Harvesting My Vermicompost


A big ol’ tub of ‘black gold’, ready to be put to good use


For whatever reason, when I first built my backyard worm bin I was a little too intimidated to try adding a compost harvesting door. After all, it was a pretty major accomplishment for me to even be able to build such a bin (I’m no handy man), so I didn’t want to push my luck. Looking back, I just have to laugh since I now realize how simple it would have been to install the door at the time.

In some ways I am glad I didn’t install it however, since it might have tempted me to start harvesting the material a lot earlier, and I wouldn’t have the huge supply of it now – a time when I actually need it! As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, this year I am receiving large quantities of food waste from a local restaurant (going to finally write about that very soon), and I have also started my own composting business. As such, it only make sense that I should demonstrate the benefits of using vermicompost in my own gardens – something I really haven’t done up until now.


After cutting out the first panel I could see the rich vermicompost just begging to be harvested!


The actual process of making the harvesting door simply consisted of me cutting out two pieces of board, connecting them together, then re-attaching them with hinges. Easy peezy!

Aside from the heaps of beautiful compost in the bottom of the bin, I was blown away by how many little tiny (undoubtedly malnourished) Red Worms there were – so the benefits of harvesting were two-fold. I simply left the material out in the sun and gradually scraped away all the vermicompost while the worms continued to dig down. Eventually I was left with a big writhing mass of worms at the bottom. They all went into an indoor conditioning bin where they will be re-hydrated and fattened up with good food – I’ll likely end up with multiple times the weight in worms harvested when all is said and done. I’ve already noticed that the level of materials in the big indoor bin is going down very fast, so there must have been a LOT of worms.

By the way – I actually also found a couple of the European Nightcrawlers released into the bin after their (indoor) bin went sour. I didn’t think I’d ever see any of them again. I have little doubt that there are a bunch more in the vermicompost not yet harvested.


I made my compost door construction into a fun family event – ok, so my brother and nephew did all the work! 😆


It’s been really cool having so much vermicompost on-hand. I feel spoiled! At first I was very conservative with my use of it, since I’m so used to having small amounts produced in much smaller indoor worm bins, but I’ve gradually gotten used to the fact that I have a LOT – and plenty of great opportunities to put it to good use (I will talk about using worm castings in another post).

I suspect the mass of material in my big bin is going to start settling pretty soon, which as mentioned, will likely be the end of my compost bin crop of potatoes and tomatoes! The upside is that it will free up more space for fresh materials up above.

[tags]vermicompost, worm compost, compost, worm castings, composter, worm bin, compost bin, fertilizer, soil amendments, red worms, european nightcrawlers[/tags]

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Comments

    • Christine
    • July 4, 2008

    Do you leave worms in your outdoor bed in the winter time?? I live in Wisconsin and worry about having the worms freeze to death in the winter. How do you assure they wont all die from the cold?

    • Bentley
    • July 4, 2008

    Hiya Christine,
    I do indeed continue vermicomposting in the winter. I actually insulate the bin for the cold wintry months.
    Check out this page on one of my other sites to learn more:
    http://www.compostguy.com/winter-composting/

    B

  1. Rookie here! What does one do with the worms as the population grows (out grows) the bin?

    • Bentley
    • July 14, 2008

    Hi Renee,
    The best way to take advantage of your growing population is to simply start up new bins. Of course, you could give some worms to friends/family as well if you want to spread the word about vermicomposting.

    You can also do nothing, since the population can only grow as big as the size of the bin and food supply (among other things) allows.

    • Dwayne
    • July 27, 2008

    Bentley

    I left this post on Vermicomposter.com

    http://vermicomposters.ning.com/forum/topic/show?id=2094123%3ATopic%3A4637

    If you get a chance let me know what you think.

    Dwayne

    • Denise Mariski
    • July 17, 2009

    Can I just add the worms to my garden with the compost since I am finished?

    • Natalie
    • May 27, 2011

    I just harvested my mature system and the compost was very moist, sort of smelly and not completely broken down. I harvested by hand from my homemade plastic bin. Because of the smell I decided to just bury it at the edge of the yard to replenish fertility for next year, but didn’t want to use it in plants or as surface mulch. Do you have any suggestions for what I should do next time to get a product that looks more like yours here?

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