Sawdust is a very popular addition to many worm bins and worm farms as it is cheap, easy to find and a great way of recycling old wood. It is important to note that there are certain kinds of sawdust that are not to be used in a worm bin, but more on that later.
Yes, worms can eat sawdust – but should they? Does sawdust work better as good bedding? Will it be suitable for my red wigglers? It is natural to wonder – and that’s exactly what we’re going to look at before you add any to your finished compost.
Can You Put Sawdust In A Worm Bin?
Now that you know that worms can eat sawdust, it’s only natural to wonder whether or not sawdust would do well in a worm bin.
Yes, sawdust will do perfectly fine with your red worms. In fact, you may find that they adore it.
Feeding them the right stuff has everything to do with that.
As it happens, worms will happily eat any kind of organic waste, and it is an excellent way of dealing with it.
And so, if you have any old wood from your garden or furniture, then turning it into sawdust for your worms could be a great way of nourishing your worms and getting rid of the wood.
The only problem you will have with using your own wood is that you need to be absolutely sure that the wood has not ever been treated with harsh chemicals.
In fact, that goes for the sawdust that you can buy in shops, too.
Is Sawdust Used for Worm Bedding Better Than Using it for Worm Food?
A good rule of thumb is always to remember that worms will eat any decaying organic material.
It is essential for their survival that they have a balanced diet of various natural foodstuffs.
One of the great things about worm composting is that it is an excellent way of dealing with natural food waste!
They absolutely love fresh food and kitchen scraps in the form of all kinds of fruits, vegetables, etc.
So why do they need bedding?
Worm bins need what is called ‘bedding’ to complete and balance out the environment within the containers.
Saw dust can help balance a bin that is too wet, or add carbon to a bin that is too high in nitrogen.
The bedding is basically there for them to live in. It needs to be something that has not been treated with chemicals, is able to retain moisture, is biodegradable, and is edible to them.
Yes, even though they have food, they will eat their bedding, so choosing the right one is crucial.
When it comes to sawdust specifically, it does not have much nutritional value for worms and will not do as a sole source of food. However, it can do very well as worm bedding.
If you plan to use sawdust as new bedding for your worms, remember to check the moisture levels.
Sawdust should only be put into a worm composting bin dry if the container is too wet and needs dry organic matter to regain balance.
If, on the other hand, the worm factory is perfectly fine, then you will want to wet the sawdust first, then squeeze it like a wrung-out sponge until they appear to have only retained a little moisture.
Things to Consider When Using Sawdust to feed worms (pros and cons)
Pro: Sawdust retains moisture.
As you know, in order for a worm bin to thrive, the compost worms need to be in a perfect environment at all times.
A worm cannot survive for long in an inadequate environment; however, being stuck inside the worm bin, it will simply die.
As worms breathe through their skin, their environment always needs to be damp, not wet! Sawdust retains water relatively well and could therefore help to keep their environment nice and moist.
Con: Sawdust retains moisture a bit too well.
If you plan to put sawdust or wood shavings into your worm composting bin, it is essential to do so carefully.
Ensure that you are only putting in a bit at a time so that the dust does not absorb all of the moisture within the worm bin.
Pro: It is a natural bedding.
As long as the wood has not been previously treated with chemicals, using this kind of material as bedding is a natural way of keeping your worms happy!
Con: It’s a long composting process.
If fast compost is what you are after, then sawdust will not be the material that you want to put into your worm bin.
It takes a long time for composting worms to make their way through the sawdust and, therefore, will remain in the worm bin for quite some time, even a few weeks.
For bedding that will degrade and be consumed faster, consider using other bedding materials such as horse manure, shredded paper, grass clippings, shredded cardboard, peat moss, or even food scraps like coffee grounds and coco coir, etc.
Pro: It’s very easy to come by.
On the whole, sawdust is a really easy resource to find or even make. Therefore, you likely won’t have to go out of your way to really get the best stuff.
Con: Sawdust does not help with the air flow.
Providing a balanced environment for your worm farm ensures that the entire bin is properly oxygenated.
Covering the surface area with large quantities of sawdust will prevent the air from circulating properly around the worm bin and hurt worms.
The best thing to do would be to mix the sawdust in with the compost, creating drainage holes, airflow and better circulation for the worms.
Con: Not all sawdust is suitable for worms’ farms.
It is essential to only ever feed them organic food when raising worms.
Although small pieces of wood chips and sawdust can be perfect bedding for red wrigglers, treated lumber with chemicals could easily kill them.
Conclusion: Is Sawdust good for worm bins?
As you can see, there are definitely pros and cons to this debate.
In our opinion, collectively, we think you’re better off using the right sawdust as bedding – and to hunt down something a little more nutritious to feed your wigglers on to get the best castings.