Vermicomposting in Florida

A question from Bernie:

I am interested in vermicomposting, however I live in SW Florida. Is there anything I need to know?
If there is anything special about doing this in Florida, where would I find this information.

Hi Bernie,
This is a good question (and actually a topic I was recently discussing with another reader)! Florida certainly presents some challenges for those wanting to get into worm composting – assuming one is planning to set up a system outside. The climate tends to be VERY hot and VERY humid for a good chunk of the year. The problem with this combination is that it can make it really challenging to keep your system cool enough for the worms. In locations with more of a “dry heat” (Arizona etc), you can take advantage of the benefits of evaporative cooling – but this won’t likely be nearly as effective a strategy for Florida vermicomposters (although I’m sure it can vary from one part of the state to the next).

Aside from the climate, you may also encounter issues with various predators, the scariest among them being the predatory flatworm. I’ve read that these creatures can wipe out an entire worm population in very short order, and there’s next to nothing you can do about it. Keeping your system up off the ground should definitely help to reduce the chance of invasion though.

Two other warm-climate, pain-in-the-butt organisms you’ll likely need to deal with are fire ants and black soldier flies (or more specifically, black soldier fly larvae). Neither of them will likely prevent you from vermicomposting, and perhaps if your goal primarily revolves around processing waste materials, you’ll even come to appreciate the BSFLs – but they can sometimes represent the “straw that broke the camel’s back” for those just trying to have fun with their worm composting efforts.

All that being said, I should mention that there are still plenty of people who are successfully vermicomposting in Florida! RWC friend and contributor, Larry “Garbage Guru” Duke, is a prime example (check out his funny solution for getting rid of fire ants >>HERE<<). Another "Larry" who has done well in Florida is worm industry veteran, Larry Martin (of VermiTechnology Unlimited). One thing that may increase your chances of success is the use one of the tropical composting worms - either the Blue Worm (Perionyx excavatus) or the African Nightcrawler (Eudrilus eugeniae) rather than Red Worms, since they can typically tolerate higher temperatures, and are also faster waste-processors at higher temps.

Anyway – I hope this helps a bit!
8)

Previous Post

Where do worms go to die?

Next Post

Releasing Worms Into the Wild

Comments

    • Eric
    • October 2, 2011

    Bernie,
    We might be neighbors. I live in SW Florida and have had a worm bin outside for about 18 months now, in the shade. I haven’t had to add any worms since the original half-pound batch. My only problem is that the compost is very wet, though I hear this is often the case with plastic worm bins.
    Eric

    • Youtube ( Marthale7)
    • October 5, 2011

    Hi,

    I am about 15 miles south of Ocala in Florida, and what I have found works great is self watering containers ( Earthbox, or wicking grow beds ) look them up on youtube.

    As long as you keep them wet, the worms love the continual wicking action of these, I have both BSF, and Red wigglers going at the same time in these beds. Another option is to go with aquaponics, and grow the worms in the grow beds.

    I have an indoor grow bed with aquaponics, and the worms are building up in numbers there.

    Here is a link to my setup ->

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MH5yOsCY2l4

    Cheers

  1. Your Site really has the best tips!

    I started a Vermicomposting program at Beverly Hills High School and in various local schools!
    check out our website,
    http://wormscansavetheworld.we… & use our site to email us with tips and comments!!! (or comment on our blog)
    if any LA area schools or programs want help setting up a free vermiculture program, contact us!

  2. Outdoors you should not really think about European nightcrawlers.You’ll likely need to keep them stored under your house or something.And that is if it stays cool under there.PE and ANC you just need to make sure you got a heat cable or other means to keep them warm when the temps.drop below mid sixties for long periods.EF do really well here.Just keep them in full shade.Our location on the equator will cook worm bins in minutes if you let sunlight hit it.Fire ants actually like things heated by the sun,such as flower pots.If they overtake a small bin,it will be an end to the worms.My large bin supports a small amount of them.The worms move away from them.In a small bin they will move out or die.Fire ants will eat cocoons.Had a euro cocoon hatch experiment that ended with holes ate into the cocoons and the shell was all that was left.
    Worms do like it here though.Just stick with Eisenia fetida,Perionyx excavatus,or Eudrilus eugeniae.Eisenia hortensis will leave you frustrated after they all die from a heat wave.
    If you want to keep Black soldier flies at bay,you’ll need a screen enclosure.They even lay eggs under my flowthru! One tiny hole and they’ll go through it.After all,they know they don’t have long to live to lay their offspring!

    • rob brundrett
    • July 29, 2015

    was prepping my worm bend for the incoming worms. (which I believe I bought from you ) I use coconut block and put in some food waste and ground up watermelon. Also I sprayed some seaweed and fish emulsion. I’m seeing larving, maybe maggots . what do you think.

    • Bentley
    • August 7, 2015

    Rob – you definitely don’t need kelp and fish emulsion. I’d be considered about salts in the kelp and the potential for ammonia release from the emulsion. If this system is outdoors the maggots could be larvae of any number of different flies. If fairly big, good chance they are black soldier fly larvae.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Help ‘Spread the Worm’ and Earn!

* Get My Free Worm Business Starter Pack *

Password Reset
Please enter your e-mail address. You will receive a new password via e-mail.