So far only the Manzanitas and Alpine Buttercups are blooming here. Just getting started. But Spring also means warm days with stunning views. The snow has melted down low, and all the trails are starting to become accessible.
A lot of the discussion in this thread centers around efficiency — how much productivity per amount of land or amount of effort. But the history of plows, monoculture, pesticides and fertilizers are all about one thing: consistency. Large scale agriculture is almost entirely about consistency — how can we predict the revenue of sales for a given piece of land/equipment/labor? Plows are a great example of this since they literally make the ground consistent.
If you read One Straw Revolution, you will remember that it took Fukuoka years and years and years to get any kind of productivity before he found a method that resulted in a higher productivity than his neighbors. That is exactly the scenario that large scale agriculture avoids like the plague. Even if the returns on investment over a 10 year period were higher with natural farming techniques, that would be less desirable than a predictable low margin, profitable business every year. Large scale agriculture is about cash flow, and cash flow favors the predictable.
Now here's the twist: those that lived 1,000s of years ago had the same exact motivations as large scale agriculture. It is far more important to feed your family every single year than it is to maximize crop yields per acre over a ten year period. Consistency is an extremely desirable trait in agriculture because humans require a constant source of food to survive. So long as your results are consistent, you can always get more people to farm and produce more food.
To my uneducated eye, the white fungus does appear to be slime mold (dog vomit). It can come in a variety of colors and isn't always yellow.
Personally, I wouldn't worry about it. It looks like you've got a lot of fresh mulch and the fungi are breaking it down, turning it into soil for you. Mushrooms are usually a good sign of healthy soil.
Last fall, I went around and collected a handful of seeds from local perennials — lavender, mountain ash (rowan), elderberry, and non-grafted apples. I put them in some sand and left them in my unheated garage all winter. Some of these enjoy scarification, but since they were so small and I was curious, I did not do any scarification beforehand. A couple of weeks ago I put these sand containers in my germination station to warm up and kept them moist.
So far every single one of the apples has sprouted! I'm not really sure what I will do with all of these. I ended up with around 30 seedlings in total. Some of them are living in my seed starting area (pictured), and some of them are living outside where it is still very much winter. My plan with these seeds was to see how difficult it was to germinate (turns out: not difficult at all), see if I can get some locally adapted rootstock, and give my hand at growing apples from seed with an eye toward animal protection. I did not select any of these for taste, most were crabapples or small, bitter fruits.
The jury's still out on the rest of the seeds… I haven't seen a single one germinate yet.
Best of luck! I struggle with the shade a lot living in a conifer forest, but I'm starting to figure out how to work with it well. One thing I haven't seen you mention is fencing — what's your plan there? Last year I learned that shade tolerant greens might as well be shorthand for bunny food. I didn't manage a single harvest of non-head lettuce or spinach. The rabbits would let them get to about 1" high and mow them down.
I've been quiet all during winter, but the sun is coming out, the snow has melted, and it's time to get back to work. What a weird winter. I haven't made it out to the ranch since the Fall because of it. We had one of the weakest winters on record up until March, and then had more snow fall in a week than we had Nov - Feb combined. Then we had some wet storms, some rain, some more snow. What it's meant is an extremely unstable snowpack. Because of that, I haven't felt comfortable out in the backcountry and have stayed close to town.
Which is good because… I bought a house in town! So me & the girlfriend spent a good chunk of our time moving, patching holes, and other non-permie tasks. This house has a very large heavily forested backyard on a ~15% slope. So now that the snow has been down I've been doing some defensible space / wildland fire protection work. A lot of people get very intimated by this work when they see professionals out there with chainsaws and heavy machinery, but it doesn't have to be so scary. I use my samurai ichiban pruning saw and a good pair of gloves.
The core principle with wildland fire management is to get rid of ladder fuels. Imagine a fire burning along the ground — that's great! It'll burn through quick and be out in less than an hour. What you want to prevent is the ground fire from finding ladders up to the crowns of trees. My strategy is simple:
1. Go through every mature tree and cut down any limb I can reach. For me this is about ~7ft high.
2. Thin the trees to a spacing of 10-20ft.
3. Do something with the brush pile you've created (chip, burn, pile away from crowns)
My city offers free chipping through the fire protection district, so once I'm done cleaning it up I'll call them over and they'll chip it with an industrial chipper for me and I can use it for establishing some blueberries & rhubarb I've got in containers.
