Here is a question from Wayne:
I would like to start a worm composting bin. I want it
outside. I have a lot of scrap lumber laying around. My qestion is how
big? Also I live in Central Texas so is the heat going to be to much
for them. I would love to do it indoors but my wife is having none of
it including the garage. Any advice on size would greatly help. Thanks
I’ve heard that the heat of summer can get pretty crazy in Texas (and other southern states), so site location will certainly be a very important consideration. For starters, I’d strongly suggest constructing the bin in a full-shade location – preferably as spot that still gets a decent breeze.
A wooden system is definitely a great idea since it will ‘breathe’ much better than something made out of plastic (I would never, ever recommend putting a plastic worm bin outside in Texas summer heat). As long as you keep the material nice and moist, the evaporative cooling should really help to lower the temps inside.
I would also make the system partially in-ground if possible – even if this simply meant digging a pit below. The subsurface soil should be a fair bit cooler than the ambient air temps. Perhaps partially embedding the bin into a north-facing hill (if you happen to have one of your property) would be another option.
Size of the system is an important consideration. I’d recommend a fairly large bin (perhaps a cubic yard or bigger) since this will help to prevent rapid temperature and moisture fluctuations. Of course, with larger size you will need to be a lot more cautious about what, and how much you add to the bin – particularly when you first set it up. You should definitely start with a really high carbon-to-nitrogen ratio habitat – lots of shredded cardboard, newsprint, peat most etc. Mix in some food materials as well, but definitely don’t fill the entire thing with manure for example, or you’ll end up with even more heating concerns. Bulky materials like the shredded cardboard will also help to increase airflow (and evaporative cooling) in the bin.
When all else fails, you might also try various artificial cooling techniques. One of the easiest methods is to simply rotate a bunch of frozen water bottles in the bin. If on the other hand you are looking for something a little more high-tech, perhaps Nathan’s ‘Counter Current Soil Cooler‘ on the Vermicomposters Forum would be up your alley.
Hope this helps, Wayne!