Worm Composting 101

Harvesting Worm Compost

The final product of worm composting is referred to as the vermicompost or vermicast. This is the mixture of the decomposed organic matter and worm castings. The quality and texture of the final product will depend on the kind of kitchen waste used for composting. Some may be extremely wet whereas others may be wet in moderation. The main purpose of vermicomposting is not only to utilize kitchen waste but to also produce the compost that can be used in the garden. Red wiggler worms work on the organic matter and transform it into useful compost that provides essential nutrients for plants.

It takes approximately 3 to 6 months for red worms to work on kitchen waste and transform it into compost. This duration refers to the time from initial setup to the day the compost is harvested. The ready compost looks like crumbly chocolate cake and will smell earthy and fresh. You can use a sieve to remove debris from the compost if you need a debris-free vermicompost. If you are not comfortable touching worms with your bare hands, use vinyl or latex gloves when harvesting the compost. Nonetheless, you can touch worms with your bare hands since they are harmless per say. Worms dislike light and you will realize they move away when you are adding new waste, harvesting the compost, or changing the bedding. Once you are done working on the worm bin ensure you clean your hands thoroughly using soap.

About Compost Harvesting

Vermicompost harvesting simply involves the removal of the finished compost from the wormery. Too much compost in the bin will make the worm environment unhealthy and unbearable and that is why it should be harvested once it is ready. The castings should be harvested at least twice every year.

Various methods are used for separating worms from the compost. However, some worms are lost during the harvesting process. That is why it is prudent you ensure you remain with sufficient number of worms for restocking once you are done. Those who do not separate the worms from the compost can still use the compost in the usual way but the worms in the usable compost shall ultimately die.

Harvested compost can never be 100% free from worms, old beddings, or food waste. You will find a number of worms within the compost and these substances as well. This is perfectly normal. If the vermicompost will be used indoors such as indoor plants then it is better to remove all the worms from the compost. On the other hand, if you use the compost outdoors then there is a higher probability that the worms will survive.

Some of the compost harvesting methods include:

  • Dump and sort-the contents are laid out on the sun or bright light, divided into small piles and left for 20 minutes. Since worms do not like light they will move away and gather at the center of the pile. The compost is then brushed off from the top of each pile.
  • Bait and switch-involves inducing the worms to migrate to one side of the bin. Fresh bedding is added to one side and the other side left to dry. The worms will automatically move to the new bedding. The old compost is then taken away.
  • Scoop and return-this is the simplest method. It involves taking out the top third of the bin which contains bedding, undigested food waste, and the worms. The remaining part is then taken for use in the garden.

The harvested compost from the worm farm can be used as organic fertilizer on your indoor plants or applied to an outdoor garden.

 

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