Harvesting Red Worms

Hi everybody!

I’ve been doing some research lately. In this video I test if I can harvest hatched worms out of the finished vermicompost. The second project is taking those babies and starting THREE new plastic bins. I want to start a 4th but, haven’t decided yet. I am running out of room and don’t want to overdo it too much. In two of the bins which are in the house, one has more greens than browns and the other has more browns than greens.

The one with more browns seems to stay moist longer. I have been also using a secret food amendment.

I’ll let you know about that later, I haven’t decided if I like it or not.

Send those comments or questions!


‘Mark from Kansas’ is an avid vermicomposter from…well…Kansas, and contributing author here at Red Worm Composting. When he is not tending to his OSCR worm bin, Mark also enjoys spending time with his wife Letty (who also doubles as his trusty vermicomposting assistant) and picking petunias (ok, Bentley just made that last bit up).

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    • jean kruse
    • March 1, 2010

    Mark, you mentioned the 75 # of vc you harvested out of your oscr- did you take that out of the bottom of your bin or did you just harvest some from one side or something?

    • Iker
    • March 1, 2010

    Hey that’s a lot of babies and very good looking VC. I wish I had that many worms! They’re just kind of expensive here in Mexico, so I’ll have to wait. What’s the moisture content of that VC? Mine looks wetter. Thanks for the video

  1. Hi Iker and Thank You!
    The moisture content is about 70% the last time I checked. I use one of those probe type moisture meters, I’m not sure how accurate it is. The VC I have left over from the summer/fall still has never dried out. I have a lid on it with air holes and kept it inside.

    Gracias por escribir y espero que su bandeja de hace bien!


    • andy
    • March 2, 2010

    Quick question, Mark. Why do you have the inside of your OSCR bin lined with a tarp? I haven’t been able to find any information that you have regarding this

  2. Hey Mark,
    That VC looks good, and that is what I have been doing to harvest too, though I move my VC into cardboard boxes for that stage. The cardboard seems to absorb some of the moisture. Keep us updated on your great progress, and I look forward to your mystery ingredient!

  3. Thanks Heather,
    I like the plastic bin for this, seems to hold moisture the way I want it. As for the secret ingredient, noboby has asked yet.

  4. Well…while you are certainly always a mellow guy with a cool head and even temper, you don’t seem the type to have anything illegal!…so I will guess alfalfa or alfalfa cubes or pellets (that you feed to livestock)? If I am right, that would add a nice complement to the nutrients of the VC.

  5. Heather,
    You are winner!
    I happen to come across some pellets which I thought you and some others have been using in your trenches. So, I thought “what the heck, I’ll mix some with some horse manure,add some water, let it sit and see what happens”. It seemed OK so I tossed in 12 pounds of it in the bin. Everything was OK, I was worried about protein poisoning and no reported bloat.
    The funniest thing happened though, The feed that was left over I brought in the house (about 20 pounds), when I took the holding bin out of the closet (I keep it in the closet because the blue bin doesn’t match the colors of the fireplace room) after two days, I noticed the holding bin was HOT! 85 degrees F.
    Uh, lets see, a 50% increase in heat means… Crap I need to make a mad scramble to my bin! Worms are good, the worm bed only went up 4 degrees F due to the forced air. I would not do that in a small bin, it’s because of the size of the bin with the forced air that I avoided tragedy. On the other hand, I think I found a heat source and get away from electric heat. I did go ahead and add some cardboard, just in case.

  6. Good thing it didn’t overheat the big bin! I haven’t used those pellets, as I am really trying hard to only use recycled waste (except some horticultural molasses to create winter hot composting in the trenches to produce heat) –but if I found some, I sure would try out the pellets–in moderation. I think finding natural sources of composting heat–poultry litter in moderation, molasses, alfalfa cubes, etc. is a good way to bypass the electric or gas heat in the winter. I guess we will all keep experimenting–I just hate the thought of “doing in” some worms at the expese of an experiment! You and Bentley are WAAAY braver than I am, in that regard.

    I am hoping spring will finally start to peak through sometime soon–I am totally over this winter season!

  7. Hi Andy,
    The sides of the bin are made of plywood. Due to the high moisture content of the bin, I put one of those cheap plastic tarps in as a liner.
    The tarp was inexpensive and hopefully will extend the life of the bin.

    • Jeff from Ohio
    • March 5, 2010

    Hi Mark,

    Do you think it is possible to operate an OSCR system without having access to electricity? Could a person add new food waste to keep it warm enough to have worms survive an Ohio winter? I would have the OSCR inside an unheated lawn shed to protect against the wind,snow, etc. Or would a solar panel on the roof of the shed be the way to go?


    HS Chemistry Teacher in Ohio

  8. Hi Jeff,
    Nice to hear from another Buckeye. That’s a hard question to answer. It is always my opinion that I always start small. The flow through bin I have, started out as a much smaller version. Then I went to the bigger bin. The reason for the bigger bin is I had a pretty good idea what I would be doing with all the VC I would generate. I also had a plan in place to FEED all those guys. You being a science teacher might be the guy that figures out the exact carbon/nitrogen ratio for outdoor use. I am working on a similar project myself but, it super secret. I may have left some clues along the way.
    Vermicomposting is also a good teaching tool in the classroom.
    In a nation of shrinking school budgets, your school maybe eligible for state and federal grants for the purpose of some sort of recycling project. The Ohio State University and Clive Edwards have been doing vermicompost research for quite a few years now.

    • Michael Allen
    • March 7, 2010

    Can you have a area to list all food for the worm, and the stuff not to.

  9. Hey Michael,
    Bentley (the creator of this website) put together some really good info.
    Try this: https://www.redwormcomposting.com/getting-started/
    and this:


    • Michael Allen
    • March 7, 2010

    But doesnt say molases is a worm aphrodesiact

    • Steve K
    • May 27, 2010


    love the video and all the comments you have provided on Bentley’s site. May I was just imagining it, but did you almost say “this is Mark from Ohio” at the end there? I just moved to VA a coupld of years ago after going to OSU, so I have trouble telling people where I am from. thanks again for sharing your experience with us newbies. Go Bucks!


    • anne zimmerman
    • February 11, 2013

    Thanks so much for the instruction; we’ve decided to compost with worms for two reasons: one, we love gardening organically and two, thru a school project we were faced with the amount of waste we produce! We are committing to reducing our footprint, and part of that will go to feed our vegetables!
    Thanks again; love the bins- I already have them! I’m going to order some worms….

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