Garden · Vermicompost

Protect Your Worm Compost Bin from the Cold

It’s going to getting really chilly here in the next week so it’s a good time to start thinking about how to protect our worm friends from the cold. Now, here in Southern Nevada when I say cold I mean it’ll get down around freezing overnight. Yes, it does happen from time to time and it usually only lasts a few days, thankfully. I really don’t miss the crazy cold winters that I grew up with in the upper mid-west. The other day Storyteller was saying she needed a snow suit when we were out running errands in 50 degree weather! We are definitely a southern desert family now. 

I keep my worm bin outside year round. It is doable but we have to take precautions to protect them from the cold winter nights and hot summer days. Worms like the temperature inside their bedding between 40-80 degrees. They process food and reproduce faster when the temperature is near the higher end of that range. Monitor the temperature with a thermometer. This past week we’ve had a few nights down to 40 degrees and the temp inside my worm bin was 50-55 degrees when I measured it first thing in the morning. Here are some ideas for keeping them warm this time of year. If you live in a much colder climate you may need to try all of the options at once and keep a closer eye on them than we do.

Bedding – Add lots of extra bedding. Fill the container completely with bedding to help insulate it. If you have a tray system, add any extra trays you may have and fill them with bedding.

Outer insulation – Surround your bin with insulating materials such as cardboard boxes, Styrofoam, straw bales or bags of leaves. Place the bin on top of cardboard boxes it insulate it from the cold ground.

Cover it – Make sure you have a lid on the bin. Wrap a frost blanket, burlap or other blanket around it. Make sure that air circulation isn’t cut off. Wrapping it tightly in plastic is not a great idea.

Dig a hole – If possible you can sink it down into the ground. That may be difficult in our area because our ground can be hard to dig in. Many people install gardens with a jackhammer here!

Location – Put the bin in the warmest area of your yard and protect it from the wind.

Bring it in – Bring the worms inside. Garages are popular for those who don’t want a worm bin in the house. I kept mine there when I first set it up however I lost all my worms. I believe it was at least partially due to the exhaust from the car. It’s just a theory but just in case keep the bin far from the cars and monitor it closely. A shed is also a great option. We don’t have basements where we live but that would be a great location as well.

Heat source – Use a heat lamp or a seed starting heat mat as a heat source. Be careful that it doesn’t get too hot. It doesn’t really get cold enough here to need a heat source but I’ve seen it recommended for colder climates.

With a little bit of effort and planning ahead we can keep our worm bins outside year round. Some climates focus on just getting them to survive the winter but we can keep them thriving!

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