About 8 weeks after we began our first attempt at vermicomposting (worm composting) it’s already time for our first harvest!
- How did I know? The contents of the bin were rich black castings and the newspaper bedding was almost completely decomposed. Also, the worms were starting to climb the sides of the bin, clearly no longer satisfied with their accommodations.
- Preparation: Always feeling that I can improve on any instructions (a major character flaw I am afraid), I did not follow my original harvest plan. Instead I pushed all the bin contents over to one side, and set up a new area on the other side with damp brown paper shreds and food. I left the bin this way for about a week hoping that the worms would mostly migrate to the fresh, new side.
- Harvest Day: This is what the bin looked like when I opened it this morning. See the two sections? Old on the left – ready to go in the garden – and new on the right:
You’ll need newspaper, tub of water, and a bucket for the castings:
(Note: Cats are not a required item, although they felt they were.)
First I tore newspaper into 1 inch strips and tossed them in my tub of water to soak.
Next I began digging out some of the castings from the left side and I noticed that most of the worms had indeed migrated to the fresh section. It was mostly worm free until I got close to the border, then I had some sorting to do.
NOTE: I don’t mind worms, so I used my hands (the castings smell and feel rich and damp and clean, like the ground after a cool rain!). However, if you’d rather not handle the worms, you can try this method.
I spread each handful of castings on some newspaper and picked out the worms and any chunks of not quite composted newspaper or food. It was truly a glamorous job, but at least I felt fairly sure that most of my worms would end up back in the bin to keep up the good work. No garden vacations for my guys!
I returned the undigested material and any stray worms to the new side of the bin.
By the time I had finished, I had collected at least a gallon of gorgeous black worm compost:
and my bin looked like this:
- Redecorating: Finally, I spread out what remained in the bin, squeezed out my newspaper strips (really well so as not to drown the worms) and tossed them on top. I added a bit of fresh sand for their gizzards and some food for their tummies, assuming worms have tummies. I placed a fresh piece of damp cardboard on top to help keep things moist (the voracious little devils had completely eaten through their last one!) and put on the lid.
- The Garden: The hardest part of all this was deciding where to put my precious compost. I chose a climbing rose that I have had for about 4 years. It was the very first thing I planted when I moved into this house.
Much to my surprise, there was still plenty left over. I headed to my dismal back flower bed which grows ugly little stunted flowers due to poor soil, and gave it the rest. Will it all be 6 feet tall by tomorrow???