#129 - Worm Bin Temperature Control
I have been having a very hard time in controlling the temperature of my Hungry Bin worm bin in the Hawaii afternoon heat. The location where I have the worm bin stays in the shade until the later afternoon as the sun starts to dip down in the west, then it is in direct sunlight unfortunately at the hottest part of the day.
It has been in the low to mid 90s outdoors lately and inside the bin it has gotten as high as 97 degrees. Luckily the worms are able to go deeper in the Hungry Bin to escape the heat, but that is not ideal for them as unlike regular earthworms, compost worms do not burrow deep into the soil, they like to stay in the top couple inches.
Because of the higher moisture level inside the bin for the worms, when the heat rises it basically turns the bin into a sauna which worms do not like at all.
For the past few days I have been adding a 2-liter soda bottle that I keep filled with water sitting in the freezer on top of the soil. The ice block helps a little bit and I have seen several worms congregate closer to the bottle so they are liking the lower temperature that it provides.
Today when the temperature started to rise I added a second frozen bottle to the top of the bin to see if that helps. The temperature stayed much cooler in the bin in the heat of the day and the worms seemed much more active and appreciative of their cooler environment. There were a lot more of the worms visible up in the moist shredded cardboard bedding instead of being below it in the compost trying to stay cooler.
I gave them some cantaloupe yesterday which they should enjoy, but because it was so hot they were not very active at all and did not appear to even touch the cantaloupe when I checked it this morning.
I have decided to install a rollup sun shade that I can drop down behind the bin to block the sun in the afternoons and keep it from directly hitting the back side of the Hungry Bin. I will have to fight my Homeowner's Association over this as they apparently have rules for everything and do not like sun shades at all.
I opted for an outdoor manual cordless sun shade from Coolaroo that I purchased at Lowes. I wanted to find something that would be a closer match to the color of my house, but apparently no one makes pink sunshades as a stock color so I settled on a "Pebble" color which is about the closest match I could find. It was either this or what they called "Almond" which was actually a darker brown and not the color of any almond I have ever seen. The actual color of my house is "Navajo Desert" but it looks a lot like a faded out Pepto-Bismol to me. It happens to be about the same ugly color as Tripler Army Medical Center and because of that and my flagpole, some of my friends refer to my house as "Baby Tripler".
This sun shade blocks 95% of the ultraviolet light from the sun so it should do a good job at protecting the worms from the Hawaiian afternoon heat. It has a manual crank on one end that is turned to raise and lower the shade and has bungee cords at the bottom corners that lock into brackets that you mount to the wall to hold the bottom of the shade still in the wind when it is in the down position. It is designed to hold the shade still in light or moderate winds, but for heavy winds the shade should be rolled up to protect it. Of course, if the winds are blowing that strong I won't have to worry about the heat anyway because we will be in the middle of a storm. If everything works as it is described, it should work perfectly for this application.
I borrowed a ladder to put the sun shades up and as I collected my tools I noticed that I did not have the right size masonry drill bit to install these. I have regular drill bits, carbide drill bits, diamond tipped drill bits, tungsten drill bits. Basically everything except for a masonry drill bit. Since these will be attached into a concrete wall I need a masonry drill bit so off to Home Depot once again.
Ok, I got the correct drill bit and was finally able to get the first sun shade installed.
The color is sort of in-between the pinkish "Navajo Desert" sand color of the house and the off-white trim, so I guess it sort of matches. Can't wait to see what the HOA has to say about it.
It is just a little wider than the half-wall that is in front of my Hungry Bin, but that is the closest size match I can get in a stock sun shade and I am not about to have one custom made for it. The bungee cords at the bottom work nicely being attached to the half-wall and stretching out to hold the bottom of the shade.
To the right of this sun shade is an walkway then there is another matching half-wall farther to the right where the second matching sun shade will be installed. I will wait until another day to install that one though. The worms aren't the only thing that isn't liking the Hawaii summer heat today. It is 90 degrees out there and 79% humidity. Every few minutes it starts drizzling. It doesn't rain enough to cool anything off, but just enough to keep it unbearably muggy. Time to go cool myself down.
I kept the crank on the side where that large white column is beside the shade. When I install the second shade I will swap the cranking mechanism to the other end of the shade so that it also goes down alongside a matching white column instead of it flopping around in the open walkway between them.
The sun shades are behind that overhang, so when they are rolled up they are completely invisible from the street.
As the sun started to come down on that side of the house I noticed a considerable difference in the temperature between standing in that walkway beside the sun shade and standing behind the shade next to the Hungry Bin. This is blocking most of the UV light out and thereby the heat, so it should make the worms very happy now.
Thats it for this time. I will monitor them for a few days and see if I will still need to add the ice bottles to the bin or if the shade will do enough to control the temperature on its own.
Until Next Time,
Aloha & 73