1 part peat, 1 part perlite, and 1 part compost the best often used method?
I've used something like this in very rough approximation for years without issue. In fact, I've never had an issue with my seedling mix so I've gotten lazier as time goes on and just mix whatever is handy. Usually some old indoor potting soil (made of coco coir, vermicompost and vermiculite), a bit of vermicompost, and sand as of late. I've also used soil from outside — our soil is very sandy. Pretty much the only thing that seems to matter is that it's well draining and screened to take out the big chunks.
I've been cooking on my No. 10 Field Skillet for over a year, and I can't recommend it enough. The surface is as smooth as my vintage pans (maybe smoother?) but the light weight is an entirely different beast. It is super nice to work with a lighter weight cast iron, and I haven't found any downsides to the reduced mass. I would recommend this pan to absolutely everyone and buy it for people as a present as often as I can.
I also own a Marquette Castings No. 8 skillet and have been cooking on it for a long time. The finish is almost as good as the field skillet, and at least as good as some vintage pieces. But it doesn't live up to the quality of the Field Skillet to me. Still, it belongs in this new generation of smooth-finish-cast-iron.
And of course, I have a half-dozen vintage pans I use now and then too. But these two get the most use from me.
Wacky Springs and Falls do seem to be getting more common as the climate continues to change. For me, I think I've taken this as a sign that I need to invest more time to better understand row covers, poly tunnels, greenhouses and other forms of protection.
The best thing about bare root trees is that you get to start the roots off in a good direction. Don't dig a perfect circle of a hole (make it have a lot of rough edges), and don't be afraid to handle the roots fairly roughly to point them in different directions away from the tree. Beyond that, I think the only suggestion that really makes a huge difference is fencing! That is if you've got deer / voles / bunnies around.
Two weeks should be easy to keep them alive. Heeling them in would be best, but mostly jut don't let the roots dry out.
With an 8b zone, I doubt you'll have many issues with frost heaving. The reason for most footings are to support the weight of a structure, but with 1' high walls, no floors, ceiling, furniture, etc you'll be more than fine. I'd be more concerned about lateral pressure forcing the bricks outward. Something like William mentioned with the rebar should do just fine. Other options might be some kind of lateral strap around the structure (like a cable or steel strap), a thicker wall, or some kind of deadman device.
All in all I wouldn't worry much — this isn't a structure you're gonna sleep in. If it collapses, it's not going to hurt anyone.
I am still experimenting with full-on hugelkultur beds on my piece of land, but in the mean time I have raised beds at other houses. When I moved these beds a few years ago, I dug down beneath them about a foot and piled up a bunch of wet/rotting wood. Then I covered it with the soil from the beds, and it has worked phenomenally in terms of water retention. I was able to grow tomatoes, squash, and peppers in a dry California summer only irrigating about five times during the summer (in comparison, previous years they needed irrigation about every other day). I can't speak to fertility as these beds already had good soil in them.
Similarly, no-till and deep mulching has worked incredibly well for these beds. I really don't do much for them. When I mow the lawn (grass or leaves) I pile it up in a circular cage made up of metal wire. After my last harvest in the fall, I cut down the plants and pile on anything in the cage. My garlic beds that I mulched with about 10" of material in the fall are now broken down to about 1/2" of mulch. Granted, we had a very warm winter, but the pace at which soil life breaks down mulch if left to do it's thing is really astonishing.
Even all those options require someone is debt-free, increasingly a mark of wealth in today's world.
Money is not my limiting factor, but I'm limited all the same. I'm the only child of 4 older parents (divorced & remarried) separated by 300 miles, one of whom has severe arthritis and is the primary caregiver for another who has a severe degenerative neurological disorder, and oh also the caregiver for my ancient grandpa. That means I spend a lot of time helping out my parents, often on a moment's notice. It means a lot of driving and a lot of living with baby boomers who produce incredible quantities of trash, smoke cigarettes, and generally live a lifestyle very different from my goals.
All that is to say I don't think aiming for a specific lifestyle/endpoint is all that it's made up to be. Just try and make the smaller decisions that you can with your current means. Maybe that means is money, maybe it's time, maybe it's freedom from responsibilities. It's easy to watch a YouTube video of someone living a way you imagine would be great and be frustrated at everything in your way. But in my experience each of us have to find our own path.
