Scott’s Heated Worm Box Growth Experiment

Just before the holidays, George Mingin and I had a small (Worm Farming Alliance) test launch for our new worm growing guide. Even though the guide is an “early first edition”, the response was amazing. More than a few members seemed eager to start implementing George’s growing methods right away.

One such person was Scott Neitzke, who sent me an email not long after that to let me know about a new worm growing set-up he had built for himself.

Here is what he had to say (with images):

Hi Bentley, I mentioned I was starting a project based off of your and George’s project. My goal is make a heated box that contains 2 18-gallon Rubbermaid roughnecks that can be kept at a near constancy of 77 F (25 C) the way George does with his Red Word breeding.

I came up with this box utilizing a light bulb. The box was first set up in a barn with our temperatures of 50 F (10 C) high, 30 F (-1.1 C) low. I could not keep the box consistent with light bulbs ranging from 23 watt to 60 watt.

I brought the box inside the house where temperatures are a low of 62 and a high of 67 (16.7 – 19.4 C). I got the box to stabilize at 78 F (25.6 C) degrees with a 29 watt light bulb. I do plan on getting the box back out into the barn after I makeshift a homemade heating pad the the Rubbermaid roughnecks can sit upon inside the box. My first 3 week test will be inside the house where I plan on counting cocoons at the end of 3 weeks. My bedding material is composted and aged horse manure, shredded cardboard, and dried fall leaves. They have a small feeding of watermelon with a dusting of ground oyster shell. I will let you know my findings.

I really love this idea – and I wonder how well it might work in colder spots if it was insulated, and if two bulbs were used instead of just one?

Scott sent me a follow-up to share some additional thoughts:

The one concern I have with this is that I have tile floors in the house and concrete floors in the barn. The temperature at the floor level is reporting 64 F (17.8 C). I don’t think it would be a fire hazard, but whoever tries this on carpeted floors need to be warned. I know we could put an elevated floor in the box made of drywall to absorb the heat which would add further costs. The box I made is out of one (1) piece of plywood to keep costs down. I have $51 invested for this unit (light fixture, plug, electrical box, angle aluminum and screws. Plus the $7.49 for each Rubbermaid roughneck. I had the Rubbermaids for other experiments, so I better add that into the cost.

This is a REALLY great point! Please DO exercise caution with a set-up like this – especially if you ramp things up with additional bulbs (insulation etc), and do set it on top of carpet (really – it should be up on some sort of heat resistant base if at all possible).

I definitely appreciate Scott sharing his new set-up with us, and look forward to his future updates!

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    • Jeanne
    • January 16, 2015

    Has anyone tried the heated mats you can get for greenhouses? They are waterproof and are made to heat pots from the bottom to encourage good root growth. The boxes could sit directly on them. I have seen some in my sisters greenhouse, but haven’t set one up with my worms – mainly because I live in Houston Texas and it rarely freezes here. I do have my worms in a styrofoam cooler to protect them from the heat in summers (100+).

    • jeff
    • January 16, 2015

    Would using roof ice melting cable and wrapping it around the bin heat it up enough to leave it out in winter? Im building one now.

    • Barry Hocking
    • January 18, 2015

    Hi, Great Idea. I was wondering if it would be OK to put an aquarium heater into a GLASS bottle filled with water. That is what I use to keep my black soldier fly larvae going over winter. Regards, Barry.

    • Miles Cunningham
    • January 20, 2015

    I had to move a few years back and needed to do something with my worms as my ex wasn’t up to looking after them. Incandescent rope lights work great for heating, cheaper then heating pads and can be stringed anywhere you need them. I’m In Edmonton with all the worms outside and only my heating cords to keep the frost out. Worked great and winter two is doing just as good. I originally set up these lights for heating my seedlings but turned them into worm warmers.

    • Mary Lindsey
    • January 28, 2015

    I tried the aquarium heater and it didn’t seem to heat enough.

    • Barry Hocking
    • January 29, 2015

    Hi Mary,

    We live in a climate that does not get all that cold. I keep forgetting you get snow brrrrrrrrr. Don’t like that cold stuf inside ice boxes.

    Jokes aside sorry it did not work for you. Best Wishes, Barry.

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