How to Care for Compost Worms in Cold Weather


The easiest way to care for your compost worms during cold weather is to take your compost bin indoors or place it in a shed or garage. This is not always possible, however, especially if you have a large compost heap or a compost bin made from some type of hard-to-move frame. If you can't move your outdoor compost pile indoors, you can still keep your compost going and your worms alive with a few simple steps.

Step 1

Add manure to your compost pile to warm it up in the winter. The high nitrogen levels in the manure mixed with leaves will create heat as the properties react with one another in your compost, thus warming the compost pile or bin for your worms.

Step 2

Add shredded leaves to your compost pile to insulate the worms. In addition to mixing the shredded leaves into the pile, spread a thick layer of the leaves or some straw over the top of the heap or bin.

Step 3

Drape a piece of plastic sheeting or a tarp over your compost bin or heap. The plastic will help to protect the worms from snow, ice and freezing rain.

Step 4

Place hay bales around your compost heap to insulate it. Lay a piece of plywood or corrugated plastic on top to insulate the worms from precipitation and cold winds.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't turn the compost pile during the winter. This will help to allow the worms to remain at a more steady temperature. Beware of making your compost too hot, because this could kill your worms. As you're adding portions of manure and leaves, place a compost thermometer into the center of the bin or pile to monitor the temperature.

Things You'll Need

  • Manure
  • Shredded leaves
  • Plastic sheeting or tarp
  • Hay bales
  • Plywood
  • Cold frame (optional)


  • Go Organic Gardening: Cold Weather Composting
  • Vermicomposting: Composting with Red Worms

Who Can Help

  • Red Worm Composting: Cold Weather Worm Composting
Keywords: cold weather compost, winter vermicomposting, compost worms winter care

About this Author

Sarah Terry brings 10 years of experience writing novels, business-to-business newsletters, and a plethora of how-to articles. Terry has written articles and publications for a wide range of markets and subject matters, including Medicine & Health, Eli Financial, Dartnell Publications and Eli Journals.