A larger clove grows a larger head not because of the genetics, but because there is more stored energy. The plant uses that stored energy when first planted to grow a root system. So a larger clove will grow a larger root system in the fall, which makes for a larger plant, which produces more energy to create a larger head throughout the summer.
I'm not sure about transplanting them (I've never transplanted garlic), but I'd think it wouldn't be as good of as option as just weeding and adding some compost to the existing bed. I've always heard garlic likes established roots.
I've been using T5 fixtures (4' long with 2 bulbs) with good success for a while now. Seedlings don't benefit from full-spectrum LED lights as much as mature flowering plants do. If you choose to go down the LED path, one thing to keep in mind with the LED grow lights is the actual wattage coming from the wall is the wattage you should be looking for. The "equivalent wattage" is a made up number. Watts is a measure of energy, and seedlings need energy. You should be looking for around 25-50 Watts per square foot.
Another thing to keep in mind is the containing area where you're growing your seedlings. Are the walls far away? Are the lights close to the seedlings? White/reflective walls that are close to your seedlings can help a lot, maybe even build a box. A good 30-40% of light comes from the edges, not the top.
As someone who lives in a cold-weather, mountainous, pine tree forest, I can sympathize with needing lights to get plants going. Late winter is just far too extreme to get plants started outside here, and the design of my house means I don't have a south facing window with direct sunlight.
I have found starting most perennials from seed to be very difficult, but I'm not sure that has much to do with the seeds or genetics. It's more than I'm new to seeds that require stratification / scarification, and it's a good bit of a learning curve to figure out a successful strategy. To me a lot of this comes down to the path of least resistance and the timeliness required. For example, last year I spent an incredible amount of time researching the plant's needs, collecting hundreds elderberry seeds, cleaning out the fruit, scarifying them with sulfuric acid, cold stratifying them, then trying to start them. None of them sprouted. This year I spent about 5 minutes taking cuttings in the fall, and all but one of them have buds opening up now. I haven't given up on starting some from seed, but it's clearly a no-brainer for me at this point to use cuttings to get more elderberries.
Out of your list, there's a few that I wouldn't hesitate to buy root cuttings / crowns for. Comfrey, Asparagus, Onions, Sunchokes, Horseradish, and Strawberry. If you can't afford to buy the number you need right now, plant the ones you can afford and split them up next year. It's all very possible to start these from seeds, but the return on effort is going to be through the roof with cuttings.
I'm a huge fan of vermicomposting. Last year, I built myself a 2' x 2' x 2' continuous flow through worm bin and it's been near perfect for disposing of my kitchen waste. Since I don't have any animals and there's only two of us, it's always been difficult for me to maintain thermophilic compost piles. The kitchen scraps come in too continuous of a flow and in too small of a volume to ever really get a pile hot without me saving up scraps in the freezer or something silly.
But worm bins have worked perfect for me. Whenever the scraps bin in the kitchen is full, I go to the garage and dump it on top of the CFT with an equal volume of shredded cardboard (I use a paper shredder I got a thrift store) and a sprinkling of crushed egg shells (ground with an old coffee grinder). The end result is a perfect consistency compost ready for seed starting, making container soil, or fertilizing our indoor plants. I hope this year to start experimenting with compost teas with my vermicompost and improving my soil in the ground.
The big wins for vermicomposting over other composting methods for me are:
- Easy to start small, there is no minimum amount of material needed
- Designed to take a continuous flow of waste, perfect for kitchen scraps
- Works great with cardboard, something I often find myself in abundance of
- With the right bin, almost no maintenance (the most I do is add a little wqter every month or so)
I think as you scale up, and especially if you find yourself with large quantities of manure, I suspect vermicomposting starts to become a bit more work than thermophilic composting unless you can find a use for the worms themselves (selling them, feed for other animals, etc). But for small scale, I think it's the ideal composting setup.
I may sound like a broken record, but I fail to see how cryptocurrency plays any part in a permaculture mindset. Permaculture to me is first and foremost about abundance and removing artificial scarcity. Cryptocurrency at it's core takes an abundant resource and expends energy doing math problems such that it becomes a scarce resource. It not only wastes energy (burning fossil fuels), but invents artificial scarcity in the process. It is anti-environment at it's core.
