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Help Your Composting Worms Keep Their Cool in the Hot Summer

outdoor composting binIn the summertime, things start heating up in your outdoor worm composting bin. Unfortunately, if the bin temperature gets too high, the composting worms will overheat, dry out and die. There are many things you can do to keep your worm population cool enough to survive.

Placing the worm bin in the right location is the most important way to control the internal temperature. Exposure to the sun heats the bin up more quickly than you might think. So keeping your bin out of the sun will keep the temperature down.

Pick a spot that is shady for the entire day. Try placing it under an awning or shed roof, under a shady tree or next to tall bushes. Just don’t place it right up against the house, or local vermin might get the wrong idea and start muscling in on your home. Depending on the type of bin, you may need to provide shelter from the rain. Certain types of bin take on too much water. This drowns the worms and makes the bin moldy.

A dried-out worm bin is a sign of overheating – and it can quickly kill off the worms. Keeping the moisture level up is crucial in the hot summer months. If your composter has a lid, keep it on. The bedding should feel like a wrung-out sponge when you squeeze it. If it seems dry, spray a little water on top, but don’t flood it or your worms will be gasping for air. In the hot months, a burlap sack, landscaping cloth, or a sheet of moist newspapers can be placed on top of the bedding to reduce evaporation.

Extra bedding helps regulate bin temperature. The colder temperatures at night will last longer, reducing the risk of mid-day overheating. More bedding lets the worms dig deeper, away from the hotter top of the bin. Limit the amount of worm castings you harvest, or add more bedding (such as coconut coir, pure peat moss or shredded paper). If you have a tray-based worm composting system, such as the Worm Factory 360, use fewer trays and let the bedding accumulate.

The worms may decide that conditions are perfect for reproduction. Suddenly, you may see tiny brown specks – these are eggs. Soon afterward, hundreds or thousands of little baby worms appear. You can let the population control itself, or you can remove some of them. Release some into the yard, give them to friends, or start a new bin.

bricks on a composter lidUnwanted creatures might show up in your bin, especially when it’s warm. If you see sprouts, pull them out. If ants set up a nursery, take the lid off and they will move it. Discourage bugs by cutting up scraps, burying food, and keeping the lid on. Don’t worry too much if you see some bugs in there, because they help break down the scraps. Read this article if millipedes, centipedes or mites show up. If raccoons make nocturnal visits, try using a bungee cord or bricks to keep the lid on.

If you get desperate, freeze the scraps in a small amount of water. At feeding time, place the scrap-sicle a hole in the center of the bin, covered in bedding. This will slowly cool off the worm bin as it melts, and leave scraps for the worm to enjoy later.

Keeping your worm bin happy and healthy in the summer months is mostly common sense. Protect the worm bin from the heat of the sun, and reduce evaporation by keeping the lid on. Any more that you do for your bin is a bonus. A productive worm bin will quickly break down kitchen and gardening scraps. This reduces trash problems. The resulting finished compost makes perfect fertilizer for your garden. A little protection goes as long way toward successful summer composting.

Need more worms? Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm recommends Red Wiggler Mix for composting, and Super Reds for composting or releasing into the garden. We are the #1 supplier of composting worms in the USA.

10 comments on “Help Your Composting Worms Keep Their Cool in the Hot Summer

  • grandpa Indy says:

    a few years ago , I bought composter bin ,but I did not try yet.
    I want to see the person using that .
    if you know any person using 5 floor compost bin ,introduce me .

    I am living
    11104 kensington Ave. Kansas city ,MO 64137

    Reply
  • Walter White says:

    I have found twice now that my baby worms are at the top of the Compost bin. There are vents in the bin and I add water once and a while. This started before the hot weather

    Do they not like their new home? I have had the bin for about 10 years, but just got new worms from you.

    Thank you, Walter.

    Reply
  • Thomas nichols says:

    I am just getting started with worms, but wish that I had started years ago. I a disabled COAL MINERS here in WEST VIRGINIA.IT GIVES SOMETHING TO DO!!!

    Reply
  • john keenan says:

    Think i made a mistake..unloaded your worms into my vegie garden,and i don’t want to dig around and try to find them in the event i would bother what their are doing. have it in an 4 by 8 raised bed am doing scraps and corn meal. but my interest in where they are is huge. the other thing you said regs travel in groups..any comments

    Reply
  • Robert McCall says:

    Got started vermicomposting about 5 months ago and it finally got hot in El Paso Tx 102 degrees. Built my worm bin myself out of plywood and 2x4s. It is 6′ x3′ and 2′ deep I have two compartments separated by expanded metal, so when one gets full I will stop feeding the full end and feed the other end. I started out with about 500 worms and worms are booming. In order to keep them cool I freeze 1 liter coke bottles and place them inside the bins and pile leaves on top of the bottles and my worms are happy. Change the bottles out every day. I also use dry leaves for the top of the pile and my bin is in a shady area. I don’t need to add water but once a week. Just remember to keep them cool. (Happy worming)………

    Reply
  • As mentioned in the article Scrap-sicle is very good.
    Use a food processor to shred or puree them and freeze your scraps in an ice cube tray.
    It’s a very good advice and you wont get any fruit flies with previously frozen scraps.

    Reply
  • Uncle Jim,

    I just wanted to give a progress report on my order that I received from you back in March of this year.
    I have a flow-through bin that I constructed out of plywood (4ft x 2ft x 2ft). I live in the Central Valley in California with normal triple digit temps from June through September. I know that it’s only July but I am happy to report that the worms are thriving. I keep the box in my garage and I throw 2 ice packs on every 3 days with about a gallon of water as well. I have lowered their food consumption to about 1/3 comparatively speaking to the Spring.
    I ordered the special you had going on in the Spring for I believe 1000 Reds with 250 Supers, and they have far exceeded my expectations.
    Just wanted to write this to encourage those subscribers who might be on the fence about jumping into this due to their hot geographical area. I am living proof that this little guys are resilient to say the least.
    Disclaimer: I did see a significant drop in numbers during the first few weeks of 100+ weather, but since the initial “heat shock”, I have seen a strong resurgence in the population.
    -Seth

    Reply
  • Deb Lander says:

    I just consolidated two bins so I could use the third container for non-worm-friendly scraps like citrus rinds, onion, garlic, hot peppers. I guess the little extra volume turned my bin into hot compost. I think I caught it in time, and buried two ice blocks (think tall yogurt containers) right in the middle where the heat is radiating from. There are a crazy amount of worms in there, so I hope this saves them. BTW, I never dreamed I’d willingly try to cool hot compost, but…

    I read the comments above about the frozen liter coke bottles and will have some on hand in case this “experiment” doesn’t cut it.

    Criminy, I feel like a worm assassin! ='(

    Reply

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