I must say, I’m really enjoying this new ‘Reader Questions’ category on the blog! I’ve been getting some great questions, and I’ll be honest, it is typically much easier to sit down and write a quick response post than it is to write something completely new. Unfortunately I don’t have nearly as much time for RWC as I would like these days, so being able to add these types of posts to the mix definitely helps.
Anyway, today’s question comes from Ken. He is wondering what sort of mixing, if any, one should do with the contents of a worm bin. Here is what he wrote:
First off I just wanted to say that your site has helped me
tons. It is very informative and interesting. I like how you post all
of your goings on. (experiments and interviews as well) I was just
wandering if an occasional mixing of the worm bin contents would be
harmful to the worm habitat. I read on another site (which name
escapes me at the moment) that you should stir the contents of the
bin to circulate air through it. I thought the worms had this under
And also, would’nt mixing it just be like regular composting where
you must turn it over and over to breakdown the material?
Hopfully you can help me with this.
Thanks and keep up the good work.
Thanks Ken! Glad to hear that the site has been helpful.
Generally speaking (in my humble opinion), the contents of a worm bin shouldn’t need to be mixed/turned. As you mention yourself, the worms do a great job mixing everything up on their own. Assuming you have a decent amount of air circulation in the bin (air holes and perhaps even drainage), you really shouldn’t need to do much of anything other than adding food and bedding, and maybe even water if your bin has a LOT of air flow.
That being said, it certainly won’t hurt if you occasionally poke about a little. A garden hand fork of some sort will be ideal for the job since there is far less chance of you harming the worms. Simply push it in a lift up the materials a little – definitely no need to completely flip them over. Loosening up the contents of the bin in this manner won’t cause much (if any) stress for the worms, and it will be a good way to get some more oxygen into the more tightly packed (i.e. potentially anaerobic) zones in the bin.
Adding bulking agents to your bin on a regular basis is also very important for air circulation. I generally like to add a good handful of shredded cardboard anytime I’m adding a decent amount of food waste to the bin. It helps absorb excess moisture and helps to prevent wet materials from fusing together.
Hope that helps, Ken! Thanks for the great question.
[tags]worm bin, worm composting, vermicomposting, aeration, composting, compost, compost bin, compost turning[/tags]