Owning a vehicle is as much about cost as it is about maintenance. EVs in particular need a lot more active maintenance. If you cannot reliably charge the car fully every day, hook it up to a charger when not in use, and store it at a battery-friendly temperature controlled garage, the batteries will degrade extremely fast and make the whole thing pretty useless in a short amount of time. Combustion engines tend to be happier sitting for longer periods unused and don't whine so much about temperature flux. Also for what it's worth, for 99% of situations, a used car will be magnitudes more environmentally friendly than any possible EV could ever be. ESPECIALLY so if you only wish to use it occasionally. But that choice is up to you.
That being said, if you plan on parking your tiny house in permanent locations and only moving it occasionally, it's really not that big of a deal to hire someone to move it or rent a truck that can do so for a couple of days. I don't own a truck big enough to haul my tractor, but to be honest I wouldn't want to haul that thing even if I could. I'm happy paying someone else to do it when it needs to be done.
I'm two years into doing something like this. I have a large piece of land out in the forest, about an hour's drive from a house in town where I spend most of my time. I will say there is a whole spectrum of possibilities with something like this. This is definitely something a lot of people do — specifically a lot of people growing… medicinal plants… in the national forests, perhaps not so legally. But I'll ignore that for now and just give you a few anecdotes that I have experienced.
The land I purchased had several buildings already on it. A very old log cabin, a couple of hunting-cabin style mini cabins, a woodshed, an outhouse, and a large barn. There was a gravity-fed water system in place, sourced from a freshwater spring up the hill. This probably saved me years of effort. It took me an entire year to get everything cleaned up and the water system working again. Lots and lots of digging to find broken pipes. But once that was done, I had a warm, dry place to sleep with a constant source of water. Once this was done, it honestly doubled the amount of time I could spend improving the property. I got better sleep, could stay out there comfortably for longer, and didn't need to ration my water while doing the dishes.
One of the biggest time sinks in remote properties is not so much traveling to and from your house, but to and from the hardware store. It helps to be able to spend extra money on tools, screws, pipe fittings, etc that you might not need. Sure, you could buy that one compression fitting to fix the current leak. Or you could buy 10 because it turns out there were 3 leaks and you didn't notice the other two before you went to the hardware store. The same could be said for equipment. It is much nicer to own equipment than to rent it if you are in a remote property. If it's a two hour drive to town, that's eight hours needed to transport a rented piece of equipment to your property and back to the rental area. My point here is that it has been very valuable spending more money on tools in a remote property. Projects tend to take a lot longer to complete since it's more productive to quit when you don't have the right tool/part and move onto another project you may not finish that day.
Remote land is… remote. Having secure spaces to store your equipment and tools is extremely important. In an urban setting, a padlock on a shed is probably fine. In remote areas, you'll need to have inside-locking window battens and security doors. My battens are 1" plywood covered in metal sheeting with bolts welded onto hinges such that the batten closes on one side, the hinge on the other with the bolt going through the batten and secured from the inside with a nut. Still, people have broken into them in the past. People have time and resources in remote properties. Dirt bikes, snowmobiles, and ATVs can get around any gate. Also: definitely have gates! People usually aren't breaking in to steal stuff, just to screw around. Make it difficult for them to do so.
I thought I'd be able to have a productive garden by now, or at least a good start on a lot of perennials. But I dramatically underestimated the effort required to get infrastructure up and running to the point where I could work on the garden. That's alright though. I don't have a schedule. Last year I was able to make it out there about once a week, staying for a little over 24hrs and then a dozen or so weekends. This year, I'm hoping to spend an entire month out there (plus infrequent trips other times). The thing is, you don't really want to be spending all of your weekends working, especially if it's a beautiful place. For me, building the infrastructure necessary to enjoy being out there comfortably made me feel a lot better about working out there. Taking days off at the property is super important. It can seem easy to say "I'll camp out there and work every Saturday & Sunday" but that will drain you quick. No one wants to spend their weekends exhausting themselves building fences and sleeping on the ground in their sleeping bag, then going right back to their job the next morning in the city.
Watering things has been a challenge for me. My cover crop establishment has been dismal, but that's because I laid the seed down in the spring. This year I seeded in the winter, and am hoping for better results. If I can get things to develop past the seedling stage, it's no problem. Transplants are massively helpful when you can't be there to water. So are fall-planted things like bulbs, berries, and fruit trees. I was worried the fruit trees would need more water, but they were actually fine. We have a short growing season here, and the ground does not ever really dry out past 12" or so. My dead blueberries tell a different story. Speaking of which: fences! Wildlife has proved to be more of a struggle for me than watering.
