When Sphagnum moss decomposes, it forms peat moss as a product. This brown fibrous peat moss usually forms in peat bogs over many years. Although peat consists of any organic matter, most harvested peat sold in garden centers primarily consists of Sphagnum moss.
A Peat moss mixture is the best bedding for worm composting. Worms do not have a respiratory system and breathe through their skins, so moisture is crucial. Fortunately, using peat moss is an excellent way to retain moisture in your garden and worm farms.
People who practice worm composting, called vermicomposting, use peat moss as worm bin bedding. Worm farmers use it to line compost baskets or soil and compost amendment, providing necessary moisture.
Some producers mix commercial peat moss varieties with chemical fertilizers, but such products can be harmful to worms, resulting in unhealthy worm castings.
One way to ensure that the worms are in chemical-free compost is to use Canadian Sphagnum peat moss and add organic material to compost piles.
Worm bedding refers to the process of creating a pH-neutral environment in a worm bin. The high carbon-nitrogen ratio and sufficient beneficial microbes allow the composting worms to produce all-natural vermicast.
Even though worms prefer a wet environment, excess moisture can drive worms to leave the compost bin. Peat moss is an excellent option for worm bedding because it absorbs excess water from the compost and enhances oxygenation for compositing.
There are two ways you can use peat moss for worm bedding: peat moss as the only constituent and peat moss mixed with other components.
You can use just peat moss as worm bedding. However, dry peat moss has a slightly acidic pH, unsuitable for worms. Farmers dampen the peat moss and let it sit for a day before adding it to the worm composting bin.
The worm bedding with only peat moss is suitable for small-level worm farms for a short period. If used for long periods, you need to change the bedding every two weeks to prevent protein poisoning.
Using peat moss is not feasible because you will need to change it frequently, disturbing the worm life. Therefore, it is best to mix peat moss with other elements in a 50-50 ratio. These elements include:
Coconut coir or coconut fiber is made from the outer husks of coconuts. Fairly popular with new vermicomposters, coconut coir helps break down the solid worm bedding providing a clean and fresh environment.
Moreover, it has excellent water and nutrient retention properties that maintain healthy bedding for the worms. It can hold water without getting compact and provides air pockets in the bedding, allowing the worms to burrow easily into the bedding.
Aged horse manure can be the perfect bedding for your worm composting bin. Horse manure quickly balances the worm farm condition when added to the worm bin. The ideal carbon-nitrogen ratio (20:1) makes it a perfect food source for worms.
Using shredded cardboard is an excellent way of putting all those delivery boxes to use. However, you should not put all types of cardboard in your worm bedding.
Shredded newspaper is another great addition to your worm composting bin. Ensure you properly shred the newspaper as it allows oxygen to pass through it while in the bin.
Most inks used in newspapers are soy-based and 100% chemical-free. Similarly, you can add shredded paper to your worm bedding. However, you must remember that the shredded paper should not have a gloss finish or be colored. These materials have certain toxins that can be harmful if the worms eat them.
An essential component of the bedding material, vermicompost, differs from other compost because it has organic matter, which breaks down over time.
Vermicompost includes all sorts of organic stuff like coffee grounds, dead leaves, grass clippings, and scraps like fruits or vegetables.
In addition, dried leaves, garden waste, and wood chips are also good bedding sources.
You should avoid adding dairy products to the worm bin as they are hard to digest. Instead, they attract rodents and worm-eating pests to the bedding.
Red wigglers are excellent at turning non-dairy food into compost. Feeding a small amount of finely powdered eggshells to the European nightcrawlers is advisable because red worms process it.
Worm farming is a great way to replenish your garden naturally, but there are some downsides.
Firstly, it takes red worms a few months to eat the organic feed and turn it into nutrient-rich worm castings. Secondly, if you are too lazy to maintain the bins, they can create a strong unpleasant odor.
Furthermore, food scraps can attract flies, pathogens, and other insects. Also, harvesting the useful soil amendment from the finished compost while keeping the worms safe.
Worm bedding does not require expensive maintenance practices. However, you should check the bedding every other day to ensure that the number of worms does not exceed the bedding.
While adding kitchen scraps to the bedding, make sure to add some beneath it. This way, the worms crawl into the bedding.
Start by adding a small amount of food waste in the bin to allow the worms to get used to the bedding. Then adding worms once the red worms have acclimatized to the environment.
Earthworms are the natural tillers of the soil. They wiggle through the loam while eating it after consuming the required nutrients, excreting the rest as worm castings. These worm castings are fortified with essential nutrients and minerals. Thus, they are the holy grail for plants.
Worms prefer turf with a soft texture and surplus of humus. Worm farming for vermicomposting does not leave worms on the ground.
Instead, farmers rear them in bedding consisting of peat moss or shredded newspaper mixed with food. People add a small amount of soil to the worm bedding to help worms digest the food in their worm farm.
Moisture is an essential component for the survival of worms, and if the soil in worm bedding dries out, the worms will not survive. So, you must use mud for a worm farm capable of retaining moisture.
The soil composition is vital for an effective worm bedding mixture. If you add soil mixed with artificial fertilizers or chemicals, it can adversely affect the worms. Especially for larger worm farms where the earthworms are directly in the soil.
Wash the peat moss until the water runs clear and is free of pests. Add one part moss with one part vermicompost to your worm bin. Add worms to the system and wait a few days to analyze the feeding patterns.
If the worms respond well to the moss, add more worms to the bedding. Keep the bin in a dry and cool place. Plus, put damp cardboard on top of the bedding after adding your red worms.
Whether you are a first-timer or a regular vermicomposter, proper preparation of your worm composting bin and supplying good bedding is essential for profitable worm farming.
Also, knowing what worms eat can help a great deal in worm farming. It is safe to say that peat moss is a necessity for good bedding of worm bins. It retains moisture, improves aeration, and provides an environment similar to the worms' natural habitat.
So, give peat moss a try, and you will surely get good results. But, only buy natural moss that is free of chemicals and fertilizers!
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