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June 22nd, 2009

You are currently browsing the articles from Red Worm Composting written on June 22nd, 2009.

Turbo Light Harvesting Method

Recently, I wrote about David L’s tub harvesting method, and mentioned my ‘modified version’ of the light harvesting method (promising to write about it soon). I managed to make a video about this on Friday, with the intention of sharing it with you before the weekend – but these darn things take SO LONG to upload!

Oh well – it’s always nice to have something to write about on Monday…

I apologize for the video kinda getting cut off at the end – I needed to keep it under 10 min and my memory card ended up filling just before the 10 min mark anyway. I also wanted to point out that the green bottle off to the right hand side is not a beer bottle (lol) – it is in fact a fruit fly trap I made a long time ago (haven’t had issues with these pests for quite some time)…honest!

In a nutshell (for those who want a quick synopsis), my ‘turbo’ light harvesting method involves the use of two shallow tubs, a table and a bright flourescent light fixture. The one tub is the ‘holding tub’ and contains material with high concentrations of worms. The other tub sits empty most of the time and is where the actual harvesting takes place. Basically, after I’ve let the worms munch away in their holding bin for a few days, I can start to transfer fairly small amount of material (with loads of worms in it) at a time over to the one end of the empty tub. The worms head down (away from the light) and I start scraping away vermicompost until I get to the bottom where there is a dense concentration of worms.

Rinse, and repeat…

For those of you thinking about doing this with a regular worm bin, simply dump the contents of the bin into the holding tub and let it sit for a few days. This will allow some time for the wet, anaerobic stuff to dry out (and become aerobic). As is the case the with the regular light harvesting method, it’s not all that much fun when the material you are trying to harvest is soaking wet.

Speaking of which, it is important to mention that the type of material you are trying to separate the worms from can have a major impact on the speed of this method. I’ve been using a really nice bedded horse manure (containing small wood chips) as of late and it has really helped to speed up the harvesting. Manure + straw for example takes a lot longer to work through, as will the contents of a regular home worm bin if you don’t let it mature for long enough and/or remove the bulky (undigested) stuff ahead of time.

The cool thing about this method is that it offers more than a means of transferring worms to a new bin. This way you are able to concentrate worms as well – especially useful for anyone interested in selling them.

As I suggest in the video, it really helps to use the light to your advantage – rather than getting to the point where you are basically picking the worms out (time consuming!!) prior to hitting the serious concentration at the bottom, simply loosen up the material a bit, which lets in more light, then step away from the task for a little while. I like to do a bunch of different things while I am harvesting so as to limit the amount of time spent picking worms.

Obviously, I’m not suggesting that this is a great way to harvest large quantities (5 lb+) of worms, but it has certainly served me well for my small worm biz up here in Canada (not to sound like a broken record, but again, this is totally separate from the worm business based here on the RWC website, which relies on large-scale U.S. worm farmers with real equipment! haha ).

Written by Bentley on June 22nd, 2009 with 7 comments.
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