Red worms are great partners for composting and improving desert garden soil. I’d suggest that you wait until spring, when soil temperatures are warmer, then add some worms. Worms need a moist soil, well amended with organic material ( eg. compost) as that is their food source.
You could gently scoop out some worms and their castings from your bin, then bury them in the top 3 inches of your garden soil. They will eventually move upward and feed on decomposing mulch.
Once you have added worms, then mulch the top of garden soil with 4 inches of organic mulch. This will decrease evaporation of moisture and the mulch will slowly decompose and become a food source for them. Some mulches might be: shredded leaves, straw, shredded paper/cardboard, 3” of compost or a combination of these mulches.
Worms outdoors. You did not send your zip code, so assuming that you live in central NM / Bernalillo Co., then worms will be fine outdoors as long as they are protected from sustained freezing temps and overheating in summer.
An easy, soil protected outdoor worm bin, in my opinion is a container in the soil. The container may be repurposed plastic with a lid and an open bottom. Once buried, the surrounding soil provides insulation form winter cold and summer heat. The description is on this webpage:
NMSU: Bernalillo County Master Composters: Bucket in a Hole
Another method would be to sink your current worm bin 8-12” into the soil, then bank the soil around the bin for protection. Cover the bin with with a “blanket” of several layers of cardboard. You may also surround the bin with straw bales- your choice. Red worms are a bit slower at lower temps., but with protection they’ll be fine. I have protected worms outdoors in all seasons in Rio Rancho. In summer months the cardboard will shield the bin from intense sunshine heat.
Let us know if this is helpful and if you have more questions. All the best.
I also have two worm bins in my garage in 10-gallon Rubbermaid containers. In the spring I bury them in a shady spot in my back yard. When I harvest the castings, I move about half of the worms to my raised garden beds and cold compost bin, leaving the rest to carry on and multiply in the newly re-established bedding in my worm bins.
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