An email from Roberta:
I have had my worm factory for nine months, and I have taken out
castings with very few worms successfully from the bottom shelf twice
this spring. Now, I have castings and way too many worms in the bottom
shelf. If I stop putting food in the top shelf, and wait until all the
food is eaten, and put on another shelf, I still have too many worms,
who just go down to the bottom and wait for I don’t know what. There
are mites. I am ready to take them all outside.
I have put new shelves on the top and followed all the directions, but
perhaps, there are too many worms trying to get there, and they get
tired of waiting their turn, so they just camp out in the the lowest
shelf or thevery bottom and wait to die or go into my garden and get
out of their jail…
For starters, you might want to have a look at the post I wrote about harvesting vermicompost from my WF-360 system:
Worm Factory 360 | 3-02-12. I used an approach suggested by Kate from Nature’s Footprint (the Worm Factory folks), and it worked great!
Rather than waiting for the worms to move up on their own, you can simply force them down into one of your working trays by putting the vermicompost-filled tray on top of one of your other trays (containing bedding/food), then shining a bright light over top and gradually scraping off the compost. I was able to harvest the bottom tray very quickly this way, and was amazed to see how well the worms cooperated. Other than cocoons, and perhaps the odd small worm, the harvested material was essentially worm-free.
You MAY also want to thin out your herd a bit if it seems like there are “too many”. Perhaps a friend or family member might be interested in starting vermicomposting, or you have a backyard bin you could add them to? (just a couple of possibilities)
Hope this helps!