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Can Red Wigglers Survive Winter

author
Brent Mccoy
• Thursday, 29 October, 2020
• 7 min read

The short days and long, cold nights of winter present a very real threat to your treasured worms. Alas, the inhospitable temperatures of winter can wipe out your entire worm population with one hard freeze.

worms worm wigglers composting pool inside human morris factory cluster committing suicide virginia wiggler yard bins 1000 helpful tips newport
(Source: www.ecokarma.net)

Contents

With some preparation and attention to detail, you can help your worms withstand the winter cold and remain productive through it all, as they continue to compost your table scraps. In the artificial environment you create in your bin, temperature is the main thing that determines the ultimate productivity of your worms.

When given a choice to set your home thermostat to balmy or brisk, there’s generally a sweet spot in the middle for each of us. This guide will assist you as you monitor and adjust the conditions in your bin this winter, and all year long.

Within this range, you can expect your worms to consume and cast off at least half of their body weight in food each day. Within this temperature range, composting worms will exhibit sluggish eating, mating, and reconstituting of your kitchen scraps.

Low temperatures render red wigglers nearly dormant, and relentless cold drastically decreases decomposition of organic matter resulting in a scarcity of easily consumable worm food. If the temperature within the bin plummets below 32 degrees, our beloved worms, being made of nearly 90 percent water, just can ’t hack it.

This winter you may have to McGovern your situation and use any combination of resources to ensure your worms keep up their hot-n-heavy routine. The options below offer you a few ideas for creating a maximal level of protection using minimal time, effort, or materials.

worms wigglers nightcrawlers african european wiggler worm buildasoil
(Source: buildasoil.com)

Sharing your heated, insulated home is a very easy solution that requires only a bit of space for your worm bin. The red wigglers will gladly help eliminate table scraps and provide some free entertainment for the kids in exchange for their comfort through the jarring winter.

If the house isn’t an option, moving the bin to a shed or garage may be the next best thing for worm farmers willing to make an extra effort to the maintenance of their winter vermicompost. However, an uninsulated set of walls on a cement slab will still have an air temperature that falls below safe levels for our revered red wigglers.

If you choose to relocate your worms to a room with a cement foundation, elevate the bin off the ground to allow warmer air to circulate beneath to prevent frozen substrate. With a bit of planning, elbow grease, and creativity you can set up your worms with an underground bunker to withstand whatever winter throws their way.

Submerge the bin and insulate any gaps with dry leaves, straw, Styrofoam, or other material that won’t become waterlogged. Some of our more risk-taking vermicomposters may choose to take their chances by allowing their worms to remain outside during the long winter months.

Covering the bed with heavy clear plastic will mimic a greenhouse, offer moisture protection, and contain any residual heat. Another important step to ensure the winter survival of your composting worms is to make sure to provide adequate food and quality bedding.

composting winter vermiculture vegetables fruit compost urban bucket
(Source: pecemele.wordpress.com)

Provide a high quality bedding to supply moisture, a food source, and a dark place to keep busy. Too much water in the bedding fills in the tiny air pockets they rely on for oxygen beneath the surface.

If you follow our suggestions you will create a winter haven for your redwigglers, so they will stay happy in their home, a valuable source of nutrient rich compost come spring! Now that you have your red wiggler survival guide for the winter, it’s time for you to take action and protect them from the cold.

We will send you just one email per month, providing free tips, tricks, and how-tos that will help you on your journey to becoming an expert worm farmer. Composting worms are the engine that drives the nutrient cycle in my garden.

I do a number of things that may help red wiggler cocoons over winter in my garden. I continue to add free and local resources to the mulch layer and compost areas.

Red wigglers are surface feeders and the mulch I provide gives them a constant source of food. In the fall I add surplus autumn leaves and brewing waste to this corner.

worm composting worms night crawlers farm mix jim uncle fishing european unclejimswormfarm wigglers compost bait 1000 into super wiggler fish
(Source: unclejimswormfarm.com)

When I create my hot compost I remove the bulk of leaf mold and cider waste to help inoculate the pile. I always however leave a layer ensuring my slow compost has red wigglers and their cocoons come spring.

