Winter Vermicomposting 2011

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.

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    • cody
    • November 11, 2011

    Hey bently as a home for those Coffee grounds hows about a Worm Inn Coffee Ground Challenge?

    Just a suggestion!
    BTW your Collombola Composting you did a while back gave me an idea and i’m trying my hand at a Collombola only colony 😉 Tell you the results when i get em!

    • Susan
    • November 17, 2011

    I’m interesting in the outdoor worm trench this winter. I live in Florida, so no chance of snow. I do have squirrels, racoons and snakes. Will the snakes think I set up a a worm cafe for them, and the other animals will raid the food. Any suggestions?

    Thanks for all your great info!

    • joe
    • November 21, 2011

    Susan, I guess it depends on the snake, of course. But I had a little rat snake in my bin, very cute, curious, and shy. She/he was a beautiful yellow with black markings. I didn’t see her carrying any of my worms out of the bin. She appeared about half a dozen times. Then when I lined my outdoor bin with a Styrofoam insulation product, I didn’t see her anymore; I guess I closed all her doorways and she’s not a digger.
    I didn’t line the bottom of my bin with a strong mesh, but I understand it is necessary in some locals, because of the burrowing animals. I’ve had my worms for two months now, and I’ve had no problems with the zillions of squirrels that live here. I haven’t seen any curious racoons, but my bin lid is heavy enough to keep them out, even if I have it partially open for my oxygen.
    Good luck,


    • Susan
    • November 21, 2011

    Thanks, Joe, for the info. I have big black racers. I saw something on this site that said snakes like worms so I was looking for some feedback. I would prefer to do a trench, which seems pretty exposed compared to your outdoor bin.

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