layer over the entire tray or dump it in one section at a time?

    Thanks for your help. This site is an incredible resource!!!

    • Bentley
    • July 22, 2014

    Yep, that’s correct!

    How you feed is up to you. I think it can be “easier” to concentrate the food in particular spots – that way you can monitor more easily how the worms are doing with it. Just don’t put too much in any one spot since there will be more likelihood of it becoming foul.

    • Michael
    • July 22, 2014

    THANKS!

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