Friday, January 23, 2009

a helpful hint for frozen worm bins

My garage is pretty cold, even though it is attached to the house. I overwinter some marginally hardy potted plants out there, and, because my house is smallish, I also keep my worm bin just outside the laundry room door that opens to the garage.
I've harbored feral cats out there, with food and water and shelter from the wind, and learned that if the cat water has a skim of ice in the morning, the temps are dropping pretty low outdoors.

Well, this winter, the outdoor temperatures are frigid. BRRRR. Subzero and I mean Fahrenheit. No cats in the garage this year but my worm bin is still out there and after those subzero days in January 2009, I have been worried about the little guys. Anyone want wormcicles? I don't even like the image in my brain!
Not a big deal in the Karmic rotation (perhaps), but I'd still feel guilty if the little creatures froze solid.

My herd survived below freezing during winter 2007-8, in contrast to the instructions from every vermiculture authority I've read who say they start disappearing? what? around 40-something degrees.

Anyway, this winter My Experiment in Worm Survival has earned Positive but Surprising Results that I'll share with you now:

My bedding-food mixture was questionably stiff, and I thought I might be begging worms from the worm guy at the Extension again come spring (if his worms survived, that is), but last week a light bulb clicked on over my head:
I put a trouble light in the bin.
One light bulb, a few inches above the surface of the contents revived my bin and upon scratching the surface of the thawed bedding-food mass (they don't like light), I detected a lively red worm.

A caveat or two: The bedding is shredded bills and other paper, a fire hazard if it came in contact with a lightbulb. So I kept the lid propped open a tad for ventillation with one of my old cat towels barely covering the gap. Don't need to burn the house down for a few worms. Be thrifty, but be wise.


Muddy Boot Dreams said...

Great idea, I am thinking about starting a worm bin, but had no where to keep it during the winter. This might be the answer.


tina said...

Yes, please do not burn the house down for a few worms. though there would probably be tons more worms in the remaining ashes to take the burned worms place:) I like your idea. I too keep plants and stuff in my garage. A handy spot indeed.

Adam Zekmueller said...

I read somewhere online of people putting a 5 gallon aquarium heater inside a jar of water and placing the heated jar of water into the bin.