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Vermicompost Harvest – Not!

My worm composting bin 6-20

I have been waiting for dependably w arm weather to harvest my worm compost, vermicompost. Composting worms cannot survive when temperatures go below 50 degrees. The weather has been so unsettled this spring, first hot, then cold, and then hot again. Even when it has been very warm temperatures in Heath get cool, and the weatherman kept threatening 40 degree nighttime temperatures.  My basement, where the worms live for at least 8 months of the year is a steady 50 degrees. This is not optimum, but they survive.

We took the compost bin outside and dumped it onto a big piece of cardboard. There was none of the shredded newspaper that had been the original bedding of the bin, but some bits of rotted bread and fruit from the last feeding were visible.  We left it for an hour. The idea is that worms move away from the light and will migrate deep into the pile and you can skim off the vermicompost, then put the worms, which should have multiplied, back in the bin on fresh bedding.

Me and Henry and worms

We returned to the bin to actually begin the harvest. We found a few worms, but not many. We were perplexed. Then as we sifted through the compost, we  noticed  that it was full of tiny tiny worms. The babies were too tiny to get a good photo, but after passing around handfuls of compost to daughter Diane, grandson Ryan, and a friend who stopped by, we all agreed there were tiny wriggling worms in the compost. And very few big worms. However the big worms were in good enough shape to reproduce – lucky for us.

New bedding for worm bin

There was nothing to do except prepare the washed bin with fresh bedding made of newspaper strips soaked for three or four days.

Ryan and me

Ryan and I then put all the vermicompost, such as it was, and all the tiny tiny worms, and the few adults, back in the bin. The bin will remain outside on the north side of the house where it will not get too hot in the summer.  Worms can’t get too cold, but they can’t get too hot, over 90 degrees either.  My plan now is that I will do a harvest in the fall, before I have to bring the worms indoors. I will keep the vermicompost until next spring when I can use it on the earliest plantings.  We will see if these worms make it through another winter. I admit the only Heath person I know who had a thriving vermicompost bin kept it in the house – handy to the kitchen. I am not quite ready to do that.

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