Using Leaves as a Bedding / Food Source for Worms…

“Can leaves be a bedding and feed source for worms?” ~ Art

Hi Art,

Leaves – as in ‘fall leaves’ – are an excellent bedding/food for worms, and a fantastic composting substrate in general.

They tend to fall in the carbon-rich range of organic matter, but their C:N ratio tends to be MUCH lower than that of paper/cardboard, and they decompose quite readily – especially when shredded then moistened.

Leaves are also an excellent winter insulation and food material for outdoor worm beds. Mix them into your beds and lay them thick over top and your worms should stay snug and well fed during the cold months ahead.

One important thing to mention. I tend to think of fall leaves as a ‘secondary’ bedding material – i.e. you are better off if you don’t use them as the only bedding material in a given system.

While they do tend to be a good carbon source (helping to balance C:N) they are not very absorbent at all (a major issue), and also have enough nitrogen that they can help to stimulate excessive heating of your system if only mixed with n-rich wastes.

As such, if you plant to add leaves to your worm bins/beds, I highly recommend including some standard bedding materials as well, such as shredded cardboard or newspaper.

In case you are wondering, green leaves should generally be considered a nitrogen (i.e. ‘green’) waste, likely having a C:N somewhere in the range of 20:1 to 40:1. If mixed with a sufficient quantity of ‘browns’ (the bedding types of materials), leaves can be a good food source once they start to rot.

Hope this helps!

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