• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

How to vermicompost outdoors

 
Matt Wiles
Posts: 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi everybody! I need some guidance on how to keep a worm bed outdoors. I want to use the worm castings for making tea and top dressing plants ect. I've read a lot of articles online that say you can't keep your worm bed outside because of extreme temperatures. So can I? If so how should I construct the bed and maintain it in hot and cold weather(I live in North Carolina)? I know I can do small scale indoors but that wouldn't be enough for what I need. I don't mean I need a really large scale system, just something big enough and simple. Thanks in advance for any help! I am clearly very new to this.
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
Posts: 3766
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
142
bee books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Howdy Matt, welcome to permies!
Do you have any kind of barn or shed? Greenhouse?
How cold does it get there?
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
286
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The climate can be quite variable in NC.
It drops from Zone 8 along the coast down to about Z 6 in the mountains.
Heat/humidity can be brutal in the warm months, regardless of the 'hardiness' zones.

Your worms will do best if you can keep them within a range of about 55* to 80*.
If they are to be kept outdoors, year round, you will need to provide shade (and air circulation) in the warm months. Perhaps, the north side of the house, and some straw bales. The straw bales could also be used in the cold months, but the worms should now be on the sunnier south side of the house.

Another possibility would be to harvest the young ones in autumn, and bring them indoors for the winter, where they can produce many more young ones for the spring.

 
Matt Wiles
Posts: 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks for the reply and welcome! Yes, I'm in Z 7. Winters don't get too cold but I guess cold enough to hurt the worms. Summer is usually pretty warm. Is cold worse than heat for the worms? I do have a shed but it's not insulated, so it does have extreme temperature changes. I have a unfinished basement that stays in the 70's in the summer and doesn't freeze in the winter but does get well below 55. Could I do something in there? Maybe in the house in the winter and in the basement in the summer? That would be a pretty consistent temperature.
 
Brian Hamalainen
Posts: 100
Location: Chimacum, WA Sunset Zone 5, USDA Zone 8B
5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
One thing to remember is that the bio action inside a compost pile/worm bin doesn put off a fair amount of heat itself. Our compost pile is a 6'Wx3'Lx1.5'D frame (cedar fence boards) sitting on the ground. Last winter we had some days down in the 'teens but the compost pile was still warm and full of worms in the middle every time I'd turn it.
 
Matt Wiles
Posts: 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
That's a good point Brian. I should have thought about that. Thanks!
 
Ronnie Ugulano
Posts: 49
Location: Zone 9, CA
2
books urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm in zone 9, but all of my bins are outdoors. We get temperatures from about 29*F to 105*F over the course of the year - snow only every 20 years or so. My bins are under the eaves on the N side of the house, which is in the shade all year round. Winter is actually my better growing time, because there's usually more moisture and cooler temperatures. I've never had problems with the bins freezing. The bins do produce some of their own heat. When it gets hot, the moisture helps to keep the bin temperatures moderated.
 
Myron Weber
Posts: 67
Location: Orange County, CA, USA
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ronnie Ugulano wrote:I'm in zone 9, but all of my bins are outdoors. We get temperatures from about 29*F to 105*F over the course of the year - snow only every 20 years or so. My bins are under the eaves on the N side of the house, which is in the shade all year round. Winter is actually my better growing time, because there's usually more moisture and cooler temperatures. I've never had problems with the bins freezing. The bins do produce some of their own heat. When it gets hot, the moisture helps to keep the bin temperatures moderated.


I second what Ronnie says. I'm zone 9b with temps similar to what he stated (although the colder end of that range is rare and short-lived and the snow is never). Worms tolerate temperatures much higher than their ideal temperature. Their activity slows down in the summer, but it's okay because that's when the black soldier fly larvae become active (they migrated in naturally for me). Just keep them in a shady spot and make sure they don't dry out.

All I can say about the cold weather is that their activity also slows down when temps are in the 40s or 30s - I don't know beyond that, but others have given some good suggestions.
 
Jacques Fortin
Posts: 18
Location: southern ontario
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I was at a workshop last weekend on vermicomposting for farms, the presenter was from the Atlantic provinces so he had lots of experience with over-wintering worms. His experience has been that you don't need to worry about the worms, they'll die off over the winter in sub zero temps (below 32F) but the cocoons will survive and repopulate the pile in the spring.
 
2017 Appropriate Technology Course at Wheaton Labs http://richsoil.com/pdc
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!