If you’ve begun your worm farming journey, you may have found yourself on a learning curve. Plants are living, breathing things, and you’ve learned how to cater to each growing crop. Worms are a whole different classification of living, too, and you may be wondering what conditions they live best in and whether they require shade or not.
Worm bins should be in the shade, or a shaded area of your garden, to ensure they don’t overheat. Nothing can survive in extreme temperatures, including your plants and worms. The soil should be moist, with access to shade, and sunlight should be of a liveable temperature.
However, a little sunlight is suitable for your worms. Below, I’ll go over what “liveable” means for worms in a biological sense and give you a few tips on how to best take care of your worms. We’ll talk about worm bins and having worms in your gardening.
Ideal Sunlight Conditions for Worms
Like all the plants in your garden, there are some preferences for worms that you follow to ensure they can help your soil grow more nutritious. This process means there will need to be a balance of sunlight and shade–but the “sunlight” won’t be interchangeable with “heat.”
Sunlight is a way for worms to synthesize specific vitamins. For example, sunlight can benefit your worms because it helps them produce vitamin D3 – which can increase their lifespan (though you can also find D3 when you use UV lights).
You can choose to move them into the sunlight for no more than thirty minutes (they start to feel the paralyzing effects of sunlight around an hour). Alternatively, you may let them get indirect sunlight from being underneath a tree or shaded porch that receives some sun throughout the day (but not too much).
Temperature for Worm Survival
As you may know, worms are cold-blooded creatures, meaning they rely on their environment to regulate their body temperature. In other words, they need to be kept cool, or they will die or become sluggish and unable to do all the wonderful things you intended for your garden.
Temperature is an important factor here because worms need to stay cool. Their ideal temperature is between 59°F and 77°F (15°C and 25°C). Outside of their ideal temperature, they may survive, but they won’t be able to function at their best. Above 95°F (35°C), your worms will likely die.
So, it’s essential to keep your worms cool. But what exactly do we mean when we say “cool”? It depends on where you live! If it’s summertime where you live (say 85 degrees Fahrenheit), then getting some shade over the top so that the worm bins temperature doesn’t go above 80 degrees is good enough for most people.
How Much Shade and Sunlight Your Worm Bin Needs
To get us all on the same page, if there has been any misinformation, a worm bin is not just a bin to house worms. In the simplest terms, sure. However, no gardener should be putting a handful of worms they’ve harvested into an aluminum trash can near their garden and saying to them, “Come on, worms. Compost.” (This is how some of my gardener friends have killed a handful of worms!)
This video shows an in-depth look at what a worm bin should look like:
You don’t need to buy a fancy bin online (though you can, and we’ll discuss this later); you can make your own easily. This gardener used a giant tote bin filled with tons of soil, so the worms had lots of space.
There was room for air to give them food, and he made sure to put it in an area where the temperature wouldn’t skyrocket. His suggestion was a shady space with minimal exposure to sunlight.
Sunlight, Temperature, and Your Worm Bin
Hopefully, most of us know that you should never leave a child or an animal in a hot, parked car, even if it’s in the shade. The temperature within a vehicle, with the windows down, can rise high enough to threaten the occupants. We have to think of our worm bins similarly.
If you’ve decided to do vermicomposting, so you have worms in a bin as you would food scraps or other things you’re trying to put down, you don’t necessarily need to keep it out in the shade all day long. However, assess the conditions that may factor into the temperature inside the box:
- The material of your composting or worm bin.
- The temperature in your climate zone.
- The general temperature in the areas of your garden.
- The type of worm you’re farming and where you’re farming them.
When trying to figure out if you should keep your worm box in the shade, it’s important to remember that worms are living organisms. Like other living things, they require certain elements to survive – including sunlight and shade. But worms get sunlight through indirect consumption, as they naturally live underground in the soil and avoid coming too close to the surface.
Depending on your climate, your worms may do okay in partial shade, but if you have a hot and humid climate, you may need to find a spot where they can sit all day without overheating.
So, the simple answer is yes: you should keep your worm bin in the shade just to be safe. However, you don’t need to plant a tree just to find some shade in the garden for your worm bin.
Just remember that If kept in direct sunlight for any time during the day, the temperature of your box will rise precipitously, and the worms will die. Your worms will typically just dig closer towards the bottom.
Check Your Worm Bin Instructions for Any Insight
You may have been excited to get your worms set up in their new luxury compost bin, but don’t forget that if you ordered a vermicomposting container online, pause and read the instructions. Your worm box may have more information than you expect.
You don’t necessarily have to run experimental tests at different times of the day to see how hot your worm bin gets (though this is an option if you love the scientific process!). The worm bin instruction box might state that it requires a bit of shade to keep your worms happy and healthy and possibly a little indirect sunlight.
If you are moving your worm bin into direct sunlight (or have it in a spot where direct sunlight becomes the condition at a specific time of day), be sure not to leave it there for more than an hour at a time. Moving it into the shade after an hour will ensure that your worms don’t overheat and die.
Worms need cool temperatures, the moderating effects of shade, they may overheat and die. If the temperatures aren’t extreme enough, your worms will live but become too sluggish to get their job done.
For this reason, your worm bins need to be in the shade or a cool spot where they won’t overheat (overheating temperature is around 80°F or 26.66°C). Ensure that the worms have access to soil to help regulate their temperature.
Some vermicomposting bins have a specific ability to regulate temperature and sunlight. Consider purchasing one of these bins to ensure a fruitful life for your worms!