Keeping Your Worm Bin Cool

How will I keep my worms cool this summer?

How will I keep my worms cool this summer?

It’s about to get really hot here in Texas for a few months.  This means it’s time for me to consider how I’ll keep my worms happy and eating and pooping.  Worms like temps between 40 and 90 degrees.  My worm bin in the garage is already right at 80 and we’re not even in the dog days of summer yet.

The school worm bins are going to be even tougher because they’re outside.  So, what will I do? I’ve done some research and this is what I’ve found.

For one thing, you could move your worm bin inside when it gets really hot.  Mine is right inside the garage.  It’s a matter of moving it maybe 5 feet to right inside the house when it gets really hot.  I’m sure I’ll do that when we start having 100 plus degree days.

Over at the school, I moved the worm bins to where they are in the shade.  This isn’t quite as optimal as moving them inside, but it’s the best I can do over there.  Maybe it’s the best you can do at your house too.  Having direct sunlight on your worm bin is a sure route to crispy worms.  Move your bin at least into the shade.

Moisture is also helpful.  Have you ever sat outside at a restaurant that had a misting system?  The evaporation of the moisture from your skin felt cool?  The evaporation of moisture from your worm bin will help keep it cool too.

Something else I’m going to try is that, before the school year ended, I got buckets of scraps from the school cafeteria and ground them up in my food processor, put them in ziploc bags and froze them.  I’m planning to feed these chunks of frozen food to the worms.  I believe the coolness of the frozen food, not to mention the moisture of it, will help alot.  I’ve read of people putting frozen water bottles in their worm bins and I’m sure I’ll do that too.

Do you have any other suggestions for keeping a worm bin cool in the summer?

Worms on the Plane

Transporting Composting Worms on a Plane

Worms on the Plane!

This weekend I flew to Oregon to see my niece and her family, including her new one month old son.  Trying to be a good great-aunt, I knew I needed to bring older sister a gift.

What better gift than composting worms?  Isn’t that what every little girl wants?

So, I went to home depot and bought a small white bucket.  I came home and set up a small worm bin in the little bucket.  I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get it on the airplane or not, what with security being what it is, but I knew I had to give it a try.

I arrived at the ticket counter with my suitcase, my laptop case and my worm bucket.  (What? Doesn’t everyone carry around a worm bucket?).  The agent that checked me in asked what was in the bucket.  I told him, “Composting worms.”

“You’re not going to be able to fly with those.” He said.

“Well, I’m prepared for that, but can you tell me why?”

“Health concerns.” He said.

Of course, you and I know that that is ridiculous.  There are no health concerns surrounding composting worms.  They don’t even smell bad!

I didn’t argue with him.  He didn’t take my worms, so I just took them and kept going. I went through security with no problem or comment from anyone.  The worms seemed none the worse for wear from the x-ray.  I tried to stay away from the area directly surrounding my gate just in case the ticket agent had sent some kind of message to the gate warning them of my clandestine worms.

I was the first one to board.  I slipped my worm bucket into the overhead bin and sat down, looking innocent.  No one said anything to me at all.  My worms safely made it to Salem, where they are composting today.

It’s a Wormtastrophe! How I overheated my worm bin and killed my worms

How I cut my worm population in half in just two days.

It's a wormtastrophe!

I have a fungus problem.  My town community garden plot apparently has fungus.  Sadly, that is exactly where I planted all of the tomato plants this spring.  (I didn’t realize the fungus issue before I planted, now it’s too late.)  I was researching how to try to eliminate the fungus and I came across the fact that worm tea is anti fungal.

Great!  I have my little worm army always working to make me worm castings!

I figured that it is going to take a ton of worm tea to eliminate this fungus problem, so I decided to be more aggressive with feeding so that my worms would be more aggressive about making baby worms, so that I would end up with more worm castings.

At the same time, last weekend I made a couple of Starbucks runs since I was trying to build up the compost pile over at the school community garden.  I had a wealth of coffee grounds.  Worms love coffee grounds. Match made in heaven, right?

As it turns out, the phrase “All things in moderation” applies here as well.

I filled two trays of my worm bin with a rather large quantity of coffee grounds.  I knew the coffee grounds really heat up a compost pile, but I didn’t stop to consider that it would do the same thing to my worm box.  When I checked on my little worm friends last night, it felt like my bin was on fire.  I immediately started scooping out as much of the coffee as I could get my hands on.  The worms in the trays with the coffee had fled to the sides of the trays.  They were crawling up the side to escape the intense heat.  When I picked up the bottom tray to look at the catch tray underneath, it looked like the lifeboat departing the Titanic (if that lifeboat were filled with worms).

I removed as many of the coffee grounds as I could, I added shredded newspaper to the top bin and I placed a few ice cubes around the hot trays so as to attempt to bring down the temperature.  I can’t believe I did that!  No telling how many worms I lost.  Just when I need to ramp up production of worm castings, I’ve killed who knows how much of my stock.

I feel horrible!

I went out again this morning and the top bin is still warmer than I would like.  There are still worms up around the edge so they don’t feel it’s cool enough to re-enter the bin.

I’ll keep you updated.

Why I Love Worm Composting

Why I love my worm box!

I love my worms.

I keep a worm box.  I realize that this is not something that everyone does.  There are three reasons why I love my worms, and worm composting.

1) Less Garbage. Using my worms for composting means that I get to use a lot of what would normally go in the trash.  Potato peels, apple cores, banana peels, egg shells, used tea bags, carrot tops and many other things go right into my worm box.

2) Less Money: Using what I would normally throw away also means that my gardening endeavors cost me less money.  It seems like there is always some gardening doo dad I “need”.  If I’m not producing what I need to  put on my garden, it means I have to buy it.  I use my worms to use my garbage to make what my garden needs.

3) Worm Tea.  I love the organic liquid fertilizer I brew from the worm castings produced by my worms.  Worm tea will not burn your plants.  It is a natural fungicide. Worm tea repels aphids, spider mites, scale and white flies.

Worm tea is really a miracle product for your garden.  It is a living thing.  If you don’t believe me, make some up and try it on  your plants.  It’s simply unbelievable.  Don’t believe me? Get ahold of me and try it yourself.

4) Shock Factor.  I must admit that I love the shock factor of having worms.  The little girl who lives across the street witnessed me messing with my worms and said, “My mom would NEVER have worms in the house”.  Even my kids don’t like to look at my worms and refuse to handle them.  Of course, I’m an odd sort of mom anyway.  My birthday list this year included a wheelbarrow.