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Winter one – I got nervous with low temperatures and added a 2 gallon container of water with an aquarium heater in it to the center of the bin. Winter two – I moved all the worms into indoor plastic bins, about 6 of them, due to an out of state work opportunity. Winter three – I made one “insurance” bin for indoors, a plastic footlocker, so it is a bit larger than typical but it has some built in wheels and handle so it is easier to move around. I used the spent grains from my husband’s home brew activities for its composting action along with leaves to be my supplemental heat source. Winter season four (2012) – I have had some near misses with getting ready for winter this year.
I repeated most of this process for several days and things started to cool off and worms were moving into the center “new” area. It looks like I have managed to avert total disaster with my worms and they are settling back into a happier home. Tina Ligon is an avid gardener and composter living at 8000′ in the Colorado Rockies. Rotating the bins and Harvesting Worm Castings (1) When the middle bin is full, do you put moist bedding in the top container with the food for the worms to migrate to? Recycling shredded cardboard with earthworms Not rated yetI have raised worms on cardboard alone. When to harvest worm castings Not rated yetI have a 4 tier worm farm and the next to bottom layer is now full of worm castings. Maybe I’m softening in my old age, I dunno…but at any rate, I have decided to turn my own tumbler into a worm bed this year and see how it pans out! If I put them in compost bins outside throughout the summer will they survive or should I try to collect as many as possible come fall? Had an unusual heatwave in the 90′s and I screwed up and did not move the bin under trees and shield with large umbrella. Nicole – with some very serious preparation of outdoor (in-ground) systems you might at least be able to keep them alive over the winter. I was thinking if your worm tumbler (lol) idea doesn’t work out you may have the ultimate worm food optimizer here. My community garden in MD is thinking about doing this and they do not have the money leverage to spend on something that won’t work properly so needless to say I am very interested in how your plays out. I’m using European night crawlers not red worms because I also needed some deep burrowing worms for my garden.

All was good except it did dry out quickly in the surrounding area; I had the temp in the mid-60s.
Darn, it had heated up to 110F in the core on both ends and the worms were staging a mass exodus up the sides of the bin.
The indoor worms are doing just fine; they just get the normal food scraps and shredded paper. Makes me wonder if people with worm inns only feed one side, as Ive just been piling it in as needed.
The trick is to get the cardboard reduced to a small enough size that it is consumed quickly.
Yeah, I would imagine that trying this in Louisiana would be challenging during the warmer months! They will naturally borrow deeper into their beds when they get warm, or worse will try to escape the bin. I started with a larger bin than usual, a converted refrigerator that is stripped down to being an insulated box.
The biggest problem with it was that I tended to use it as a piling place for papers, so I had to clear it off in order to feed them. Thank goodness my worms seem to have a guardian angel that comes and knocks me over the head so that I go check on them. I think there were enough greener leaves (read nitrogen not just carbon) in the mix that it started composting also. We were to have some cold weather so I decide to put my insulation back into the bin, bad idea. After a few more days the temps were back to reasonable levels and we were about to have some cold weather, lows of about 12F and highs of 22F. It’s easy to get the ph wrong with worm farming, so a great deal of bedding is important. My first compost bin is an open holding bin for leaves and other similar materials that I eventualy blend into my composter with food scraps.
Keep the beds under 80 F through the use of shade, careful watering, or experimenting with putting jugs of ice cold water buried in the bedding. I always add this “controlled hot compost” in just one area of the bin so that there is plenty of space for the worms to move into if it gets too hot. Yes, I got the knock again in a few days and went back to see the worms with their suitcases packed and waiting for the next train out of there to better homes.

So I did put the insulation back in and am happy to report when the 3 days of cold had passed the temperatures were about 60-70F.
Perhaps I can use this as my buffer for heating the bin during our brief and intermittent cold snaps.
Our summers tend not to be really extreme in comparison to many other (more southerly) locations.
I also had several trash bags of loosely packed leaves that I put on top of the worms as insulation, it works great and I can remove them easily when it is time to feed or I am opening the bin up on a nice day. Yep, so what did I do, I dumped it onto one end of the bin and mixed it in a bit with some shredded paper and leaves.
It is a good idea to only mess with one end of the bin at a time, allows for a nice escape route if things go south. First I pushed the material in the middle toward either end and made a clear spot that I filled with about 6 inches of shredded paper that I slightly moistened and added a bit of food scrapes, this was to be the safe haven to move into, similar to a new worm bin. There were a few worms crawling up the side on one end and I realized there just wasn’t much left there for them to munch on so added some food.
It’s a bit riskier to keep ENCs in outdoors in the winter as they are more cold sensitive than red worms. Yes, it started to heat up pretty quickly and smelled pretty darned foul, definitely some anaerobic activity happening. Back to the stinky end – I turned it and added some shredded paper on the bottom because it was wetter than ideal.
Also, my tumbler is located underneath a tree, so that will make a big difference in terms of preventing overheating.
Since I live in Louisiana it would be too hot for the worms in the summer but I’m thinking it might work well in the cooler months. But I promise, only one end at a time and I will check often when I add a quart only of spent grains. I did not replace the carpet or any insulation and left the top propped open during the day.

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