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Keeping Worm Composting Bins Cool in the Summer

Worm Composting Bin in the SummerIf you are feeling hot in the summer, so are your composting worms! Unless they are snuggled indoors in air conditioning, your wiggly composting helpers need help staying cool. A few precautions will keep your worms operational. What natural cooling techniques do worms have? Where should your worm bin go? When should you intervene? What’s the worst that can happen?

Natural Worm Cooling

Worm in the wild knows what to do when they feel too hot. They dig down deeper in the earth or bedding (such as manure or rotting vegetation). This moves them away from the hot sun, sultry air, and warm surface.

Worms do not have sweat glands. They cannot pant to cool off. These simple critters are some of the oldest on earth. Worms are somewhat at the mercy of their environment.

When you harness the power of worms for composting, you create a partly artificial environment. The bedding you provide gives them room, food, and moisture. Bedding needs to be a bit fluffy so they can breathe through their skins. Confined in a box or bin, worms cannot move somewhere else. Therefore, you need to help your composting worms to keep them cool.

Composting Bin Design for Cooling

The vermicomposting bin itself should have features that help keep the worms cool.

  • A lid keeps the sun off and moisture in. Keep the lid on.
  • Proper drainage holes help regulate moisture. If the bin gets too wet, the extra water can drain instead of drowning the worms. Some bins have a water collection area and a spigot.
  • Sufficient ventilation helps prevent too much hot air from accumulating in the bin. Make sure the bin has air holes.
  • Place a special worm bin blanket or newspaper soaked in water on top of the bedding. This helps retain moisture.

Where to Place Your Worm Bin

Your vermicomposting bin needs to be placed out of the sun in the summer. Sunlight raises the worm bin temperature significantly in hot weather. Place your bin in the shade. Under an awning, under trees or bushes, in the shadow of a building, or in an outbuilding are good locations.

Moisture for Keeping Cool

Your worm bin is getting some moisture from food. The kitchen scraps you place in the bin often have a high water content. Sloppy melons and juicy vegetables are especially high in moisture. However, evaporation during hot weather means your bin might not get enough moisture.

Worm bin bedding should have the consistency of a wrung-out sponge. If your bin is too dry,  pour some water on top of the bin. Dechlorinate the water first, if possible, by leaving it out overnight. A clean watering can makes this process easy. Be careful! Too much water all at once could drown your worms! Pour, let soak in, and test the moisture level again.

Want to give your worms a treat? Add ice. Place plain ice on top of the bedding or buried in the center of the bin. You can cool and feed the worms all at once by freezing scraps and water together. Place kitchen scraps in a plastic container, add water, and freeze solid. Bury it in the middle of the worm bin. As the ice melts, the scraps defrost, providing a meal for the worms.

Worst Case Scenario

What happens if the worms get too hot? They dehydrate, die, and dry up. Finding crispy dead worms in your bin? Try to salvage your worms by providing moisture and reducing heat. Worst case, they may have laid eggs that will hatch when conditions improve.

Have your worms died from heat exhaustion? Interested in starting a worm bin? Order a composting bin and composting worms from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm. We are the #1 supplier of composting worms in the USA. We have Red Worms for composting, and European Night Crawlers (Super Reds) for composting, fishing, and aeration. Also, check out our selection of indoor/outdoor composters.

7 comments on “Keeping Worm Composting Bins Cool in the Summer

  • Thomas Tredo says:

    My 2ooo red wigglers have been in bin with 3 inches of peat moss for 3 months feed regurlywith scrAps &leaves.i noticed small hair sized worms in bin seems to be doing well.my ?is does the peat moss get eaten&become compost or do I have to separate worms from bedding realizing meet moss is also good for garden would it more beinfical to seperate. (It is hard to tell peat from castings being moss is also very dark

    Reply
  • scott adams says:

    I bought my worms about 8 months ago. I don’t find many worms in my bin. The ones I am finding my worms are not moving much ( can worms be described as lethargic) Are they dying because its the end of their life cycle. I have kept my bin covered and out of dierct sun light also I think my moisture content is correct.

    Reply
  • Thank you for this post. I live in central Washington and it can get hot during the summer. Yesterday the high temperature was 102 degrees Fahrenheit. It was too hot for me and if I had worms, I would think that it would be too hot for them. Maybe now, I might venture forth and procure some worms.

    Reply
  • Thanks for this post. I live in a hot place too (Puerto Rico) where winter is actually a better season for worm composting. The information that you provided is getting me to think about worms once again.

    Reply
  • Sarah Hanson says:

    Great and timely advice-I had to move my bin into the garage from the covered porch once the temperatures were constantly over 90. Our soil temps just couldn’t stay out of the red zone. Interesting though, the worms have stratified themselves by size in the bin layers: small/babies on top, medium sizes in the middle, big guys in the bottom tray.

    Reply
  • My Worm Cafe is in my garage in N.C. I have a new home and no trees as of yet to keep them outside. That being said the garage door faces south and gets very hot inside. I keep the door open about 20″ and also treat them each morning and night to frozen water containers. I place them on top of a few sheets of folded newspaper. I found when I just let frozen cubes defrost in the bin it was getting too wet. Although the food I give them is always frozen. I keep a zippy bag in the freezer and add to it during the week and feed them about 1# of food each time.
    In the winter, depending on what the night temperature will be I place towels, a rug, etc over the bin and sometimes leave a few towels on during the day, again depending on the temperature.
    I have had my worms for over a year now and they seem to be doing just fine.

    Reply

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