Mega Manure Mayhem

Question from Adrian:

Hi Bentley,
Quick question – I am about a month after moving my worms from a
plastic system to the Worm Inn Mega, and during the move I mixed some
month old horse manure into the bedding. As you can guess, things are
now heating up to 90° in the centre, so my worms are heading to the
outside of the bag. Is there anything I can do, aside regular airing
and water spraying, to get past this stage more quickly?

Hi Adrian,

I felt it was important to address this one here on the blog since I very regularly mention using “aged horse manure” as a living material. With a system the size of a Worm Inn Mega, this can have the potential to create some heating issues – especially if a lot of food is being added as well.

** NOTE TO SELF ** – it might not have been a bad idea to remember this before recently adding more than 19 lb of food waste + LOTS of living material to your own Mega! Be sure to start monitoring temps regularly! lol

In the case of a system already overheating, I would suggest using a hand rake to loosen up the materials in the upper half as much as possible (helping heat to escape). I would keep these materials moist and (if possible) point a fan towards the Inn. That said, it’s really important to be careful with adding water – too much added and you will end up with a hot anaerobic mess. Air flow does contribute to heating, but it’s also extremely important for heat release and for keeping things oxygenated (oxygen can be depleted even more quickly as things heat up).

Rotating some frozen water bottles (big pop bottles might be even better) between the system and your freezer should help to cool things off as well.

Other than that (and obviously NOT adding any more food/manure in the meantime), it’s basically going to be a waiting game.

Moving forward, my suggestion would be to: 1) make sure the manure is well-aged (a bit more earthy in smell and appearance) before using it, and 2) to add it in fairly thin layers, without too much mixing in with the food wastes.

Hope this helps!

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    • Steve
    • September 25, 2014

    This reminds me of this past frigid winter when I had some composting going in a side room and I was amazed how the room got toasty. Thankfully no worms were in that bin. Now that winter is coming again all that composting heat could be used for something useful. I came across this on the web that shows a developing business utilizing composting heat:

    • Bentley
    • September 25, 2014

    That’s really cool, Steve! Thanks for sharing.

    • Curtis
    • October 1, 2014

    Appreciate the info Bentley, thanks!

    • Danny
    • October 13, 2014

    Thanks for that link, Steve. I have invented exactly that compost heating some years ago, and started with the realization in Australia as a non-profit organization, however, no sufficient funds, so it did not materialize.

    I am very glad to see it has been brought to life and hope it will be used widely. It is a big step forward with renewable energy if not one of the most important ones. Plants are the most efficient solar collectors.

  1. This article turned out to be quite timely for me, Bentley. I had just set up my own Mega with plenty of year-old horse manure and some pureed veggies, but then found it was heating up in places. Inserting a large pop bottle of very cold water was all it took to get the bin through that little crisis. Thanks!

    • Bentley
    • October 21, 2014

    Hi Mary – I’m glad it helped! Aged manure can be a bit tricky – but it’s fantastic stuff once you get the hang of using it.

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