Heat is coming

BryanBalt(7a)June 24, 2013

So it are looking like we'll have some hotter temps here in MD over the next few days, four straight days of @ 90 degree weather. I am going to put the temp reader back in the bin when I get home, but I have been below 85 degrees since I started.

The worms have been fine, only climbing the walls a little, and they are doing great work with material.

Should I be concerned with the temps, or will a wait and see approach work? I have some small ice packs that I can rotate in and out of the bin in the mornings and at night.

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Don't worry man your worms will do fine. They are alot more heat tolerant than we give them credit for. Just pile on a couple extra layers of moist bedding, and refrain from feeding until the heat wave is up. The ice pack will make a great addition as well.

Good Luck,


    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 2:18PM
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So they ran up the sides en masse, temp in the bin was 100 degrees when I got home from work last night. Put three packs in and it was 85 when I woke up this morning and everyone was tucked back in to the bedding.

Rotated another pack in at noon today, going to do again at 5 PM. Heat is supposed to back off tomorrow.

Broke the news to the wife that the worms may have to be moved from the back porch to the basement. She was not happy, but I just told her to trust me.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 12:43PM
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Worms won't survive 100f in the bins. If you move them to the basement, they will stay in the bins as long as you keep them happy.

Those bins are a resort.....not a prison.


    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 6:00PM
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Glad to hear it. Sounds like you've got a grip on the situation. I'm in zone 7 as well, just to the south of you in VA, so I've been dealing with the same thing. My in-ground system keeps the temps pretty low though. Just tell the misses that she'll thank you when her garden resembles The Amazon.


    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 6:06PM
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The bin has been holding at 85 or so for the past two days. I did find some BSFL in there last night when I was checking the health and adding food, so the move to the basement is on hold. I can get my wife to handle the idea of worms in the basement, and I can assure her that I have ways to control the fruit flies that have come and gone, but I don't think she'll go for larvae (maggots) and larger flies.

I have an area in my side yard that is shaded all day, so I am going to move the bin to that area and also start a new indoor bin with some of the worms from my existing outside bin. I'll be sorting them out by hand to try and remove the BSFL.


    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 2:26PM
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A shaded side yard sounds ideal. Learn to manage that and you should be fine, but " I just told her to trust me" or " I can assure her that I have ways to control the fruit flies that have come and gone" are non-starters. Never, ever promise your wife that things are gonna be fine. Worms, maggots, fruit flies, fungus gnats, as well as all their friends have ways of surprising you in the worst possible way and at the least desirable times. You might as well just go buy yourself a doghouse, 'cause you're gonna be living in it.


    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 3:32AM
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""You might as well just go buy yourself a doghouse,"" or if you are the handy kind of guy: build one yourself, hehe.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 12:50PM
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How big is your bin? If you're going to move it outside, then you're only a shovel and some elbow grease away from having the luxury of an in-ground system. Your bin temp will be much more sustainable and self-sufficient (my bin didn't clear 80 degrees this week), and the same goes for moisture.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 9:23PM
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I've noticed in the last couple of years that hardly anyone keeps worm bins in the house anymore. Back then, it was common for wormers to have low profile plastic shoe storage type containers that slide under the bed.

That, my friends, is worming.


    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 9:56PM
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Duplicate postings are totally unnecessary, and the inability to delete them is completely ridiculous.

This post was edited by chuckiebtoo on Sat, Jun 29, 13 at 22:03

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 9:58PM
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I do have that side yard, there is enough room for the bin to go into the ground, and I have no problems digging (I just turned a full-sun area next to the house into the "side garden" by digging all the grass/weeds out and mixing in leaf and manure compost. There are now 5 Brandywines and 6 bush pickles growing there).

The bin is a 14 gallon green rough neck with around 20 or so holes drilled 50% up the sides. I have two drainage holes in one end, so I can tip up the other end and leachate can run out if need be.

Think I'll need additional holes for self draining? Any other holes in the sides? Should I lose my mind and purchase 6 more bins and place them strategically throughout the house and yard?

