Help Your Worms Beat The Heat
Understandably, a topic that seems to come up a LOT this time of year is that of overheating worm bins. It is something I’ve had to deal with myself up here in the ‘Great White North’ (ok, so Southern Ontario isn’t really all that far north), so I can only imagine how much of a challenge it must be in more southerly locations.
Generally, once temps start to creep up towards 90 F (~ 33C) Red Worms start to reach their upper threshold of heat tolerance and can start to die if additional measures are not taken.
I’ve added this post in our ‘Reader Questions’ section since I’ve included a really helpful email from one of our readers (who wishes to remain anonymous). She has provided some great ideas for how to keep a vermicomposting system – specifically a stacking plastic bin – cool in the summer. I will add some additional thoughts as well.
Being a newbie I was totally unprepared for a heat wave last month,
and I unwittingly killed maybe 1,000 worms. I did a lot of web
surfin’ and question askin’ and wanted to share what I’ve learned to
keep my Can O Worms cool(er). Temps have been in the mid 90s in my
area this week and I’ve had no worms die!
This should work for any multi-tray, continuous flow type of system
- make sure your unit is in deep shade
- place lots of damp shredded newspaper in the very bottom of your
unit – this will prevent a mass suicide (this would have saved my
worms last time!)
- lots of damp newspaper on top of your working tray
- If you have any empty trays, put them under your full/working trays
and fill them with damp crumpled newspaper – this will give your lil
worms more places to cool off.
- open the spigot to get a little more airflow
- make sure all the ventilation holes are not plugged or covered.
(The vent holes are small and few in the Can O Worms.)
- remove the lid and drape a wet old white sheet (or burlap or any
light fabric) over the unit. This will draw cooling air into the unit.
Our friend sent in another great suggestion yesterday, which is to place frozen water bottles in the system to help keep things cool. I think this would be a great way to combat heat, and it would be relatively simple to keep a constant rotation of these bottles going.
Here are a couple more suggestions I’ve thought of:
- Keep the worms in a very well ventilated bin, such as that made from wooden slats – if you add water regularly, the evaporation will really help to cool things off
- Dig a deep hole in a shady location and lower your bin down into it – be sure to leave some space around the outside for air flow – alternatively, you could simply create a worm pit vermicomposting system directly in the ground
Do you have any strategies for helping your worms beat the heat? If so please write in a share them – I’ll gladly add a second installment on this topic if I get some more ideas.