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My Outdoor In-Ground Worm Bed

Outdoor In-Ground Worm Bed

My Outdoor In-Ground Worm Bed

My Outdoor In-Ground Worm Bed will give me the ability to raise a much larger amount of worms and keep them alive through even the harshest of winters.  I’ve raised compost worms for several years now in the basement of my home. Raising worms in the basement is not a bad idea. It’s amazing how many worms can be raised in a relatively small area. A few good size bins can support a good many worms. It also works out nicely in the winter time when it’s freezing cold outside, or in the heat of the summer.

With that being said, there “are” limits to what you can do in a small basement compared to the wide open spaces outdoors. Being blessed to live in the country with 40 acres of land, and a desire to raise more worms than I could possibly fit in my basement, I thought it might be nice to construct some outside beds last fall. As with everything I do it tends to be more work than fun. What made it difficult is the rocky ground around here.

I decided to put the worms into the outdoor in-ground worm bed in order to make it easier to protect the worms through the winter. So far I’ve completed one bed and began digging the second. Winter put a stop to things for now but I’m looking forward to getting going again this spring. The bed that I’ve managed to complete is four feet wide by twelve and one-half feet long.

Let’s look now at how I constructed the bed.


Below is a picture of the hole I dug for this first bed. Note the pick, rake, and scoop. There is no such thing as simply digging with a shovel in this ground. I used the pick-axe to loosen the ground then a garden rake to rake up the dirt and gravel into the scoop. It was a difficult slow process. I ran into some rocks that were quite big. One thing that really amazes me is that there is a pretty large mole population around here, even with such rocky ground. Another thing I should mention here is that the bed is located in a shady area under the trees so there were also roots to be chopped out.

Trench Hole

These are some of the rocks I dug out of the hole. Also I was surprised to find a little ring-neck prairie snake while digging the hole (sorry the picture isn’t in focus).

big rocks
trench-snake

After digging the hole to a depth of about a foot and a half deep I framed the bed with scrap oak boards that I had available. I ended up having to splice some of the boards together in order to have enough. After fastening the frame together I filled the bottom with crushed limestone. This will hopefully help to keep the bedding from becoming too acidic. After placing the crushed limestone in the bottom I raised up the frame and fastened 1/2″ wire mesh to the bottom.of the boards. This should keep moles from coming in through the bottom.

trench-framing
trench-screen

At this point I placed boards inside the frame on top of the wire mesh to prevent digging into the wire mesh and limestone when I harvest worms or change bedding. The boards I used for this are 1/2″x 6″ scrap pine.

cross boards

Its Coming Together

After this I filled the bed with the bedding. I used aged horse manure for the bedding material. I then added another level of boards to the frame and placed more bedding inside.

trench6
trench5

Once I finished filling the bed with the bedding I then filled in around it with dirt and after that I stocked it with the worms. I used Red Worms from bins in my basement to stock the bed. I didn’t stock it heavily. I’m counting on the population increasing really good come spring.

finished bed

The Final Result


The image below shows the outdoor in-ground worm bed as it appeared on January 31, 2015. It had been piled high with horse manure to help hold in warmth through the winter. At the time this picture was taken the bedding had thawed due to warmer weather, but a week earlier the top four to five inches of the bedding was frozen. The worms have plenty of room to go deeper to escape the frozen bedding. Upon inspecting the bed I found a good many healthy large red wigglers. There were also a good many smaller worms.

trench-winter
trench-red-worm


Now, with the weather finally starting to warm up, I am looking forward to getting back to work constructing some additional outdoor beds (and harvesting worms from the finished bed)!

by Lonnie

I will be sure to share my updates here.

17 thoughts on “My Outdoor In-Ground Worm Bed

  1. Great job! I look forward to updates. God bless. Mary

  2. I envy you your 40 acres and that incredible looking worm bed. Great blog! Jocy

    1. Thank You Jocy. Congratulations on your worm sales.

  3. Nicely done. The pictures are very helpful and give more body to the narrative. I live in Tampa, FL and am wondering about the heat and how it will affect worms. I have not started any yet, recovering (I hope) from collapsed kidneys. Any suggestions? Bless you and yours, NEVER SAY QUIT!
    David

    1. The main I think you need to do is try to keep your worm beds out of direct sun if you are able to. I am situating mine in a shady area. Hope you get well soon.

  4. Love it! With the blend of narration and photos anyone (with a bit of elbow grease) can go out and reconstruct your project. Course my production would have totally shut down once I stumbled upon a snake! Only slithering squirming creatures I want to deal with are redworms! You mentioned a large mole population are you concerned by it? Great job Lonnie!

    1. I am concerned if a mole was to get into the bed it would feast on the worms. I’m erring on the side of caution. I’m also aware that there are a lot of other creatures that could invade the bed too.

  5. Nice job, I have the opposite problem of heat. I particaly buried cinder blocks and my outdoor bin is doing great.

  6. Nicely done!

  7. Love the article and the photos. I live in central Oklahoma and I am just getting into the worm research. I have an old cellar, and thought about using that to get started, but it gets down to around 40. So from what I’ve read they do best at between 55 & 70 degrees. I’m trying to find an economical way to raise the temp until I can move them outside. I really like
    your bed. I’m interested to find out how it works out. Thanks, Jerry

  8. Lonnie, your outdoor worm bed set-up is a worm paradise.

  9. excellent points altogether, you just gained a new reader.

    What might you suggest in regards to your put up that you made some days in the
    past? Any certain?

  10. Enjoyed your articles and pictures. Might try a small chisel plow for the rock to help break up and save on your back. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Jimmy,
      thanks for the tip on the chisel plow.

      Kyle

  11. Wonder how setting up in a concrete underground storm cellar would work during the winter for the totes.

    1. Jimmy,
      I think it would work just fine, next winter I will have a basement to try out and will blog about how well it works. The trench worked good, it has maintained close to 60 degrees F all winter.

      Kyle

  12. Inspiring story there. What occurred after? Thanks!

    Feel free to surf to my blog post :: CareyCRowett

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