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Sunday, September 4, 2016

Keeping Worm Bin in the Desert

Q. Do you keep your worm bin in the house or outside? If outside how big is it and do you have to do anything to keep it cool? Could you do a post about how you care for your worms? 
We bought to Rubbermaid plastic storage containers for the worms. I drilled 3/8 inch holes all through the top, the upper edge of the side and the bottom for drainage and air movement. I used the dark one because I didn't want light inside of it.

The side of the container was drilled with the same size holes for ventilation. I didn't want to drill holes all through the sides because I was worried about the worms.

Drilling holes in the bottom of the container was very important for draining water. I tried to put holes in places on the bottom where water could drain easily. I didn't want the holes to close because I was worried about ruining the integrity of the container.

I bought 1 pound of red wigglers because I had read they were some of the more adaptable of the warms. In the summer I kept the container outside on the east side of my home under the shade of a sweet Acacia.
A. I bought two Rubbermaid plastic storage containers from a local box store and drilled holes through them for ventilation and drainage. I was worried about the temperatures, both our hot summer temperatures and cold winter temperatures and keeping the compost too wet. 

The summer temperatures can get over 110° F frequently and approach 120° F (50C). I didn't want direct sunlight on the storage containers with worms because of the heat created from direct sunlight. I place them outside in the shade of a suite Acacia tree on the east side of my home on top of rock mulch. 

I was hoping the HOA would not bother me about it and they didn't. I started the worms off with a 2 inch layer of shredded paper from a shredder. I mixed vegetable scraps, that I normally would throw out, with this shredded paper. 

By the way, I do not use colored paper or colored ink, only white paper with black ink. The ink was soy-based and not lead-based and from a printer and newspaper. I threw in a couple cups of soil with this mix. I always blend my vegetable scraps in the blender, including coffee grounds and egg shells, just to get them as small as possible before giving it to the worm bed. 

Once the mixture inside the container looked inviting and thoroughly moist, I put in a pound of red wigglers compost worms. I bought them online when the temperatures were cool and they all survived the UPS shipment just fine. They loved it! I covered this worm bed with cardboard that I kept wet. They had no trouble with the heat during the summer as long as they were kept wet. I didn't risk them outside during the winter because our temperatures can dip into the low 20s late at night. Sometimes even colder than that. So from mid December until February 1 they stayed in the garage. They handled the garage temperatures just fine.

I had one problem once when the worms were attacked by an insect. I was not in the country. My daughter told me about it and when I returned a couple of weeks later they were all dead. I never identified the insect but they could fly according to my daughter. 

I thoroughly cleaned out the vermicompost and used it. I sanitized the plastic container. I started the process all over again. During the summer months I would have to add water with a spray bottle about every other day until I saw some water coming out of the bottom holes. Then I stopped adding water. 

I always kept the cardboard moist on the bottom. It would dry out on the upper surface. I would lift the cardboard and add the slurry of vegetable scraps from my blender to the surface of the worm bed. They were very active after a feeding. 

Once they degraded the food in the worm bed, I would add food only on one side of the container. This would get them to migrate towards the food and I could clean out some of the finished vermicompost and add fresh shredded paper bedding to the side that was cleaned out.


  1. An additional comment regarding my last question on my worm bin experience. I also found numerous little brown frogs inside my vegetable garden. Whenever I added home made compost to the soil I the garden. I saw lots of earh worms in the compost, but hardly any in the garden soil. That is the reason I suspect the frogs have been eating up the earthworms inside the soil. But people tolde frogs are good for the garden since they eat insects. I have no proof the frogs are the culprit of worm eaters. But it is difficult to get rid of the brown frogs. What do you think?

    1. Hmmmm..first I heard of that one. I really don't know what to make of it. I just googled "do frogs eat worms" and got lots of hits including a YouTube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_JxzLOilt8