Well, it’s getting on towards THAT time of year again, so I’ve been thinking a lot more about what I’m going to do about keeping an active outdoor vermicomposting system. In all honesty, if it wasn’t for the fact that I’ll be continuing to pick-up coffee grounds (from a local coffee shop), I might be content to focus solely on my indoor systems – but alas, those grounds WILL need a home!
We haven’t received any snow yet, and temperatures have actually remained fairly mild (time of year considered) so the trick will be to get things rolling without overheating the bed and/or using up more resources than necessary. As I’ve discovered, this can be easier said than done! I recently selected the stretch of windrow I wanted to convert into my winter bed (a different location from the last couple of years, just to keep things interesting) and added some aged manure + some leftover tomatoes and squash etc from this year’s crop. I then covered it with a thick layer of straw.
This morning I decided to take some temperature readings and – as you can see (below) – there are definitely some zones a bit warmer than I’d like them to be.
The weather is expected to turn a lot colder over the next few days though, so I’m hopeful that will help to cool things off and slow things down a bit in the bed. Once the weather gets even more wintry I’ll start thinking about adding more “food” materials, more straw, and of course – my trusty tarp!
I have a feeling the steady supply of coffee grounds is going to make a BIG difference this year. In my experience this is an excellent material for stimulating microbial heating. The key will be to avoid having it get “too hot”, though, since it dries out and becomes a lot less “worm friendly”.
Anyway – should be fun! As always, I will keep everyone posted!
P.S. If you are new to all this winter vermicomposting stuff, you may want to check out the “Winter Worm Composting” section on the HOT TOPICS page, where you will find quite a few links to previous blog posts relating to this topic.