Thursday, November 3, 2011

Harvest - Worm casts

A few weeks ago one of my Blogging friends, Leigh over at "5 acres and a Dream" asked me to give a step - by -  step on how I harvest worm casts. I made this the day to do that. As you can see from the above photo, the fog was pretty heavy this morning! But by 10 am or so the sun had burned off the fog and the worms were calling.
 The way I do this is, I stop feeding the worms at one end of the bed and I do not add any water there. I stop feeding a few weeks before I want to harvest and I also do not add very much bedding to that end of the bed.
In this photo you can see I have pulled the bedding back from the compost that nearly fills the bed. By placing food at the other end of the bed and adding a lot more bedding, the worms move  to where the food and bedding are. This takes a few weeks. And the compost at this end is pretty dry and viable. All I had to do then was shovel the casts into a wheel barrow and take it to the garden!
I placed the apple peels and cores from when I made apple sauce in there and the worms moved right in. They love this time of year, Apple and Pumpkin harvest! The above photo shows the remains of the Apple peels. You can see a few worms, But the major numbers are right down in the mess! Here let me pull some of that out of the way so you can see the little guys at work!
There they are! Just doing their wormy thing (making babies and producing CASTS!). As I got down near the bottom of the bed, I started to see some worms (it was wetter down near the bottom) and there were a lot of wire worms in there. That's the young guys and gals eating and growing until they too will start to lay eggs!

After I get the compost out, I put new food and bedding back into this end of the bed! And bedding is the one thing that you can not have too much of! BEDDING IS OUR FRIEND!!! I used a couple bales of rotten hay that I picked up at curb side in town a couple months ago. Its been sitting out by the bed's and has continued to break down. The advantage to this is that being on the ground and getting rained on, it has attracted other worms and thoes I found went into the beds with the rest.
Here is a hand full from the second bed. Sorry the photo is not very good (To close). Here, let me out them down and try for a better shot!
That's better! I placed them on a paving stone that I put on top of the bed cover to keep the wind from blowing it off!  there are a lot of them! I know that a lot of you out there name all of your animals, But there is no way I could keep all the name straight!
And this garden bed has been top dressed with worm casts and the holes you see are the garlic I planted today. Covered them up and tomorrow Mother Nature will water them in for me. Rain in the forecast!
And this is the second garden bed that I top dressed. As you can see there is one lone plant in there. Its a lettuce plant that decided to Wait until now to germinate . Do not know if it will make it or not. The night time temps are getting pretty low.
So Leigh, That's how I do It! What do you think? Not to hard!


  1. I was kind'a wondering how you got the good stuff without having to sift through bucket after bucket of worms/dirt/castings. I could just see myself picking out each worm & tossing it to the other side. Never though to just make it "uncomfortable" for them so they move to better quarters.

  2. You sure will have some amazing raised beds! How long does it take to get enough casings to make a difference in a standard sized raised bed (say, 4x8)?

  3. Thanks for the step by step! I have been wondering how to get the lovely castings out of our worm bin without taking all the worms out, too.

  4. What do I think? Tom, I think this is an excellent post! I laughed till I cried about naming (or should I say not naming) the worms.

    You certainly have made a very do-able science out of worm farming!

    One last question. Do you do anything to "winterize" your worm beds?

  5. Carolyn,
    The first time I harvested worm casts, that's how I did it! It took hours and I did not get nearly as much out of the bed as I did this time. By the way, this way was suggested by Bently over at RWC!

    This is only the second time I have done this and the first amount I got was used in my raised beds. The weeds loved it and was a bumper crop this year! The garden as a hole was pretty lackluster this year, but that was due to weather, bugs and my lack of my work in the garden.

    Prairie Cat,
    Welcome to my Blog! Your welcome! Yep this was a job that was so much easier then sifting through all that compost and worms! And took a lot less time! I went to your Blog and started reading from the begining (I do this with all the new Blogs I find!). I like it and will be back for more!

    Thanks! Bently has called me a "WORM HEAD"! And that is a compliment coming from him! As far as winterizing the beds, before the weather gets really cold, I had lots of bedding (Remember bedding is your friend!) and food gets buried deep into the bed! Last winter there was about 2" of frost on top of the bed, But the worms were "Playing and Working" deep under that. They do slow down in the lower temps, So I did not need to add as much food material to the beds as I do in Spring and Summer!
    And about naming them, Are there that meny names in english?