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Harvesting my Vermicompost

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Harvesting my Vermicompost

Post  lzalvis on 6/20/2014, 7:55 pm

I am apparently a successful worm breeder/mommy.  My outdoor vermicompost bin (app. 8' x 2') is a-maz-ing.  I just pulled a few cups off the top to make some compost tea - I must have picked out 50 baby worms.   Shocked 
I must have thousands of little guys (and gals) in there!!!  Wheeeee!!!

Anyway, this fall, I'm planning to remove and use some of the compost for the first time.  Waht's the best (read: easiest) way to do this?  Because if I have to pick out all the teeny-tiny worms by hand it might take me hours.  And hours.  But I can't think of any other way.  

wisdom appreciated.  
Thanks!
laura

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Re: Harvesting my Vermicompost

Post  yolos on 6/20/2014, 8:39 pm

How in the heck are you able to have an outside worm bin in Atlanta.  It has been hotter than blazes the last few days and will continue.  Is it in the shade?  Do you have a bottom on the bin or is it open to the ground??  I have been wanting to do this outside bin but I thought it would be too hot unless you had an open bottom that allowed the worms to escape down into the earth to cool off.
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Re: Harvesting my Vermicompost

Post  lzalvis on 6/20/2014, 9:36 pm

I actually bought my starter worms from a man that lives in Covington, GA!  He is amazingly helpful by phone, he told me how to set everything up.  I will try to take a picture over the weekend in the light to show you.  I actually started it in a big rubbermaid bin in my garage (holes drilled in the top), but they outgrew it FAST.  

So now I have one out in my yard that is about 8' x 2'.  I took 4x4's and stacked them 2-high.  Then everything just got dumped right on the ground.  The trick was rigging up a light and cover.  They have to be covered in black plastic at all times - no holes in the plastic.  But you have to have a light on at all times, so I run an extension cord from the house and have a set of 'cool' large bulb Christmas lights. 

OK, the whole thing really deserves pictures, so I'll take them over the weekend.  I started with the rubbermaid a year ago, then in the fall I moved them to the outdoor bin.  thru winter and spring I just kind of experimented with what I have.

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Re: Harvesting my Vermicompost

Post  Tom Bergstrand on 6/21/2014, 12:58 am

@lzalvis wrote:  Because if I have to pick out all the teeny-tiny worms by hand it might take me hours.  And hours.  But I can't think of any other way.  

wisdom appreciated.  
Thanks!
laura
               What you need is a "halfway house". I use one every time. First you separate the adult worms from the vermicompost with a strainer. Usually a 1/4 by 1/4 inch will do the trick. The strained vermicompost will then go into a holding area such as a bucket with holes in it as if it were a bin. After about a month the cocoons will have hatched and along with the juveniles that snuck through the first time and have now grown up will then be screened out.
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Re: Harvesting my Vermicompost

Post  llama momma on 6/21/2014, 4:26 am

To remove vermicompost for immediate use I simply pull out a couple pounds on a plastic tray,  make several mounds and keep a bright light over it.  The worms dive down and you scrape off the top.  Repeat. You probably know this method already. 
   The slower method is to place food in one area and wait for the worms to migrate over there themselves. Then pull out the material that should have far less worms than before.  Your bed length is long so I'd have a couple of food areas.  There really isn't a super fast method to separate material, adults, and juveniles in a small scale set up. There are contraptions you can make, click over to redwormcomposting.com for more ideas.  
  You can take a rubber maid w holes in the bottom and place it into another tub w food and bedding. Place the vermicompost into the rubber maid w holes and they'll dive down to the food.  Encourage them with a bright light. 
   Eventually I've come to accept that saving every juvenile just isn't practical and accept it as normal.
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Re: Harvesting my Vermicompost

Post  lzalvis on 6/29/2014, 10:32 pm

OR, my newest thought....get some dirt-and-worm-loving little boys and pay them a nickel for every worm they pick out  Very Happy 

Seriously.  I'm not above it.

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Re: Harvesting my Vermicompost

Post  Tom Bergstrand on 6/30/2014, 12:02 am

Hi,
        Another little something. Make your piles small enough to fit in your hand. When the piles are set out under the light stick your pinky finger down into the pile in lots of places. The light will have MANY places to shine in. This forces the worms all the way down to the bottom AND at the center of it. Grab it and pick it up. Turn it upside down and 99% of them will be balled up in the center at the bottom (which when it is upside down will now be the top.) Pick them out and return them to the bin while keeping the compost for the garden.
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