Red wiggler worms are like little seeds that grow compost. Add them to a good moist bed and they will multiply while making the best soil conditioner for you. The bedding that worms want is the same as the carbon containing ‘browns’ used to build a regular compost pile. They like absorbent materials like brown leaves, sawdust, peat moss, coconut coir, newspaper, or my current favorite, cardboard.
The classic books such as Worms Eat My Garbage by Mary Applehof recommend newspaper. However, few of us still get the daily paper. I’m too cheap to buy peat moss or coconut coir and I don’t like the dirt and bugs that come with come with leaves or sawdust, so I stick with the loads of cardboard that flow by everyday. Using cardboard for growing worms also keeps it out of the landfills.
Cardboard does have it’s own problems too. It can be hard to tear up to the size people like to feed their worms. Luckily, the worms don’t really mind a chunky bedding. Most folks cut up cardboard with a sharp knife or shears or scissors. Some soak the cardboard in water for easy tearing by hand. Whatever method you choose, the worms will quickly start breaking it down from the edges. I like a finely broken down cardboard bedding because the smaller bits compost quicker and I am looking for fast compost production. I made a DIY cardboard shredder that is still too scary to share. Maybe refinements will let me eventually sell the Better Bedding Shredder, but not yet.
In the meanwhile, if you live in the San Jose area, I would be happy to supply cardboard shreds. The Old Toms Wormery bedding is a mix of cardboard, coffee grounds, and eggshells. Check the oldtomswormery.com website for availability.