Reading Time: 4 minutes 🍃
For gardeners looking to start worm composting or vermicomposting at home, you might be wondering what types of compost and other materials you can include in your worm compost bin. Do worms like mushroom compost, and is it a good option for your worm farm?
Composting worms like mushroom compost as bedding in the worm bin. Mushroom compost reduces acidity and retains moisture well to provide the moist environment that the worms enjoy. The loose structure of the mushroom compost allows the worms to tunnel and move easily through the medium.
Vermicomposting is a good method of producing top-quality compost at home to use in your garden or vegetable crops. The worms in your vermicomposter will need several ingredients to keep them comfortable, happy, and producing. Mushroom compost can be one of these ingredients if some care is exercised.
Can You Use Mushroom Compost In Your Worm Farm?
Starting a worm farm or vermicomposting is a good idea to provide nutrient-rich, quality compost that will feed and benefit your plants.
The most common worms used in a vermicomposting operation are red wrigglers due to their prolific breeding habits, voracious appetite, and ability to turn organic matter into excellent compost!
Compost is generally included as an ingredient when you start your worm farm, harvest worm castings, expand the operation, or need to reduce the acidity in the worm bin.
Although the worms will eat some of the less decomposed parts of the compost, their primary food should be a fresh organic material such as vegetable waste from your kitchen.
The main use for compost in a worm farm is to provide bedding or base material that the worms can use as a place to hide, breed, and shelter from unfavorable temperatures.
Can Mushroom Compost Be Used As Bedding For Worms?
Worms used in a vermicomposting operation do not like an acidic environment and will not thrive where the pH is too low and will die if the environment is too acidic or too alkaline.
The ideal bedding pH for composting worms is between 6.0 and 7.0. Variations outside of this range will be detrimental to the well-being of the worms and your compost production.
It is for this reason that worm farmers do not feed acidic organic material to worms, such as citrus fruits, onions, garlic, and pineapples.
The typical pH of mushroom compost is 6.6 or 6.7, which puts it in the ideal tolerance range of most composting worms. Consequently, mushroom compost is an ideal bedding material for compost worms.
As compost production in the worm farm progresses, the pH becomes more acidic due to the chemical processes involved in the breakdown of the organic matter and ammonia in the compost bin.
Adding additional mushroom compost to the worm bin will bring balance to the building acidity and reduce pH levels to within the acceptable range.
Harvesting worm castings from your worm bin will reduce the volume of material in the bin, which can be stressful to the worms and cause overcrowding.
Fresh mushroom compost can be added to the bid to bolster the bedding material and give the worms more space to tunnel and live.
Will Worms Eat Mushroom Compost?
Worms in a vermicomposting bin will prefer to eat fresh organic material such as vegetable and herb scraps from your kitchen. Potato skins, banana peels, overripe tomatoes, pumpkin skins, and apple cores are favored foods for composting worms.
As a side note, you should not give your worms too many tomatoes since tomatoes are acidic and can increase the overall acidity in the worm bin.
The worms prefer to eat this fresh food than partially decomposed organic matter found in compost. They will eat parts of the mushroom compost that are not fully decomposed, but this would be limited food for these worms, and they will do better on fresh food.
Adding mushroom compost to a worm bin is less about providing food for them and more about providing accommodation for the worms.
Mushroom compost works well as bedding for the worms because of its moisture retention characteristics, and the worms like a moist environment.
Are There Risks Using Mushroom Compost For Worms?
If you are considering using mushroom compost in your worm bin, it is important to note that it holds moisture very well, and you should limit the water added to the bedding.
Too much moisture in the mushroom compost can cause the bin to become too wet and humid, encouraging mold growth and other harmful organisms in the worm bin, which can cause problems for the worms.
If you use mushroom compost as the bedding material, do not add too much water to the bin; the moisture-holding capability of the compost can make the environment too moist!
It is important to use good quality mushroom compost in your worm bin to reduce the risk of chemical contaminants used in the commercial production of mushrooms. Some of the chemicals used can be detrimental to the health of your worms.
Alternatives To Mushroom Compost For Worms
While mushroom compost can be a great option for worms, there are a few other alternative choices for bedding material that can be just as good, if not better.
Some other bedding options for composting worms include:
- Compost made from fruit and vegetable scraps
- Used coffee grounds
- Peat moss
- Coconut coir
- Shredded newspaper
- Shredded brown cardboard
In my composting worm farm, I do not stick to a single bedding material type, and I change the material used from time to time. I have found that coconut coir, shredded newspaper, and coffee grounds or combinations of these materials work well as an alternative to mushroom compost.
Each of these options provides different benefits for worms and can help create a healthy environment for them to thrive. Experiment with a few different choices to see what works best for your worms, and you’ll be sure to have a happy and healthy worm bin in no time!
Mushroom compost is a good option as bedding material for composting worms. The mushroom compost is mostly used as housing for the worms rather than as a food supply.
Mushroom compost helps to reduce acid buildup in the worm bin, which is a natural side effect of the decomposing organic material. The moisture retention capability of mushroom compost is ideal for keeping the moisture level suitable for the worms.