This is a page about worm composting or Vermicomposting. Worm bins, worm farms and worms eating your kitchen scraps.
Updated Tuesday July 19, 2016
Worms are such an easy heard to manage. You can often neglect them yet enough survive to re-build the farm when the time comes.
We have had two outdoor worm bins going for years now and they get only minimal attention. Yet they are still productive.
Easy Casting Harvesting
A common tedium involved in worm farming is how to separate the castings from the worms. There are many ways to do this, most of them tedious.
I think I have found the easiest way to get castings from a worm bin without having to pick through them and remove the worms.
It is a layer method but I'm doing it a bit backward from what most people try to do. See, I found that if I did the norm where you put new fresh
food on top of a screen (burlap whatever) and fed on top of the old castings, that many of the worms would remain down in the bottom where it is cooler,
moister, and the food juices are still dripping down to feed them. So I developed my new method which is still using layers with screen or whatever but
the steps are just slightly different.
First, I start a new bin as normal with moist bedding, food and worms and let them work for several months until what is in the bin is starting to look like
what I want to use in my garden.
Second, I lift out that bottom layer (easy if started on top of a screen to be lifted out) and set it aside temporarily.
Third, I put new bedding and food in the bottom of the bin (if I am thinking ahead, I will put this layer on a screen too.)
Fourth, I put a screen over the new bedding and place the nearly finished castings and worms on top.
The nearly finished suff on top will dry out a bit more and the worms will work their way down into the new food and bedding. If you leave the castings on top
long enough, most of the cocoons will hatch and the babies will move down too. You can easily lift aside the screen to continue feeding under it.
Finally, I lift the screen of finished castins out and dump into a bucket, ready for use directly or to be sifted for seed starting.
None of the back breaking leaning over a tarp full of worm poop scraping the tops of the piles off while the worms burrow deeper.
I have done a few harvests of castings this way and I tell you I LOVE it. The old way was too tedious even if it was fun running my hands through the worm poop.
We currently have two worm bins like the one pictured. Every couple months we can be harvesting lots of worm castings.
Our bin is 2' by 4' plywood on legs with a screen lid. It is outdoors in a shaded location under a roof.
We started out with 2# of worms so divided the bin in half and only filled one end of the bin at first. We wanted to make sure the worms would be close enough together to find each other and breed. Sometime in September we added bedding and food into the other end so the worms could start moving away from the first end of the bed. (This method of trying to get the worms to migrate so that harvesting castings is easier, doesn't seem to work very fast.) I harvested Casting is mid November 2007. It was tedious separating the baby worms and cocoons from the castings.
I got about 7 gallons of worm castings.
I like shredded, corrugated cardboard as bedding (so long as I have a paper shredder that can handle such stuff.)
I've used shredded paper and paperboard (like cereal boxes) in the bedding before. The paper tends to ball up and stick together some and the paperboard doesn't break down very fast due to the glossy coatings. The corrugated cardboard has an added bonus of being a food source as well as a bedding. The glue provides some protein and the worms seem to love the corrugations. I use larger chunks and sheets of corrugated cardboard over the top of the bedding to help keep things moist and dark, there are often many worms on the underside of that.
Peanuts in their shells and other seed hulls are very slow to break down and they are the primary items (other than baby worms and cocoons) that I was picking out of the castings to toss back into the bin. In the future I may want to put seeds into the regular compost bin instead of the worm bin.
I could supply worms if anyone is interested but I expect most people to look local to themselves first. If anyone would like me to
look into supplying them with worms, please say so through the contact form.