Constant worm casting harvesting will guarantee the good health of your worms. Moreover, you will get the best organic manure when you harvest casts often.
If you are at a loss on how worm castings are harvested, we’ve got you covered.
However, before we get right into it, let’s talk about how you can become a vermicomposter.
How to Produce Worm Castings
So, how do you produce worm casts?
To start you off, you’ll need worm bins or boxes. Ensure your bins are shallow (about 8 to 12 inches deep) and drill drainage holes at the bottom.
When your boxes are ready, layer them with sand and newspaper strips at the bottom. You can then add manure, compost, or leaf litter over the strips. After this, add another layer of wet newspaper strips and soil. At this point, you’ll be ready to add some worms and garden or kitchen waste.
Tip: Keep your bin away from sunlight as worms won’t survive when under direct light. Also, if you don’t want to do all the hard work by yourself, you can get a head start by buying Simple Grow Soil castings.
Harvesting Your Worm Castings
How do you know when your worm casts are ready to be harvested?
You’ll know the casts are ready for harvesting when the contents of the bin have dropped a lot. The color of the vermicompost will also have turned into a dark earthy brown shade.
So, how do you harvest your vermicompost?
- Hand Harvesting
The hand harvest method is easy as you only need to grab a handful of castings from the bedding. However, since worms are a one-time investment and don’t come cheap, you may need to sort the worms from the castings.
Unfortunately, sorting 1,000 red wigglers from a pound of casting may not be a pleasant experience. Besides, this method is tedious if you need a lot of castings for your garden.
Nonetheless, some vermicomposters find sorting through the worms pleasant. Your children may also enjoy this work.
- Migration Method
Worms follow the feedings you give them.
Add a fresh layer of bedding on one side of your bin and food scraps. The worms will migrate to the area with food scraps and fresh bedding, leaving you with worm-free compost to harvest.
The advantage of this method is that you let the worms do all the work for you. If you find handling the worms queasy, this is an excellent method to harvest your castings. The downside is that you may have to wait 1-4 weeks for the worms to relocate.
- The Bait Method
The bait or the corralling method involves setting up a corral to encourage the worms to move from the vermicompost.
You can stop feeding your worms for a few days before setting up some decomposing food, such as a piece of watermelon or pumpkin, on the surface of your bin. The hungry worms will move at the top near the food source.
You can also use onion bags with some decomposing food and bury them on top of your vermicompost. Ensure there is no other food in the box. Wait for a few weeks and lift your onion bag filled with the worms, and use your worm-free compost.
- Relocation by Light
Worms don’t like the light. Therefore, you can take advantage of this fact when harvesting worm castings.
Place your vermicompost on a flat, stable surface and shine a light onto the surface or place the surface under direct sunlight. The worms will burrow away from the top and edges of the surface down through the surface. You can now scrape off the top vermicompost that doesn’t have worms.
However, ensure you don’t leave the worms too long in the sun as they won’t survive in such conditions.
- Use a Flow-through Bin
Flow-through bins make it easy to harvest worms as they have a grate that holds the bedding up. The bins also have an opening at the bottom that you can open during harvest.
As you put new food scraps at the top of the bin, the worms will move upwards, leaving their castings at the bottom. These castings will fall through the grate to the bottom of the container, where you can collect them.
- Use a Screen Harvester
A screen harvester separates the worms from the castings. The screen is made of a hardware cloth that is ¼ or 1/8 inch. The worms and compost go at the top, and as the screen spins, only the fine materials fall through. The screen will prevent the worms from passing through while other debris will exit at the trammel end.
Regular worm castings harvesting is not only good for your worm population but the plants too. The castings are made up of healthy nutrients and bacteria that are good for your growing plants.