When To Add More Bedding and Stop Adding Food

Here are some good questions from Gayle:

I was wondering, when do I add more bedding? I started my worm bin and have had the worms for about 1-2 weeks. they seem to be doing fine. I seem to have a lot of waste to put in though. I have rotated putting the waste around the bin, but I feel like I would be putting waste on top the old waste. do I need to add more bedding? do I need to just wait a while to add more waste? I used an 8-10 gallon Rubbermaid container. the bedding was about half to the top. I do have another Rubbermaid container, do I need to split the worms and make 2 bins? help!!! how much is too much waste?
thanks for your help.

Hi Gayle,
If you feel like you are piling waste materials on top of waste materials it is definitely time to stop adding more. This is especially important when just starting out with a new worm bin. Almost invariably, worms in a new system need some time to adjust and won’t be processing wastes at their full potential. I always recommend letting the worms be your guide. If it seems like they are consuming the food quite quickly, then by all means add more, but if not just let them be for a while. This way you are far more likely to avoid a dangerous over-feeding situation. I know it can be frustrating when you have a lot of wastes to compost and it seems like the worms can only process a fraction of it, but patience is definitely important when just starting out. I can assure you that over time the worms will start consuming more and more of your scraps.

It certainly helps if you can aid the composting process somewhat. Cutting, freezing, and cooking of the wastes can help kick-start the breakdown process – but some caution is warranted since it is easier to add too much waste at once without realizing it (especially if you cut it up into really small pieces).

When just starting out – assuming you have a lot of bedding in your bin to begin with – you shouldn’t need to add too much more bedding for the first little while. If you notice conditions getting a little wet in the bin however, it might be a good time to start adding some dry bedding every time you add food waste (or every other time). Simply put some in the bottom of your feeding pockets.

As for splitting your worms – unless you feel that you have too many for your current bin, I would definitely wait at least a few months before splitting up your population. Starting another bin with a new batch of worms might be a better idea if you are really keen to process more wastes (and don’t want to wait for your system to become more efficient).

Hope this helps!

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    • Bob Packard
    • November 6, 2008

    Hi Bentley, seems there is one very important point not covered here.
    How large is the worm population???

    • Bentley
    • November 7, 2008

    Good point, Bob!
    I was just assuming some standard amount (eg 1 lb), but if Gayle ordered more worms than her system can handle, obviously it WOULD make sense to split the system into two bins.

    Hopefully Gail will chime in here and let us know.

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