Saturday, September 3, 2011

Harvesting your castings: Part 3 of 3

After about six weeks, you will see worm castings (soil-like material that has moved through the worms' digestive tract.)  These castings are what gives the soil a boost in nutrition and makes your plants so happy!

After 3 to 4 months, it will be time to harvest all of your castings.  If you have kids, they'll love this part and want to help.  This is how you do it:

Empty the contents of your bin onto a plastic sheet / shower curtain outside on a sunny day.  Wait about 20 to 30 minutes.  All of the worms will be burrowing themselves deeper and deeper to avoid the light.  Scrape off the top layer of compost and put into a separate bucket.  Wait another 20 minutes or so and repeat again.  After several scraping, you will eventually come to clusters of worms.  Gently place them back into the bin with fresh bedding.  You may also come across "worm eggs" that are lemon shaped and the size of a match head.  Be careful - one of these eggs can have up to twenty baby worms in them, so put them back into the bin as well.  Be sure to put plenty of fresh bedding and new food scraps in your bin to have it "start again."

Mix the compost you have scraped off and collected into a bucket with potting soil or use as top dressing for your plants (indoors or outdoors) or in your garden. 

Keep in mind that your county's local extension office and /or Master Gardener has a wealth of knowledge regarding composting.  Feel free to contact them as well for additional advice.  Their contact information should be in your phone book or you can Google it as well. 

Get composting and make your plants happy!!

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