Harvesting Compost

Today we harvested the compost from the worm bin. We did a partial harvesting of the compost some weeks ago, but it seemed time to clean it out more thoroughly. The bin was getting too damp and there wasn’t a lot of uneaten bedding left. We scooped the compost out into a mound on a drop sheet and let it sit to give the worms time to burrow down out of the light. While we were doing this we picked out some of the old wet newspaper to go into an outdoor compost.

harvesting-castings
How we harvest our compost: a drop sheet, spoons (and hands). Worms and some of the old bedding go back into the bin with new shredded damp newspapers; compost goes onto the plants or into an outdoor compost bin to finish breaking down.

We began using our hands to carefully lift away the top layers of the compost one handful at a time. The worms only go down an inch or so to get away from the light, so there were usually several worms caught up in each handful, which had to be picked out and put back in the bin. The compost went into a pail. Slowly, slowly, we worked our way down, until at the bottom we were left with a big double-handful of wriggling Red Wigglers.

A mass of Red Wiggler worms.
The mass of worms left once most of the compost has slowly been removed. I picked a lot of worms out of the handfuls of compost I was taking off, too!

They weren’t very happy, having nothing left to hide under! We put them back in the bin with some food and some new damp newspaper. We tried to have it drier this time, because the moisture from the food will add to the dampness. We were getting a lot of compost mites and keeping it a little drier should cut down on those (we hope).

A pail half-full of worm-casting compost.
The harvested worm castings in late August 2017. There’s some bedding (shredded newspaper) that hadn’t broken down yet in there too.
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