Redworms are healthy and active as long as they are kept above freezing and below 85 degrees. Even if the air temperature gets above 85 degrees, their moist bedding will be cooled by evaporation as long as air circulation is adequate. They are most active and will consume the most waste between 55-77 degree—room temperatures. Redworms need to live in a moist environment but must breathe air through their skin. Keeping their bedding damp is rarely the problem; preventing it from becoming waterlogged and airless can be a difficulty.1
Worm bin containers
Each cubic foot of worm bin can process about one pound of kitchen garbage each week. Containers that will house the worms should be shallow, no deeper than 12”. You will need to lift the container from time to time, therefore it should not be larger than 2’ x 4’. When the container is full of moist bedding and food, the container can be very heavy. A container larger than 2’ x 4’ will become hard to manage. If you make your bin from wood, use an exterior grade wood but do not use redwood or cedar as the oils from these woods are toxic to worms.
Bedding for your worm bin
The best bedding for a residential worm bin is newspaper and cardboard that is shredded into one-inch strips. These strips are soaked in water and squeezed out so they are merely moist. The strips are then placed in the bin to cover the food scraps that you place in the bin. The bedding must be light and airy to allow proper ventilation. The bedding cannot be too wet which prevents proper air circulation and will smother and kill the worms.
Ground up dry leaves can be used as bedding but it takes a bit of water to re-hydrate the leaves and to keep them from getting too dry – remember redworms need a moist environment to thrive.
Adding lime and soil to the worm bin help the worms digest the organic matter in the bin. The worms will use the added soil to help grind the organic matter. You do not want to add too much soil as there is no nutrition in the soil for the worms and too much soil will make the bin too heavy. Adding a couple of tablespoons of lime to your worm bin will also help the worms grind the organic matter while the calcium is nutritionally beneficial to the worms.
You want to provide the ideal environment in your worm bin for your red worms so they thrive and multiply. You can learn more about vermicomposting by clicking here.
1 Excerpt From: Organic Gardener’s Composting by Steve Solomon