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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 8:15 pm 
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Location: Calgary, AB
Anyone out there with outdoor bins in areas that get -25C winters that have some coments stories about bin size/depth and their experiences keeping things alive during a deep freeze?

I understand that the cold will slow things down but can a small unheated greenhouse keep EF worms from dying off in a large enough bin or does it require some form of heating? We generally don't get -25C days for long stretches here, generally not more than three or four days straight at the most.

I did some reading about using a separate worm bin for composting dog waste (I seem to have an endless supply). It's not something I want to bring into the house but the idea of setting up an outside bin for this sounds like something I'd like to give a try.

I've read about some of the discussions about the possibilities of parasites and disease associated with composting dog waste but my thinking is that I should be OK to use the VC on my lawn since a lot of it gets there anyway when it rains or gets burried under a lot of snow and forgotten for months. Wouldn't mind hearing opinions on that too.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 2:51 pm 
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Worms are very resilient, but no creature can survive prolonged freezing temperatures.
You would need to provide a heated, insulated environment to at least prevent freezing. This can be done if you excavate and use some type of soil heating cable - At least I've done it in zone 5.

There's nothing 'wrong' about composting/vermicomposting pet waste. All the literature cautions about only using this compost for ornamental plants as potential disease pathogens can survive the cold composting process. Of course, we all know of cultures that seemingly use even Humanure for vegetable production w/o incident. However, better to be safe then sorry.

As an experiment, you might take something like a 5 gal pail and cut the bottom out. Drill some holes near the top for ventilation. Burry it nearly to the lid in a corner of the yard or flower bed. Add some bedding and worms and then begin adding the dog dew....keep covered and moist and monitor to see how it does.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 9:41 pm 
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Abbeysdad wrote:
As an experiment, you might take something like a 5 gal pail and cut the bottom out. Drill some holes near the top for ventilation. Burry it nearly to the lid in a corner of the yard or flower bed.


I've seen something similar but instead of worms, you put in septic tank starter. That would do a pretty good job of getting rid of the dog doo but doesn't put any nutrients where my lawn could make use of it.

I've been trying to educate myself on vermicomposting and it's got me thinking about different ways I can make use of composting worms. I find myself daydreaming about worm bins I want to build on my train ride to and from work. I'm going to let my first bin mature a bit and then work on designing a home made one incorporating some kind of "in bin" or "under bin" heating system for use in my garage.

So far I'm thinking if I do it on a small scale I may be able to make use of an aquarium heater, I would not have to jerry rig a way to control temperature since many that I have looked at have that built in.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 11:38 pm 
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Here's a link to a similar project using an aquarium heater(link)

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 12:24 pm 
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Rom.Calgary wrote:
I've seen something similar but instead of worms, you put in septic tank starter. That would do a pretty good job of getting rid of the dog doo but doesn't put any nutrients where my lawn could make use of it.


Septic tank starter is a scam as the bacteria is already there ESPECIALLY if you add worms as they are a bio-reactor passing all sorts of good bugs. What I suggested works.

Rom.Calgary wrote:
I've been trying to educate myself on vermicomposting and it's got me thinking about different ways I can make use of composting worms. I find myself daydreaming about worm bins I want to build on my train ride to and from work. I'm going to let my first bin mature a bit and then work on designing a home made one incorporating some kind of "in bin" or "under bin" heating system for use in my garage.


Oh you got the obsession all right - but try not to go crazy 'designing a better mouse trap'...so many head down that road (we've seen sooooo many) only to eventually learn that the simplest habitat is simply the best.

What I have used with success in my unheated basement under a plastic sterlite bin is a heating mat used for seed starting - works great! An unheated garage would be much colder and require some additional heat source and/or insulation.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 1:10 am 
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BorealWormer wrote:
Here's a link to a similar project using an aquarium heater(link)


Pretty cool idea. I was thinking of using an aquarium heater since I have one plus a lot of aquarium stuff collecting dust in my garage but I hadn't yet figured out how I was going to circulate the heat throughout the bin. I'm thinking that with the water reservoir outside the bin you may be loosing heat before it gets inside. If the worms are just going to be in a Rubbermaid though, it may be easier to just put it in my basement.

I think my first project will be to start up a few Rubbermaid totes in my basement to get a larger population of worms on hand before I do any potentially fatal experimenting.

I do agree with Abbeysdad about simple being best ... if your objective is the worms and compost. I think that experimenting with stuff makes it fun though. When I fly fish at a spot that I've been to many times, I know what flies have worked for me at that time of day in the past. I still can't resist trying a new one every now and then.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 9:50 am 
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Quote:
Pretty cool idea. I was thinking of using an aquarium heater since I have one plus a lot of aquarium stuff collecting dust in my garage but I hadn't yet figured out how I was going to circulate the heat throughout the bin.

Okay then, but I just think simple soil heating cable (or mat[s]) is simpler/easier - but hey, as you say, you have to find your way.... 'but when you can take the pebble from my hand, weedhooper'....

lol

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 9:10 pm 
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You may be right about the soil heating cable but that would entail me buying one. Would be nice if I can make use of the aquarium heater I already have. I find it kinda cool to jerry rig something for a purpose that was not intended for. Get's me in touch with my inner MacGuyver.

Abbeysdad wrote:
but when you can take the pebble from my hand, weedhooper'....


I'll get that pebble one day sensei


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 9:42 am 
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I didn't have anywhere to keep my worms indoors last winter, and simply dumped the large bin out on the ground and then covered it with the wooden bin to provide a bit of protection. Lots of worms either died or wandered off (never found any dead worms), but some did make it through. I'm in Zone 3, and we had temps as low as -30F last winter. Check my post about it at:
http://vermontworms.com/compost-worm-update-june-2009/

As for using a heater to keep bins warm, it certainly could work, but think to the electricity you'd use. An alternative I plan to try is using hot compost to generate heat to keep things warm enough for worms.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 8:18 pm 
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vt_worms: Hot composting is something I'd like to try out at my family's weekend cabin but the community association where I live doesn't even allow backyard compost bins. A hot compost pile (though they don't specifically dissalow it) would probably put me on some people's bad neighbor list.

I got into worm composting because I can do it indoors away from snooty neighbor's eyes. I have space in my garage for a larger setup but I'd have to set up a way to keep it heated. My short term solution for larger volumes will likely be multiple Rubbermaids in the basement.


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