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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Introducing the Red Wigglers

Today we received a container of worms from Ook’s friends the Murray family and introduced them to our worm bin. They came with some nice compost of their own to get started with.

Worms in compost with cocoons.
Our worms arrived with some of their very own compost.

Here they are in their new bin, ready to start eating our apple cores and banana peels.

worms-spoon
Slightly out of focus! Here the worms are going into their bin.

Thanks to the Murrays for giving us the worms to get us started!

The Worm Project

We’re starting a new STEAM project in the library — vermicomposting! Soon we’ll be home to a bin of wriggling red wiggler worms (Eisenia foetida). We’ve been getting ready by preparing our worm bin.

The worm bin and a worm pail.
Getting ready for our worms.

Ook hopes they like their bedding. We have coarsely-shredded newspaper, a little old potting soil, a bit of mud, some old leaves and flower petals, and a couple of apple cores and banana peels to get them started.

Damp shredded newspaper bedding.
Damp shredded newspaper bedding.

We froze the apple cores and banana peels first, because that’s supposed to kill any fruit fly eggs or larvae.
Here’s what the bin looks like in the library.

The worm bin lid.
The worm bin.

I hope the worms will be happy!
Thanks to Lindsey Murray for giving us some worms to get started with.