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The Poop Scoop Newsletter, Worm Composting in the Winter & The WFR Book?
September 17, 2014
Worm Composting in the Winter & The WFR Book?
Welcome to another issue of the Poop Scoop.
Where it's my ultimate goal to Teach, Inspire & Empower you to
become the best worm farmer you can be...Plus a lot more!!! In This Issue... 1. Winter Composting 2. Worm Farming Revealed...The
In This Issue...
1. Winter Composting
2. Worm Farming Revealed...The
It's that time of
year again to start thinking about winterizing your worm
bin or compost pile IF you worm compost outside of course.
There are 2 primary factors to keep in mind:
1. Microbial heat generated naturally and
2. Plenty of proper insulation
It doesn't really matter (to a degree...no pun intended) what type of bin you
use outside as long as the two criteria mentioned above are met and you have
enough mass (soil, castings, bedding) to keep the bin from freezing. So let's
first talk about the microbial heat.
This is pretty simple of course, as all of us know, that it takes decomposing food to generate heat. The cells break down and are consumed by tiny microorganisms called thermophiles or mesophiles. This generates the necessary heat for your worms to stay warm and cozy.
What are good sources of food for fuel? Usually what you normally put into the worm farming bin. Remember that grains (starches) like corn, wheat, etc... will generate heat quickly. You can put these into the worm bin especially on really cold days or weeks. If you live in milder winter climates simple kitchen scraps will do. You may even get away with only carbon sources in these mild winter regions if the microbial community is extremely lively.
Proteins may break down a little slower as they are more complex. Make sure you feed every couple of weeks or at least monitor your bin.
If your worm bin is big enough like a trashcan you can get away with plenty of grains as the worms have horizontal and vertical spaces to go to in case it gets too warm inside the bin. There will be some pretty warm days in the winter depending on where you live so use your best judgment. Watch your worm's behavior.
Carbon materials like leaves, straw, and paper are still needed in the mix of a 20:1 or up to 40:1 C:N ratio (carbon to nitrogen) as your food-to-fuel source. At times you might want to add a little more nitrogen sources. It also continues to give you great castings for your plants in the spring. The Carbon and Nitrogen work off each other to help bring a balance to the nutrition of plants and can't do without each other.
Good insulation sources are leaves, straw or hay even insulation board (Styrofoam or fiber) in large quantities around your bin as insulation. This helps to keep the heat in as well as provide a place to retreat in case the center of the bin or pile of the worm habitat is too hot or too acidic from over feeding. This is why you still want to mix it with plenty of carbon materials. Adding minerals, of course, will help complete the balance.
Ideally you want to keep doing what you're normally doing throughout the summer except for piling the insulation on very thick about 1-2 feet depending on your area of the world but upping it on the nitrogen ratio. Some can get get away with a trashcan sized bin as there is enough mass (about 2 ft. diameter) for worms to huddle in the center with the nitrogen foods or retreat to the outer edges to cool off in the warmer winter days.
You may even consider burying the worm bin into the ground about a foot or so with large piles of hay, leaves or straw. This works even better especially for bins that are much smaller and don't hold as much mass.
Types of Bins
1. Trash cans can be used especially in milder climates. On the inside be sure to always pack the sides with plenty of carbon material and then your C:N mix in the center. The worms can come and go to the middle as they please. Drill a few holes at the top and bottom for ventilation. Not too many as you don't want to loose too much heat.
For harsher climates you can build a four sided wall around your trash can made out of 4x8 plywood and fill it with plenty of hay or grass. Put the trash can in the center of the hay and keep the lid on to keep the heat in.
2. If you want to use your raised flower/garden beds then this is a great way to create castings straight into the beds. Dig a trench down into the bed, fill the bottom with carbon material, add your C:N food mix, then pile on the insulation (leaves etc...) and lastly cover it with a tarp. This should keep the heat in quite nicely. You know you're doing it right if the snow melts and doesn't stick to the top of the tarp when it does everywhere else. Of course it still might when really cold or cold for long spells.
3. Build a wooden box. Make a wall inside a wall like our homes are constructed and fill it with hay, leaves, straw etc...or you can omit the extra wall as long as you fill it with plenty of carbon insulators. Be sure to leave a tiny crack between your planks for ventilation. If using plywood then drill tiny holes. You can also put a tarp over it to keep out excess rain or snow. You don't need too many holes for any of these bins. It's important to keep the heat in while still allowing the compost to gas off bringing in just enough fresh oxygen for the worms and microbial community.
4. Small bins (like that of plastic totes or whatever else) can be
sunken into the ground, buried under piles of carbon materials and a tarp if
Remember to get a composting thermometer to stick down into the compost. You want to monitor your compost. This will inform you should you need to add more foods. It really depends on your goals. Do you want a thriving/growing community or do you just want to keep your worms and their cocoons alive for next year?
If you want your community to grow then keep your temps in the 55-75 degrees F. range. But this will take a lot more work and vigilance on your part.
If you only want to keep your worms alive for next year, then keep your compost from freezing. It's that simple. Red worms are tolerant of very low temperatures. Warning! This will not work with African Nightcrawlers and Blue Worms. You'll have to keep temps above 50 or more Degrees F at all times as these temps will kill them.
Have fun with your winter worms OR you could always do what I do and just compost indoors and create even more castings in the comfort of your own home. I have them in my house and NO they don't smell. Just ask my Wife and kids.
2.Worm Farming Revealed...The Book!
Here is where it gets FUN! :)
If you know me then you know I try really hard at delivering free useful information at the website so that you are as successful as can be. BUT this will also be your chance to help me and to help other people all over the world to see what makes your worm farming system a success. It's not your normal worm farming book now is it? ;)
It'll show you how to stay away from those expensive bins and even find worms on your own or bait them. It's totally for the frugal farmer and those that want to start a small business too.
If you have contributed to the website in any way from in the past or this coming fall and winter I may be asking you (in an email) if you would like to be featured in the book. Parts of the book will focus on the global community, like you showing us how successful you are through the foods you feed, what type of system you have, how you harvest worms and castings, how you make tea, what type of worm you have, how you mix your castings and use it, etc...
The book really does show you how other people (in the real world) are doing it rather than just teach you step by step like most other books. I know, including me, that many people would just rather have a book in their hands than sit and stare at a glowing screen for hours on end. So if you would like to be in the book be looking for my email to you and start uploading your knowledge in the Worm Farming Community.
Now I would like to know if their is anything in general that you would like to see in the book that would really help you out. Let me know by replying to this newsletter. I'm not talking about commercial worm farming. That's a whole other book some day.
I'm also coming out with another related worm farming book too but that one's a secret for now ;) Thank you all!
"From Synthetic Thinking to Organic Doing"
Please share this email with anyone!
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