Winter Worm Windrow – 01-13-10

Compost Thermometer
Now THAT’S more like it!

Hi Everyone,
I just wanted to provide a quick update post on the winter worm windrow front. As you can see (in the picture), things are definitely looking up already!

Yesterday after I wrote my blog post I added some food waste and some molasses-water to the bed, and also buried a decent sized “hot water bottle” (simply filled a big jug with hot water) in the middle as well – all in an effort to help get some sort of upward temperature trend started.

Interestingly enough, the temps in the bed were already up a little bit by that point (but nothing to get overly excited about), so I was fairly optimistic that I would find a somewhat warmer worm bed by today. I certainly didn’t expect to find any temps close to 20 C (68 F) though! (I actually ended up finding a warmer zone than the one I was reading for the photo above).

In some ways I definitely lucked out this week! Apart from all the great stuff that’s been added to the bed, the weather has actually warmed up a fair bit, and it has been quite sunny! The tarp is black, so it’s safe to say that any sunlight falling on the bed can certainly help to warm it up. Temperatures are actually expected to climb just above the freezing mark by Saturday (still with sunny conditions), so think the bed is definitely going to be in really good shape by early next week. In fact, I will more than likely unplug the rope lights sometime over the next few days and see if I can maintain decent temps without them.

Anyway – just wanted to share that with everyone!

Previous Winter Worm Windrow Posts
Winter Worm Composting Windrow
Winter Worm Windrow – 12-03-09
Winter Worm Windrow – 12-09-09
Winter Worm Windrow – 01-12-10

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    • Andrew
    • January 14, 2010

    Bentley, have you ever used a solar camp shower? It’s basically a black water bottle you put in the sun to heat up water for a shower. The one I have only holds 5 gal., so it obviously wouldn’t work for your windrow. But what if you used a heavy duty garbage bag (~33 gal./125 liter) & filled it so it holds a few inches of water when sprawled out? I wonder if there’s enough sunlight where you are to warm the water enough to make it worth while.

    • Bentley
    • January 14, 2010

    Hi Andrew – I have definitely seen those before (and thought they were a great idea). So, are you thinking in terms of some sort of black water blanket that would go on top of the bed? That’s a great idea – I guess my only concern there would be the challenge of keeping it from leaking. I wonder if an old water bed matress (partially filled) would do the trick? (assuming you could get one that was black)

    I was also wondering if there would be any advantage to adding a sheet of thick clear plastic over top of the tarp – to basically trap more of the heat. It would be like a mini greenhouse effect.

    • Andrew
    • January 14, 2010

    Hi, Bentley. I thought if you capture some of the heat in water, it could extend the heating from the sun past sunset. The heat in the water would continue to bleed out into the ground for a bit longer. The more water, the better.

    Yeah, I was also wondering how to keep the water from leaking out of the bag. My initial thought was simply to fold over (or roll) the open edge a few times and duct tape it. The bags I’m thinking of are pretty thick (8-9 mil?). The kind for heavy duty gardening use. You’d have to test it out, but I think they could withstand the heat.

    A water bed mattress sounds great. Are they dark? Or maybe you could paint it black? Another option would be to go to an oil change place and see if they have empty black liter/quart containers. Fill enough of those with water and they should heat up pretty good.

    Building a little (maybe 1 ft. above the windrow) hoop greenhouse could help. It wouldn’t have to be very fancy as long as there’s no severe wind in your area. Not sure how you’d access the windrow if it was covered though.

  1. molasses + food=…I am glad you did that Bentley!

    Before our string of 12-19 degree F nights, I did the same thing–lots of food and molasses in one region…added a lot more straw, black cloth, then clear plastic. The top layer was a little crusty, but after 2 days of 50s–I dug in to find masses of wormies! Whew, I was worried they were all gonna be goners.

    • Bentley
    • January 15, 2010

    Thanks Andrew! Definitely some good ideas there!
    Heather – I appreciated the molasses nudge in one of your other comments!

    Hopefully I will be finding masses of wormies before too long as well!

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