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 10:24PM
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First off, I'm way jealous of your mini veggie-garden. I started late this year and didn't make the cutoff for tomatoes and peppers. Guess there's always next year. Second, your container sounds perfect. Great size for a starter bin. The only thing that concerns me a little is the 20 side holes. Are they large enough for your worms to crawl through? Once you get your bin going, your worms won't be going anywhere, but for the first week or two it can be a little touch-and-go, so the chances of vermicular exodus are a little higher. Regardless, I seriously doubt you'll lose enough worms to hurt you, and when your bin gets going, so does worm sex drive. You'll be back to full capacity in no time flat.

For drainage, just cut the bottom out. The entire bottom. If it's soft plastic like I have on my Rubbermaid Roughneck, then a utility knife will run through it like butter. Now here's the trick, you leave about a 1/2" lip of plastic around the bottom so that you can shape a piece of heavy duty cardboard and set it on the lip like a false bottom. Works like a friggin charm. It'll keep your worms and bedding in, soak up and release excess moisture (to include leachate), and keep everything else out. It's also much better for air flow and breathability than the plastic. If you're nervous about the weight of your bedding, you can stack a couple pieces in the bottom. FYI, I have an 18-gallon bin, I used one piece of mildly flimsy cardboard, and I haven't had any problems. The ground is directly under the carboard supporting the weight, so the carboard really just acts as a barrier.

Lastly, I would drill some holes in the lid for oxygen and air exchange. The holes will also allow the worms to detect changes in air pressure when it rains. This change attracts them to the surface and they just love sitting on the surface during and after a good soaking. I've also found that the worms become wildly active, both in feeding and copulation, after a rain. Needless to say, the holes will let in rain water. Not too much, but just enough, in little 1/4" droplets, assuming you use a 1/4" bit for the holes, which I recommend. An 1/8" bit will also work, though a little less effectively. In this way, depending on how much rain your area gets, mother nature will regulate the majority of your bin moisture. I have roughly 20-30 holes spread evenly across my lid, and aside from soaking the bedding while assembling the bin, I've only once had to moisten the bed manually.

A few more tips:

1. BURIAL. Just bury the bin up to its neck, firmly, to hold it in place. Don't pack the dirt in too tight around it though, because it can put pressure on the sides of the bin and warp it's shape. I'm sure the worms could care less, but less warping mean more room for them to expand.

2. BURY YOUR SCRAPS. I'm in zone 7, and here in zone 7 we have ants. Ants friggin everywhere. The only true methods for ant prevention are to maintain good bin moisture, and to bury your scraps under a solid layer of moist bedding. Don't worry, the worms never miss out on a free meal. They'll get to it.

I also add a layer of moist bedding with pretty much every feeding, and I place a piece of moist cardboard over top of the bedding to help retain moisture. Not to mention, the worms just love sticking to the underside of the carboard during and after a drizzle.

3. COVERING. I believe one of the best things you can do is put a thin covering over your lid. Personally, I use black landscaping fabric. Works like a charm to keep small flies, insects, everything out except for air and rain. Now hypothetically, if you didn't use it, proper bin moisture and food burial is enough to keep out most intruders. And even if you got a few in there, it wouldn't be the end of the world. But as cheap as landscaping fabric is, why not use it? And if for some crazy reason you can't locate landscaper's fabric, any breathable mesh-like fabric should do. I just stretch the fabric over top of my lid and hold each side down with a brick.

And that's about it. You'll find that the earth is an excellent insulator. More often than not, it keeps the bin at least 10 degrees lower than the ambient temperature. As large as your space sounds, if I were you, I'd go NUTS. Get several different bins. Experiment with layers (compost, hay, peat, newspaper, etc). See which set-up works best. As for me, at the rate my worms are expanding, I'm gonna need a second bin sooner than later. So as soon as I can secure a source for more food scraps, I'm going for it. I hope this info helps, and let me know if you have any other questions.

Good luck,


    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 10:10PM
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Thanks for all of the input, the side yard, unburied is where it sits now, hovering around 80-85. I checked them last night and they look good, extremely active and last weeks feeding seems to be gone. When I get home today I'll be feeding them again and seeing if temps rise with the new thawed food (I needed the room). Once we get the higher heat levels, I'll probably end up burying it and also splitting some of them off for an indoor bin.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2013 at 9:02AM
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