Saturday, August 19, 2006

What I Do When It's Too Hot!

Well, since that last notification of a posting to my blog was bogus I figured I had better sit down and have a little chat with you all, and since it has been hot, hot, hot here all summer long I guess it would be good to share with you what I do with the worm bins when it is hot.

Hot and dry will kill the worms way before cold and wet will. And since by the very nature of composting you are creating heat you need to use a great deal of caution when the ambient temperature raises to the point it's uncomfortable for the average human. Granted some of us "like it hot", I'm not one of them and neither are the worms.

Once the bin temperatures get into the nineties you need to start frettin' about losing worms. I usually know I have lost worm mass when my "tea" buckets fill up almost over night. Worms contain a lot of moisture and when they die from over-heating that moisture is released and ends up in my tea buckets. Boo Hoo!

One of the best ways to keep your bins cool when the temperature raises is to set up a fan to blow over the surface of the bedding. You will need to be adding moisture as the fan will cause evaporation, which will cool the bin but will also leave the surface of the bedding dry. This is where the worms want to be, but not if it is too dry.

Another way to help keep the bins cool is to control the amount of composting going on in the bin. To do this you watch what you are adding for bedding material, don't mix it up. Whatever your main source of bedding material is, for instance I use manure, that's all you want to be adding. And you want to make sure the worms have worked it up real good before you turn it. This can leave your worms wanting for food so, I use worm chow.

It's made by Purina and is very finely milled for the worms to eat. I can sprinkle it on top of the worm bin and the worms come up and eat it at night. The food is immediately available and does not have to compost for the worms to eat it.

I use an old flour sifter to sprinkle the food on top of the worm bin. This gives me an even spread over the surface of the worm bin.

The worm chow comes in a 40 lb. bag and one bag fits perfect in a tote to keep the mice out.

Another thing I have noticed when it's hot, the worms seem to like it better with the screen off. The screen restricts airflow, even just a bit, and the worms notice. I haven't had a problem with leaving the screen off in the summer. Come fall I will be putting them back on to keep the mice out of the bins.

So, that's what I do when it's hot. Sometimes instead of using manure in the hot months I will stick with shredded newpaper. And that's all I use for bedding is layers of shredded newspaper on top of the bedding. Or maybe I'll just use leaves. The main thing is just not to mix it up. If you mix it up you're gonna compost and add heat to a system that is already stressed by the heat of the day.

No comments: