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Harvesting Vermicompost

The worms are snug in their new bin. The tally: 738 worms weighing 9.42 ounces. That includes a lot of baby worms, which is good, because growing worms eat more food than their adult counterparts.

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To harvest the compost, we first emptied the bin into piles. Worms automatically move away from light, so they congregate at the center of each pile. Then you can easily sift through the compost until you get to the ball of worms in the center. Okay, maybe not easily—it took three hours for Jason and I to get through it all. It could have been a lot faster, but we were stopping to pick out every one, rather than tossing them into the new bin en masse.

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After weighing the worms, we added them to the new bin, already filled with newspaper and food scraps. (Thanks for your contribution, Sharon!) We tore the newspaper into strips this time, rather than putting it through a shredder, in the hopes that the larger pieces will discourage the worms from munching on their bedding. Then we wet down the newspaper so the worms could breathe. (Very important.)

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The old compost wasn’t completely broken down yet (and, in fact, had a few pepper sprouts growing in it), so we left a few little worms and some cocoons behind, to finish it up. I feel bad sacrificing them, but I think we’ve rescued more by starting the new bin now.

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There was one casualty. Oliver snapped up a particularly adventurous worm before we could stop him. You should have seen him jump when it moved in his mouth!

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Comments

Pingback from Carnival of the Green # 196! – Gaiam Blog
Time September 14, 2009 at 3:06 pm

[…] Pike at Pragmatic Environmentalism breaks down how she started composting with worms, with some very detailed and informative instructions and […]

Comment from David P
Time October 5, 2009 at 11:34 am

Gah, I got the wrong end of the stick when I saw the first photo. I thought for a second you were putting your worms in a blender!! Luckily I was wrong and the rest of the blog produced no worm casualties… until the end. RIP, adventurous worm! You were the Magellan of your generation.

Comment from Erin aka Conscious Shopper
Time October 7, 2009 at 8:13 pm

How long did you have your worm bin before you harvested the compost? Just curious as I’m new to this vermicomposting thing!

Comment from Brenda Pike
Time October 7, 2009 at 8:33 pm

I think it was about a month and a half. We could definitely have waited longer, but we had a fly problem, and it seemed like the quickest, easiest solution. We haven’t touched the old compost bin since; we’re just waiting for the few remaining worms to process it some more. When we finally consider it “finished” I’ll let you know.

Pingback from An Explosion of Worms . . . and Flies « Pragmatic Environmentalism
Time November 18, 2009 at 11:16 pm

[…] haven’t been feeding—and were amazed to see that it’s full of worms. Huge ones, too! If you remember, we had separated the worms from this compost and started a new bin with them. We were quite […]

Pingback from Worm Update: No More Flies « Pragmatic Environmentalism
Time April 28, 2010 at 8:32 pm

[…] was “finished.” Now it’s really finished, maybe overly so. We’re going to pick the worms out and add them to the current bin. Once we get rid of the compost, we can start fresh and have two […]

Pingback from Pragmatic Environmentalism
Time September 7, 2010 at 9:47 pm

[…] One year ago: Harvesting Vermicompost. […]

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