How to Keep Worms from Freezing in Compost Bin

Published Date: June 13, 2021

Are the worms freezing in your compost bin, but you don’t know what to do? You may also be concerned about maintaining an optimum temperature for those worms. In this article, we will try to provide you with a good Insight so that you can save your worms from further freezing conditions.

First, you need to check both outdoors and indoors to find a suitable spot for the compost bin. This spot must have the optimum temperature suitable for vermicomposting. In addition, you need to learn what extreme conditions your worms can tolerate. Even after depending on nature or taking care indoors, it may not be enough for the worms. You may need to step up to raise the temperature of your compost bins. Continue to read the rest of the article to get detailed information about these procedures.

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The ideal temperature for your worm composting bin

Before starting to compost the worms, you should know the ideal temperature range. The ideal range is 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. But also remember, whatever the temperature you are feeling from your surroundings, the worms are most likely to feel the same. They are almost equally sensitive like you in terms of temperature toleration. But if you can maintain this range, your worms will be the most productive.

What extreme conditions can the composting worms tolerate?

The maximum temperature your composting worms can tolerate is 90 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. But try your best so that the temperature does not reach this range. Because when it gets just over 80 degrees, the composting worms will start to consume and reproduce less. Getting over 95 degrees Fahrenheit will result in mass death among the worm population. On average, a three-person household needs 1 pound of worms for their kitchen waste and organic wastes. Never add too many food scraps to a worm bin, because it will generate more heat and make the place uncomfortable for the worms. So, be careful while adding food scraps or kitchen scraps to avoid overfeeding. As the input ingredients get over wet, it may generate worm tea, leachate, and castings tea.

The minimum temperature for composting worms is 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature gets anywhere below 40, the worm cocoons will freeze to death. You can’t possibly do anything in that case to revive them. But try hard to keep the temperature above 60 degrees. Because just after it drops below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, the worms will do less consumption and reproduction. It will eventually slow down the composting process. So, make sure the organic material is not too wet and there are enough dry materials for good temperature regulation.

Raise the temperature to prevent worms from freezing

If you arrange for worm composting outdoors in winter, you need to take extra care as the worms are temperature sensitive. Because, if the outside temperature gets lower than the minimum limit, your worms will start to die gradually. So, before doing vermicomposting or arranging worm compost bins in winter, you need to take note of the climate and average temperature of your region. Always take help from the local worm farmers because they can guide you based on the local temperature. Consider following the tips shown below to raise the temperature of composting process and save your worms from freezing.

Put the cover on

During the winter, it may become hard for you to keep the heat trapped inside the container. Don’t keep the container open all day long during the winter months, it will lower the temperature below the minimum range resulting in the freezing death of worms. So, when you buy or make a container for composting worms, make sure that it has a cover on it. Always keep the lid on so that the inside temperature remains warm. If the container does not have any cover, use waterproof tarpaulins or hardboards on top of the container as a lid.

Ensure insulation

You need to add insulation to the outer portion of the worm bin. For effective insulation, use blankets, Styrofoam, bubble wrap, dry straw bales, dry leaves, a layer of straw, etc. as insulating materials. Do not block the drainage holes while using these things. Otherwise, the compost will get too wet leaving the worms vulnerable to freezing water. Make sure to leave enough gaps to allow fresh air to flow through the air holes.

If you are a gadget expert, try building a small temperature regulator inside your compost bin. This will help you to maintain an optimum temperature in all seasons, summer, winter, and spring. In addition to using insulating materials, you can try moving the composting worm bin to a different location. Make sure that the new location has a warmer temperature that can save the worms from freezing conditions.

Build larger compost beds for winter

If your worm compost bed is comparatively smaller in size, it is more vulnerable to freezing conditions. Due to the small surface area and volume, it can preserve less amount of heat that can be lost easily. As a result, if the winter weather gets rough, it will be tough for your worms to survive.

In this condition, try to build a larger system of vermicomposting for the winter months. A larger vermicompost bed will preserve a good amount of heat required for the survival of your worms. Don’t worry, the preserved heat doesn’t get lost easily for larger containers. In addition, you can also add fruit scraps to keep the temperature optimum. Due to the larger surface area, the worms will have the capacity to move more efficiently and their spots according to necessity.

Use heater for worms

In addition to using natural methods of heating, you can also try to approach artificial methods. While it is not certain that nature will provide you with enough heat, you can always rely on artificial machines. One good example to provide heat for your worms artificially is using a worm bin heater.

A worm bin heater is a heating mat that you use as a cover on top of the container. This will slowly generate heat for your worms in any season. Moreover, as you use this as a cover, it will prevent any leak or loss of heat. You can also adjust the heat production based on your surrounding temperature. As this is not a widely used machine, you may not find this at your local stores. So, don’t forget to browse Amazon or any other online retail services to find a suitable heater for your worms depending on the container.

Composting outdoors and indoors, which is better?

Worms are very sensitive to cold temperatures. If you leave the worms outdoors in a compost pile to let mother nature take care of them, sometimes they may become vulnerable to certain environmental factors. Usually, a traditional outdoor worm composter uses medium-sized bins or barrels to keep the worms. You can set up such a bin or barrel outside where the heat is optimum. You can add beneficial microbes for both cases.

Remember, selecting a perfect spot outdoors is very crucial for vermicomposting. But don’t only stop once you’ve placed the container, because that spot may not have the same temperature next week. For example, your garage and outside shed may not have the same temperature. Therefore, in addition to spot selection, you also need to continuously check and relocate the barrels to a spot where the heat is ideal. Otherwise, leaving the containers in one fixed location will become harmful for the worms as the temperature changes gradually.

Most people will suggest indoor vermicomposting. Because it will be easier to control the indoor temperature near the containers without having the hassle of relocating. If you use a heater for the worms, it will also be ideal to keep them indoors. Having indoor vermicomposting will mostly help you in cold months because if you leave your worms outside, they will become vulnerable to the freezing conditions. We suggest you use any indoor rooms that have proper ventilation for vermicomposting. Make sure fruit flies don’t become a problem for compost bins.

Vermicomposting indoor and outdoor both has its benefits. So, which one you prefer will depend on your climate and surrounding temperature. If you live in a country having mostly cold weather, you may permanently switch to indoor vermicomposting. Otherwise, if you want mother nature to take care of the worms, go for outdoor vermicomposting in a compost pile or bin.

Final Words

If you are an enthusiast worm composter, these worms are your life. Try not to rely on mother nature all the time, because it probably won’t work in the winter season. Contact a local worm farming expert to know different worm farming secrets. Take precautions to keep the worms properly heated and act quickly to save them from vulnerable situations. So, work hard to nurture and you will surely get a good outcome from them.