Worms in Compost Tumblers
A question from Kristine:
I have a compost tumbler with about 1000 worms in it. I’ve noticed
here lately that some of them have turned a little pale:( Do u no why
this is happening?
In all honesty, a compost tumbler is not an ideal habitat for composting worms. For one thing, tumblers are designed to be rotated – but worms are generally going to prefer a habitat that’s not being disturbed all that much. Sure, you COULD simply set up a tumbler like a worm bin and never rotate it (or very rarely), but in my mind that would be a waste of a good tumbler (especially if it was one of the expensive commercial models). In general, compost tumblers are designed to be hot (or at least semi-hot) composting systems, so aside from stressing the worms out with lots of disturbance, there’s a decent chance you’d end up cooking them or killing them off via ammonia release.
I should, however, point out that compost tumblers can still be fantastic tools for us vermicomposters! They offer an excellent way to “pre-compost” various challenging materials like coffee grounds, grass clippings etc, and just generally a great way to make food mixes that your worms will go crazy for! I have plans to construct my own compost tumbler this spring so I’ll certainly be writing a lot more about all this before too long.
Just so ya know, composting worms can do very well in regular backyard composters. Be sure to check out these posts if you want to learn more:
Red Worms and Backyard Composters
Composting Worms In Your Backyard Composter