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Putting worms in Outside Tumbler Composters

Many of my customers have inquired about adding red wigglers to their tumbler composter. I have had success setting up outside bins and barrels with shredded newspaper bedding like an inside worm box with red wigglers. They have even survived the winter without any special insullation protection. However, I have never tried this with a tumbler. Obviously, the bedding which is normally on the botton of a box would get mixed up if put in a tumbler. Would the process be OK for the worms. Has anyone tried this approach or even put worms in a tumbler. They might get dizzy every time you turn the tumbler. I am not talking about the kind of tumblers used to separate worms from the compost.

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There is the issue of having that magic combination of C + N plus water + tumble around for aeration and starting the heating process to the extent that it becomes unfavorable and the worms try to escape or die. This generally needs a higher volume of material than the average compost bin to get hot composting but it can cause the worms to try to search for cooler environments inside or outside the bin.

That being said, they should be a net benefit to the composting process, they do good things in a cold compost bin. There is likely going to be a lot of opinion that the tumbling is probably not best for the worms but unless your talking about an excessive amount of tumbling on a regular basis, I bet they'd survive and multiply. For me they aren't pets so if it doesn't kill them and it helps the process I say go for it. I wouldn't put all my worms in for this though, use some that you can sacrifice for experimental purposes.

I read a post (don't recall if it was this forum or another) where they put EF in a composting toilet, the kind that tumbles the poop around and turns it into a less vile mass of stuff I still wouldn't want in my veg garden. The worms flourished in there and helped the process of keeping the odors down and breaking down the poop, paper, etc.
I have two outdoor tumblers (converted plastic 55-gal drums) and have been less-than-pleased with them. While I have no problems maintaining good heat in my regular compost piles, I can never get these things to heat up at all---regardless of my paying an insane amount of attention to C:N ratios. I've come to the conclusion that outdoor tumblers are practically worthless.

Thus, any attempt to make these a usable feature in a garden would probably be good. BUT, you will have a greater problem with these in cold weather as they are raised off the ground (the same problem as when you spend the night in a hammock....your backside gets cold real fast). I probably also would not tumble this much....what would be the point?
But does the tumbler with worms perform better than without? Never tried it but it stands to reason that it should. I'd agree with you in that I don't see the benefit of the tumblers myself, a plastic bin left alone seems to do a pretty good job.
In general, if a tumbler is turned regularly (like daily or every couple of days which is needed for initial heating phase)- the worms will move out. Not only will the heat drive them away (or kill them)- their instinct tells them that this is ground which is frequently disturbed and a haven for worm predators who sit and wait for worms to be churned up to the surface.




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