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.

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.

Worms: A Progress Report

How are our worms doing? They’re still alive! That’s good.

Are they happy? They haven’t crawled out to seek fame and fortune elsewhere, so I suppose they must be.

Are they eating up all their yummy apple cores? They get three apple cores a week from the library manager’s lunch. We don’t have very many worms, so we don’t want to over-feed them. So far there’s at least one of last week’s apple cores left, but we can’t find the banana peel, so maybe they ate that first. (No, they don’t really gobble it up with their little teeth. Worms don’t have teeth! They wait for it to get nice and mushy.)

We also found a melon or squash seed that had germinated. It must have come with the compost the worms were in. We planted it in with one of our geraniums. Perhaps we’ll grow a squash this summer!

Our friend E. says chubby worms are the best. I’m not sure if our worms are chubby. They look rather thin to us. Maybe they need to eat more.

We haven’t seen any baby worms, but we hope they’re down there somewhere.

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.