Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Worms Eat My Garbage, But Now What?

Keeping up two worm bins was a great idea in theory due to the amount of kitchen scraps we produce weekly, but the homemade worm bin was always a bit too wet due to the too many holes on top of the lid and because it was plastic. Since I didn't have a good way to drain water from the bin, I'd often use a turkey baster to suck up all the worm tea. Gross.

So, now we are back to one worm bin with stackable layers. Before I could consolidate the bins, I had to empty out one of them and separate the worms from the casings. Oh, if only this was as easy as separating the wheat from the chaff! Using Mary Appelhof's book as a guide, I made several sticky, smelly worm piles and waited. The worms are light sensitive, so the theory is that they will retreat into the piles and I can take some casings off the top and sides. The newly exposed worms will retreat some more, and I take more casings off the top and sides. Repeat again 15 minutes later. Eventually, I should be left with pure worms. Well, the obstinate worms never retreated far enough for me to shave more than a centimeter of casings from the piles, and after a couple of hours, I gave up and tossed most of the contents into the communal worm bin. It felt like a waste of a rare, sunny afternoon.

Now, I'm reading Christopher Shein's permaculture book that mentions rinsing the worms from the casings and collecting the worm tea as an easy casing collection method. This sounds like a better idea, but I guess I have to use screen door mesh? It sounds like an unpleasant experience for the worms, but afterwards I'll reward them with new bedding and more food.

Does anyone out there have a preferred method for separating the worms from their casings?


  1. You never fail to intrigue and entertain me! I don't even compost that often, but we have tons of kitchen scraps because I do cook from scratch most of the time, and we eat lots of vegetables. I seriously was thinking that this fall I wanted to get serious with the composting and, of course, also "raise" some worms. I'm going to see if our library has the Christopher Shein book.

    1. Aw, thanks! Yes, do start a compost bin. Like all of us, I bet you get a lot of junk mail and have other paper waste that you can shred. I used to recycle all of that paper waste, but the Christopher Shein book recommends using it in your compost. That's even better than recycling! I've been shredding my paper waste and adding it to our compost bin now.



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