HINTS FOR WINTER WORM KEEPING

Posted by admin in vermicomposting | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

indoor worm binThere are a few small tasks worm farmers can do to ensure happy and healthy worms over the winter months.  If you have an outdoor composter with red wigglers living in it, there are two options for keeping them alive in the coming cold weather.  Obviously, you can bring them inside and start a vermicomposting bin, see http://www.naturesperfectplantfood.com/2011/11/15/easy-worm-bin-photo-essay/  or you can attempt to over-winter your worms outside.  This is a bit tricky, the first thing to consider is the size of your compost.  Worms can not freeze, your compost needs to be large enough that it won’t freeze straight through during the coldest times.  Most bin designs will not be able to support your worms when the snow flies.  A compost heap is the best bet for keeping worms alive outside till spring.  Feeding the worms extra before the winter is helpful, any kind of composting will generate a certain amount of heat, hopefully preventing a total freeze up by providing a heat generating source however minute.  Red composting worms can actually tolerate quite low temperatures, just above freezing will keep them alive but any further heating is worth going for.  Insulating the heap with a straw or mulch covering is also a good plan.  Be generous with this “blanket” try to make it at least 12 inches deep.  Do not disturb the snow-pack, once the snow begins to pile up just leave it be.  The snow pack provides a good deal of insulation just on its own.  We have over wintered worms here in Winnipeg, but it’s not for the faint of heart and doesn’t always work depending on conditions.  http://www.naturesperfectplantfood.com/2011/05/06/conclusive-proof-worms-survive-winter-in-winnipeg/   A good rule of thumb in this case is bigger is better.  Good luck!

2 Responses to HINTS FOR WINTER WORM KEEPING

  1. Elsabe says:

    I am very glad to find someone trying to keep worms outdoors in a possibly colder climate than ours. We live between Kingston and Toronto in Ontario. We have worms in pipes and I have tried different things over the last few years. Putting straw bales around the pipes and on top, was one way, and this year, I turned water drums over some of the pipes. One pipe is also in a boxed in garden plot that is filled up with leaves. I also saved some worms from one pipe and put it in a bin on a pet warming mat, in the garage. So much fun. Unfortunately there is no way of telling what is going on in the pipes. I have been wondering if you put luke warm water a few times a week down the pipes, if it will keep the compost defrosted and warm enough for the worms to create even more heat.

    • admin says:

      Excellent observations! We haven’t tried the “tube” method ourselves. I would caution against the addition of extra water however. What tends to happen is that it will saturate any protective bedding material then freeze solid rendering the insinuator qualities of the bedding ineffective. Thank you for the comment, perhaps another reader has tried the “tube” method and can chime in?

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