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.

Comments

  1. I would suggest wetting the bin pretty well and leaving the lid off. The condensation will help cool the bin. I would also make a retreat in on corner of wet newspaper and peat moss so they have a cool spot to go if needed. Scary!

    • Thank you so much for the suggestions. I did pull all of the hot stuff over to one side and put just wet newspaper on the other side. It was just CRAZY hot hot the bin was. I’ll wet it down tomorrow. That’s a good idea.

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