I will say, the first two years kinda kicked my butt. When I first saw the property all I could dream about were all the things I wanted to grow. I did not dream about cleaning up barbed wire strewn about or digging up 200' of water pipe to find the leak. But I'm super excited for this year. I feel a bit like I've put in the hard work and finally get to get around to actual improvements this summer. I think any type of property takes a few years to really get into the swing of, but remote properties can be a bit harder. Everything takes more time when you can't live there full time, so it's important to take that into consideration.
The biggest difference between the US dollar and cryptocurrencies is that the United States has the world's largest military and will use it to back the currency. If you don't believe it has value, you can have that argument with a fleet of Predator drones circling your house. You may not enjoy how that argument pans out.
For me, one of the most interesting aspects of our existing market is a similar story. It is the story of strategic reserves. Boiling things down, it comes from the idea that the United States Military has a mandate to have the best and the most of every single aspect of warfare. The most technically capable weapons. The largest military industry. … and the most food for soldiers (logistics wins wars). This is the biggest reason preserved foods are so much cheaper than vegetables in grocery stores. United States subsidizes companies like Kraft to maintain factories capable of generating an extraordinary surplus of food. Enough say, to feed an army for a decade. This food needs to be shipped anywhere in the world, last years carried in adverse conditions, and be prepared with minimal equipment. Like say, twinkies or mac & cheese… In times of peace though, these factories can be used for the company's will. So they have massive factories subsidized by the government, which drives down the cost of preserved foods far past otherwise free-market conditions. There is no way to compete against this. It's a military mandate, backed by one of the world's richest countries, and it skews the world food markets something severe.
And of course, the same could be said for why corn is so heavily subsidized… corn is a high calorie, versatile food. It turns out the military has an interest there too. They want farmers growing far more corn than we consume. Just in case. In that light, I fail to understand how our current militaristic culture could ever put the environment first. It's just not in the mandate.
I know that out here in California, it has been an extremely dry and warm winter. The weather patterns have been very similar to 2014/15 — setting up high pressure ridges off the west coast, pushing cold air north and east, away from the west. This time last year, I had about 7ft of snow standing on the ground. This year, tulips are starting to push through the snowless ground as the temperatures reach mid/high 50's during the day.
I knew that phosphorous was used in a non-renewable way in fertilizers, but I definitely didn't realize most of our phosphorus comes from ONE country, that they keep the amount available a secret, and that we may only have a couple of decades of it left. I also enjoyed their focus on re-using pee first, since composting poo has so many complexities involved at a large scale.
The US Forest Service has a great website on this subject - Defensible Space. The key to protecting your home in a wildfire is making space & tools for the firefighters to do their job.
Often times there are grants, free labor, and tons of helpful information from local wildland fire fighters on this subject. I'd recommend getting in touch with them and seeing what they have to say. The local department around here will help make a plan for your property, offers free chipping of dead wood once a year, and does yearly inspections for free (if requested).
Last year I built myself a CFT (continuous flow through) bin out of 2x4s, plywood, scraps, and one tube of conduit. I'm a huge fan of these types of systems for worm farming since it eliminates the need to sift through castings and simplifies feeding and moisture monitoring (more air and volume provides safe spaces for the worms in times of overfeeding or overwatering). Just keep layering food and bedding on top, and when you're reading to harvest, scratch some out of the bottom. The composting area of mine is 24" x 24" x 24", but it is easy to lengthen the design to accommodate any volume of material.
In my (American) county, you can call the Sheriff's Department and ask to subscribe to reverse-911 alerts. When an emergency notification comes out, a robot will call your landline and read out the alert to you.
I know that growing up, I was always taught that brown eggs are "healthier" — it took much of my life to realize the only difference is… the color of the shell. So I can understand how one might think there is incentive to dye eggs brown for consumers. But in practicality, the commercial egg industry is heavily regulated, and more importantly — it's just not profitable to dye eggs. Brown eggs go for the same price as white around these parts.
