Getting down and dirty with the worms

Green living is not always for the squeamish. At least not at our place. We had a glorious time recently, harvesting worm poop!

We’ve had a little worm compost setup for almost a year, and it’s a pretty low-key deal. During the winter, we keep them in our basement and forget about them for days at a time. Once in a while, they get some food (veggie scraps) and bedding (shredded newspaper), and that’s mostly all they need. Inside their buckets, they eat and reproduce and make castings. It’s a great way to compost if you have nowhere to put a pile or a barrel, and even though we do have a regular outdoor compost pile, we keep worms for their super-rich castings.

It had been a while since we harvested that black gold, so we spread out a tarp on a sunny day and went to work.

Beautiful, no?

The basic idea is to dump the bucket onto the tarp and spread out the contents. Since worms don’t like sun, they’ll dive down as far as they can, making it somewhat easier to separate castings from worms. Our castings were super-wet for some reason, so we really had to pick through with our fingers.

It was time-consuming but—and I don’t care if you think I’m a weirdo—quite enjoyable. These aren’t big shivery nightcrawlers; they’re small red wigglers. Sorting carefully through the bucket, we found tiny baby worms, medium-sized adolescent worms, and places where the adults were seemingly having parties, all balled up together. Worms and unfinished food went back in the bucket; castings into a bag. Thanks, worms!

The bucket now had a few inches of worms and food in the bottom.


We added some fresh food…


 …and some bedding.


And then we took this nice big bag of worm poop straight out to the garden.

Anyone else keeping worms? Anyone using one of the easier methods for harvesting the castings?

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