The pile does take some time to heat up and as it does the red wigglers migrate out into the surrounding garden or edges of the compost where the temperatures are nicer. It is important to make my compost piles and mulch the garden early enough in the fall for the worms to still be active.

Although many red wigglers and their cocoons may die over the winter a large number must survive in my garden to maintain a healthy population. Paired with the high reproductive rate that can see red wiggler populations double in as little as 30 days these methods seem to be effective at allowing me to over winterredwigglers in my garden.

However, if it works for me there is a chance that with a small addition of composition worms you too can enjoy the benefits of having red wigglers in your garden. The best part of all is this is it does not cost me anything as I got the worm castings from my brother and the composts are made with free and local resources.

Red Wiggler Facts Cold Hardiness of Worm Cocoons Insulation properties of soil Composting with red wiggler worms during warm temperatures can still be tolerable for them.

carrot fly root foliage carrots eggs cycle wigglers wednesday infected winter through
(Source: greensideup.ie)

Is insulating your worm bin something that you can carry out effectively during much colder temperatures? Winter vermicomposting is doable, just as long as you know how to give extra care for your red wigglers needs.

Of course, you wouldn’t want to have an inactive worm bin at these times; and start losing all those organic fertilizers that you can make good use of for your garden. Tip 1: One way of maintaining your red worms bin from turning into a popsicle is to keep the same warm conditions inside and outside their habitat.

So, if their condition is something that hinders them from performing their composting activities well, then there will be worm bin inactivity (there will be a tendency for them to move and process slower, or to hibernate for them to save their energy). Tip 3: It’ll also be best to feed your red wigglers food scraps that are in smaller doses, or in their blended forms already.

But do make sure to protect your bin with a plastic material, so that any water substance is prevented from entering the container. You may also put in dry leaves, straw or grass on top of the bin, to add more heat.

If you’re thinking about recycling your food scraps from the kitchen, then the Worm Café Composter is just the perfect solution for you! I've read that an active compost pile can have a temp of 125 degrees Fahrenheit.

worm bin root simple maintaining rootsimple
(Source: www.rootsimple.com)

I assume that worms will move out of my compost material when it gets that hot but what happens in the winter when it gets near zero? It is an anaerobic method, meaning you can use an airtight container.

After the Takashi compost bucket is full, either bury the pickled waste in your garden or feed a little at a time to your worms. B) the second method if you really want to have an active pile is to wait until the hot composting process is complete.

I have a compost pile that has yard waste and horse manure (worms delicacy) right now that is 154 °F (68 °C). Let the “hot” process complete, then add the ingredients to your worm bin.

Horses only digest about 1/4 of what they eat so many weed seeds escape. * if you'd rather only use worms, you will need to build a compost pit (which you can insulate with straw in the winter) or you will need to put together a bin for them (wood ones are better than plastic because the aeration provided).

This might be an off-topic answer since it doesn't involve wintering directly in your heap, but you can keep worms in a large rubber made container in your (new) garage, feed them some stuff you'd put in your compost pile (cantaloupes perhaps). I dug a hole 24 inches deep, maybe 3 foot square.

bin diy vermicompost worm wood bed worms build twig furniture rabbit own hutch texas jumpers photo4
(Source: texasredworms.com)

This spring... Not a lot of worms, don't know if the froze or dried out. Or just left. In the fall, I gather materials so that I can be ready for planting in late winter when the ground is still frozen.

One of the required materials is composted horse manure, so I fill up a couple of 5 gallon buckets with the oldest stuff (sifted) from the manure pile and keep the buckets in a warm part of the garage (stays at least 50-60F). When it comes time to start mixing potting soil in late winter, the compost buckets always have tons of worms.

Winter temps in Feb are -10 Celsius in the day and as low as -20 Celsius at night. Last winter I placed a seed warming mat in the middle of the pile, and it was able to keep the worms very alive.

The warmth also attracted a small family of rats; which then ate most of the worms. So I was successfully able to keep 3 or 4 pounds of worms alive in Toronto, Canada over the winter with 17W of heating; and also converted it into about 1 lb of healthy rats.

I think that at this point; I have placed enough native worms into the pile, that the general biomass will survive a winter.

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