Arizona summer worm plans-will this work?

tracydr(9b)March 13, 2010

I need to figure out what to do for the summer. My worms will never survive in their worm bin and I have no place to put it. My garage gets well over 100 degrees. Here's my thoughts. If I dump my worm bin in my garden so that the worms can get into the cooler garden soil they should survive.

At the same time, I will keep a handful or two in a small bin, bedded in shredded paper. Feed only non-stinky foods like coffee grinds and corn meal. Over the summer they can start reproducing and by the fall I should have a new batch to start another good sized worm compost bin.

Do you think this will work? Maybe save about 2 ounces or so? How many ounces will I have in 4 months with this plan?

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plumiebear(z9? CA)

Although I live in temperate SF Bay area, there are at least 2 worm sellers nearby (Antioch & San Jose) who successfully raise worms in garages that reach over 100F in the summer. Basically the bedding insulates the worms from the high air temps. It depends a little on the type of worm bin you have. In general a well-established bin with substantial bulk should work fine in high air temps. You just need to make sure absolutely no sunlight hits the bin.

An in-ground wormery (see link below) will also work. Simply dumping the worms in the soil won't work as well. The worms need organic matter & the accompanying ecosystem of microbes to feed off and plain garden soil may not have enough of that. You will want to consider protection against rodents or other predators (mostly birds). Again, it's probably best to position the wormery out of direct sun.

One idea I've been considering is embedding an 18 gal. tote in the ground. I was going to drill extra holes in the bottom for drainage. Of course this works if your soil has good drainage.

Good luck.


Here is a link that might be useful: in-ground wormery

    Bookmark   March 13, 2010 at 6:34PM
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You Might be able to save some worms but instead I would do this. Find some shade, preferably all day shade. Then get a deep plastic container and bury it all most all the way up to the lid. Drill some holes in the lid and in the bottom of the bin if your bad about having too much moisture in the bin. Then lay about 4 or 5 layers of cardboard around the bin to insulate the soil. Keep the soil moist under the cardboard if that is possible. I think this would work to keep the bin cool enough for the worms to survive, if not flourish. Steve

    Bookmark   March 13, 2010 at 6:37PM
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lostmarbles18(8 southern Az)

Any of the above ideas should work. Sounds like you are in the Phoenix or Tucson area, I am down in Cochise County and kept my worms in 18 gal totes all summer last year with no problems. Worms are pretty durable.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2010 at 9:15PM
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Tracy .... That in-ground wormery looks great, but if you don't have time to do that or the other ideas, may I suggest that you make up your small bin, which I assume you will keep inside the cooler house.... and put an ad on craigslist and either sell or give away the extra worms.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2010 at 9:17PM
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I'm in Phoenix. It's good to know that someone in Cochise county was able to keep them in 18 gallon totes last summer. that's all I need to know. I already have them in two 18 gallon totes, although I'm going to change them to a bit different containers with flow through levels. The in-ground is a great idea but actually won't work because we have flood irrigation. They would be completely flooded out and I would be putting them in harm's way.
Garage would be a torture chamber too. Probably gets into the 130s as it's not well insulated in there.
I think I'll just harvest the compost that I have since I need to use it for my tomatoes. Change them out to the biggest containers that I can find. Perhaps even bigger then 18 gallons. Give them plenty of air holes and feed very lightly during the hot months when they are roasting. Any other suggestions to improve survival rates? They did great all winter and are really waking up now.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 6:00PM
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You could put in frozen water bottles wrapped in layers of newspaper to reduce the temp. in the bins.
That worked well for me last summer.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 9:33PM
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IMHO a tote with adequate ventilation would be preferred over a flow-thru if over-heating was an issue. Flow-thru systems have a tendency to be much drier than totes, and I would think dry heat would be harder on worms.
It may be time to consider a bigger system. Although your concern is to keep the worms you have now alive, worms do much better in bigger systems (in fact, the bigger, the better). A bigger system allows you to insulate from excessive heat with light, fluffy bedding like straw and overfeeding is no longer a problem, they simply move to an area they are comfortable in.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2010 at 7:53AM
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My worms got through the Australian summer just fine, I put some carpet underfelt on top of the open bin and kept it damp, evaporation then kept the bins cool.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2010 at 1:59PM
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I live in the Queen Creek area and started a new garden 1 year ago. I use all organic ammedments and do "in row" composting and yet I have no worms. I tried adding a container of fishing worms that I bought at the WalMart but they soon left even though I had plenty of "food" for them. Help! What am I doing wrong?

    Bookmark   December 14, 2010 at 12:34PM
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You probably got NightCrawlers - they like to do a runner.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2010 at 12:27PM
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