It has been a busy afternoon harvesting worms and starting the process of harvesting the vermicompost. Hubby and I have noticed that the amount of worm castings is growing in the three blue bins and in order to keep your bins healthy, you ought to harvest the castings when they are done. We have also noticed that there are large populations of worms in the blue bins, so I decided it was time to start a new bin.
I have written about harvesting castings before. There are many different methods of separating the worms from the castings. One of the newest ways I have learned this year at the FoodShare Garden is pouring out a big pile of compost onto a tarp and leave it in dapple shade. The idea is that the worms will all scurry to the base of the pile. Mike, the compost expert at FoodShare, had not tried this before, but was curious. He had left the pile there for about 20 minutes, I think. I then helped to dig through the compost pile and to my delight, the experiment worked! Most of the worms were grouped at the base, making the picking-out of worms a little easier. I believe Mike’s typical method is using his homemade sieve using wire mesh held together by a wood frame. The compost is poured onto the sieve and gently shaken over a bin. The compost falls through and the worms a left on the sieve. My method is pushing all the compost over to one side of the bin and filling the other side with bedding and food. The idea is that the worms will finish off the old compost and start making their way over to the new bedding. I admit that my finished compost is not nearly as fine as what Mike makes. I may need to try the sieve method to get to his level.
There is something fun and therapeutic about picking out worms. My worms are a lively bunch and like with jump around and glide through my fingers and even my ring!
While I was using our new paper shredder to shred paper for the new bin, hubby was picking out the worms in our original white bin. For whatever reason, the white bin has not been doing as well as the blue bins. The bedding always gets bone dry. I have tried moving it farther from a vent, but that did not help. I thought it was simply that there were not enough worms working, but hubs discovered that there were quite a lot of big worms in the bin. He pulled out all the old bedding, plucked out the worms, and we treated it the same as the blue bins by pushing over the little bit of compost and added fresh bedding and food. We picked out almost one pound of worms, which we divided among the five worm bins. I hope they are enjoying their new digs!