Step 9 in How to Vermicompost
How to Harvest Vermicompost
Now that your bin is full of compost, it is time to harvest it. Your kitchen waste has turned into beautiful, soft, and rich black gold. And your worms are out probably running out of food and space.
Note: Worms will multiply quickly and can double their population every 2 or 3 months (in good conditions). Once the worms max out their space, they will start to die off as they reproduce. When this happens, you have a few choices:
- Give worms away to friends to start their own bins.
- Start additional bins in your home.
As far as harvesting compost goes, this process consists essentially of simply separating the compost from the worms.
There are several ways of harvesting the compost:
Collect the compost by scraping 1 inch off the top of the bin at a time. The worms will burrow down as you remove compost from the top. To get them to move quicker, shine a bright light (not sunlight) over the top of the bin. As you work, watch for stragglers and pick them out as you go. Place the worms temporarily in a small container as you continue to sort.
If you notice any egg cocoons, you will want to separate those also, since they will each yield several worms later. Once you get most of the compost out, put the worms and cocoons back. Then add some food, and replace and restock the bedding to start the process again.
Move all the compost to one side of the bin, and place food on the other. Make sure all the food is buried, and replace the lid. After about a week, the worms should all be concentrated around the food. Simply leave the food and worms, and scoop out the compost (watching for cocoons). Restock the bedding and begin again.
Spread the compost out over a plastic sheet (such as an old shower curtain). Sort through the pile, moving the compost to one side, and the worms and cocoons to the other.
Use the compost as a soil additive or fertilizer. It's pretty potent, so you will want to mix it at a ratio of 1 part vermicompost to 4 parts soil. Or place a thin layer over the top of the soil, and it will be watered into the soil.
See other ways of improving soil.
Note: the advice and information contained herein is based upon our experience and study. As with any advice, please apply at your own discretion.