Slow Progress with a VermBin48

A question from Kathy A:

I built a vermbin 48 a couple of years ago, it survives on neglect for the most part. My worms don’t ever get to the fat wiggly size, and I don’t have a huge quantity of them. It’s in my basement, which is cool 55-60 degrees. Suggestions?

Hi Kathy!

As I’ve shown with my “Insurance Bin” experiment, it is not difficult AT ALL to keep a culture of Red Worms going for many months on end with virtually no additional food (and relatively little bedding).

But there is definitely a decent difference between “survive” and “thrive” (as discussed in my “80/20 Vermicomposting” post).

Lower numbers of smaller worms is a tell-tale sign of neglect – but the good news is that it’s a situation easily remedied! Simply add more food and bedding, on a somewhat regular basis.

I recently “rescued” yet another badly neglected (very small) bin of mine by moving a lot of the worms over to a larger bin containing aged manure and various other goodies. Within a few weeks the worms went from tiny, very dark in color, to “normal” or even “big” in size, with bright coloration, striping etc and they are happily breeding away as well.

I haven’t gone overboard with feeding at all – but, for the first time in many months, I am actually paying attention to the system and providing them with some new food periodically. Amazing how big an impact something so simple can have.

Temperature is another factor to watch. The “ideal” temperature range for Red Worms is more like 20-30C (68-86F). But the good news for a system as big as a VB48 is that bulking it up with a fair bit more bedding, and feeding more regularly should help to stimulate more microbial heating, which will bump temps up for sure.

When I had my VB48 down in our (cool) basement, it seemed like I was spending more time trying to keep it cool (sometimes in pretty ridiculous ways) than warm!

Anyway – I hope this helps!

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    • Shaul Grantz
    • December 14, 2018

    I’ve developed a heating solution for the UWB using Rope Light, a dimmer switch and solar-reflective Mylar plastic sheeting. The bag sits in an unheated room which is about 15C. The current temp in the bag is 26C. It’s possible the same idea could be adapted to other systems as well.

    • Bentley
    • December 14, 2018

    That’s great, Shaul!
    I played with rope lights as a potential warming strategy for a larger bed outside but it didn’t seem to help too much (was a much colder situation though). Have been curious to test them out a bit more. Thanks for the info!

    • Shaul Grantz
    • December 14, 2018

    I previously used the same exact system to heat my 2 outside bins, through consecutive winters. Basically, here’s the idea. The rope light contains tiny incandescent bulbs (not LED’s) that give off heat. I have 5 metres at 16 watts/metre = 80w. The rope light is attached to the inside of the frame surrounding the UWB but outside of the bag. A dimmer switch is installed to adjust the temps between 0-80w. Sheets of solar-reflective Mylar are attached to the steel frame using Neodymium magnets (the super-strong magnets found in computer hard drives). For those with wooden or plastic frames, the Mylar can be attached directly to the bag, using the same magnets on the outside and plastic-coated steel washers on the inside. The magnets should be strong enough to easily pass through the bag fabric to hold the Mylar in place securely without damage to the fabric. Plastic-coated steel washers are usually sold as protective ‘feet’ for tables and chairs. The top open corners of the frame/bag are covered with sections of newspaper. Using long-stemmed oven-type thermometers (with the dial on top) inside the bag, the temps can be adjusted (using the dimmer switch) to achieve the desired results. Also, the rope light should not be attached permanently to the inside of the frame but rather be easily removed to facilitate easy access to the harvesting panel.

    • Richard Ince
    • January 18, 2019

    I live in Texas, hot summers. I plan to have my worm bins in my unairconditioned shop. Will this affect my worms?

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