Unfortunately, the truth here is that the eggs are dyed. That's how they get brown. Chickens naturally produce a dye that colors the eggs during the laying process. That dye can be removed with vinegar. Soak your eggs in vinegar for half an hour, then rub it. The color will come right off. Turns out natural dyes and artificial dyes are pretty similar. Chances are it's a bit harder to rub off on homegrown eggs since commercial eggs in the US are all washed, but it's rare for homegrown eggs to be washed.
If you believe yourself to be in a position where you have too many woodchips on a long-term timeline, I would look into Jean Pain style composting. It's a style of composting specifically designed for chipped up trees & brush (in Jean Pain's context, the purpose is wildland fire defense).
I don't think you'll get many answers on #3 as the goal of this forum is to discuss "organic or better" as a way to shape conversations.
Really though, all of your ideas are good ones. If you add more nitrogen, you will turn the pile a bit more bacterial and decomposition will speed up. But it will also decompose all on it's own without additional nitrogen, the pile will turn more fungal and that process will break down the wood chips over time as well.
Jane: Nice! I love Front Yard. I got a bunch of plants from them last year. I might hit them up again this spring when they've got their bare root in stock again. In the meantime, I've been rooting some stock cuttings (M-111) and am germinating some local apple seeds. I figure in a couple of years I can graft my own smaller trees if I can't find a convenient supplier.
I get mine from groworganic.com (Peaceful Valley), which sources them from Dave Wilson. It seems out here on the west coast, everything is Dave Wilson or Stark Bros in the end. I'd still love to find a supplier that can give me smaller, younger trees.
While y'all get that polar vortex on the East Coast, we've been praying for snow over here on the West Coast. This time last year, I was shoveling feet of snow off my truck every morning to hit up (yet another) pow day on the slopes. Still waiting for enough snow to open up the whole mountain this year :( This year… well we haven't had snow on the ground for half a month, and even then it was only a couple inches that lasted no longer than a week.
- In the Arid West, I think irrigation needs to be part of your plans if you are looking to have a productive garden in the next decade, even if only to establish it. Specifically, surface irrigation. Getting any kind of broadcasted seed to germinate is almost impossible without some kind of surface irrigation. The winds and sun sap the moisture out of the top couple of inches and the poor seedlings die before they get a chance. Also: windbreaks!
- Trees, bulbs, and root cuttings are much easier to get established than seeds. Fall planting similarly works great.
- My hugel bed has been a source of frustration for me. I built a hugel pit (not raised) last year and I'm curious to see how it works out this spring.
- Deer pressure has been a huge source of frustration. Fencing is a big deal.
Since I'm gone quite often, I think it makes sense to have a fairly small solar array, but several batteries. This would give the power somewhere to go, if I'm not there for a while.
This was initially my thought for my setup as well. I'm usually gone for a week or two at a time, then there for a couple days at a time. I initially thought a huge battery bank would be a good idea, but after talking to several retailers and professionals they told me if I can't charge the bank in 48 hours from the panels, I might as well consider the batteries dead on arrival. This is a combination of the raw storage (how many kilowatt hours), and the amps per battery available to satisfy an optimal charging profile for your specific battery type. The struggle with these banks is that they take all the batteries down together. In other words, you usually don't lose one battery. You lose the whole bank. And since batteries are almost always the driving cost for a system, you want to optimize your setup to keep them healthy & happy. Also, panels are cheap. Super cheap.
This looks good for a first step. The nice part about solar is that there are very few parts that can't be upgraded and the old parts sold for a decent portion of their purchase price.
The biggest flaw I see in your plan is that you are planning on storing a day's worth of energy generation at maximum efficiency. Batteries are a bummer in that they almost always want to be fully charged to live a long life. Weather is a bummer in that clouds happen. The earth is a bummer in that the intensity of light changes throughout the year. In order for a 1KW battery bank to be regularly re-charged in a given day (and you do want this to maintain reasonable battery life), you want at least 2KW of energy generation.
I think you should also look into breaking apart your electricity needs into daytime tasks (when the panels are running) and evening/nighttime tasks (when you'll be drawing down the battery bank). It's a good idea to try and only draw down your bank by 20% in any given night. Again, the lifetime of batteries thing. From your description though, it seems like you'll be fine until you choose to get a refrigerator.
What's the temperature of your bin? Red Worms tend to get lethargic in the winter when the temperature starts to drop. They definitely don't mind small spaces, in fact they enjoy clumping up together as tightly as possible.