Thursday, February 24, 2011

Shaker-style worm harvesting

Moving on, a simple inexpensive tool for harvesting your worms and castings is a framed screen. I recommend using "hardware cloth" with 1/8" holes. This separates most of the baby worms as well as the bigger ones. It also gives you a more pure worm castings product.

Make your screen with slightly larger dimensions than those of your wheelbarrow. You can place the screen on the edges of your wheelbarrow to load worm material onto. Then simply move the frame back and forth so that the castings fall into the wheelbarrow and the worms and unfinished material stay on top of the screen.

One thing to keep in mind with this method is that your material must be dried to a point where the worms are still fine and the material is crumbly and damp. This will allow the castings and vermicompost to separate. The worms and material left on top of the screen is then added to the fresh bedding. When the process is completed, you should end up with a wheelbarrow full of high quality worm casts and compost that is ready to add to your garden!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Hill and Sort Method

The hill and sort method is a bit time-consuming. But for the home worm bin enthusiast, it works well.
**Empty the contents of your bin onto a table covered in plastic or a light-colored vinyl tablecloth. **Place a bright light over the material.
**Now separate into small hills and scoop off the tops repeating the procedure every 20 minutes.
**The worms will continuously dive away from the light until all that’s left are the worms in a small amount of the compost. Place them into your freshly prepared bedding and start recycling again. There will still be some worms left in the separated compost. You may decide to dry your vermicompost  enough to enable you to sift it through a screen collecting the remainder of worms.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Bedding For Worm Bins

We have loads of choices of materials we can use in worm bins. First though, lets go over the worm's requirements:

*Composting worms are surface dwellers. This means their living environment is oxygen rich and fairly loose.
*Worms take in air through their skins and to do this requires that they live in consistently moist material. So, the bedding must hold moisture.
*A worm bin is generally a small space for a large number of worms to live. There can be nothing in the material that would distress your worms as they would have nowhere to go to get away from the irritant.
*Worms use the equivalent of a gizzard to process nutrients. So, include small amounts of grit or sand in any bedding.

The bedding material, while being light and fluffy, should also have enough substance so that you can bury your garbage and cover it knowing that you are not attracting unwanted pests and that no odors escape.

Materials that fit the bill:

*Coconut coir
*Peat Moss (although this is not a renewable resource)
*Aged sawdust
*Shredded newspaper (mix this with compost to avoid matting) avoid color pages as the inks may be toxic
*Compost, choose organic but avoid compost containing cotton burr (I do not know why this is an irritant)
*Shredded leaves
*Cardboad (combine with compost)
*Grit should be added in small amounts with any bedding

If your goal is to keep the worms in a "natural" habitat, compost and shredded leaves is the answer and don't forget the grit.If you don't have the time and/or materials to make up a natural bedding, we provide worm bedding on our site that meets all of the worms' and the worms' owners needs. It comes as close to a natural habitat for the worm as we can make it.