Finding the Right Type of Soil

by Ryan Whitaker
(Vancouver, WA)

I started my first worm bin about 3 months ago. They were doing pretty well until I noticed some of them trying to escape. That told me they weren't happy in there. I figured their bin was becoming too rich with castings. So I got another bin, prepared it with air holes, bought some garden soil (I'm not where I can just go dig up any soil from my yard), mixed in some sandy soil from a friend's yard, and mixed in some peat moss. I was trying to make a rich, yet loose type of soil for them. I wetted it down pretty well, and picked out the worms from the first bin and put them into the new bin.

The first night there was an attempt to make a mass exodus! They were not happy with the new bin at all!!

I've had problems with them trying to escape, despite all I have done to make them happy.

I'm afraid the store bought soil I got had too much bark mulch in it, which is splintery and acidic.

SO - my question: What is the best kind of soil to use in a new bin? Something the worms will accept?

Thank you!

Ryan Whitaker

(PS - I grew up in Otis Orchards! We owned 7 acres behind the KOA on Barker Rd, on the banks of the river (we sold them their 10 acres).

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Oct 04, 2021
Starting a New Worm Bin and Using Soil
by: Pauly

Hello Ryan,

I never encourage anyone to buy "soil" or other bedding material (even if organic) to add to a worm bin.

Initially, adding any soil from your backyard (and only a pinch) to a new worm bin is good. This is only if the bin has not been is waiting the arrival of your first batch of worms.

This allows the indigenous microbes to help break down the bedding (which should be made of mostly carbon material) and a small amount of nitrogen/kitchen scraps.

Ideally you want a ratio of 20:1 Carbon to Nitrogen or higher (40:1). Let the bin stabilize for 1 to 2 weeks, then introduce the worms.

When starting a new bin the nitrogen should be just a handful and placed under a few inches of your bedding material, which is still worm food over time.

When you want to start another worm bin, just wait for the first bin to mature and contain mostly worm castings. Move half the contents into the new bin and add some fresh kitchen scraps under the worm castings and more carbon material, like pieces of carbon, newsprint, fall leaves, etc.

No need to inoculate the new bin. The castings has all the microbes needed to begin breaking everything down for the worms.

Buying anything from outsources other than peat moss or coco coir is a big gamble, especially if it is ant type of "soil". This very well could have been your issue.

Always keep your worm bin JUST MOIST and NOT wet. The bin needs to breathe to allow oxygen in for the worms and microbes.

If it begins to dry out, spritz with fresh water on top and keep covered with a layer of cardboard, sheets of newsprint, or a thin plastic sheet, like a cutting sheet.

There's a wealth of info in my free worm farming guide, The Worm Farming Revolution books, and my latest, Brown Thumb Green Thumb.

Hope this helps you and thanks for writing. If I didn't answer your question, just respond to this thread.

All the best Ryan,

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