Harvesting Compost

October 1st, 2011

 I am so proud of my worms! They do an amazing job! Here are some pics of my harvest process! On a beautiful sunny day, I spread several layers of  newspaper on a table. I gathered a spoon and a container to collect the worms and a bucket for the castings.  Because I had a full bin I scooped a a container of the castings from the bin and dumped it on the newspaper. Every 10 minutes or so I gently scraped away the compost/castings on the outside of the pile. The worms go away from the light into the center of the pile.  Eventually I end up with a large squiggly pile of worms! I scoop the harvested compost/castings into the bucket,  spread  a  1″ layer on the soil of my potted plants, and take the rest to the garden. 

In between the scraping, I prepare the bin by wiping it out and making new bedding – lightly damp shredded newspaper. I then carefully dump the worms back into the bin, give them some fresh vegie scraps and cover all with the layer of damp shredded paper. You can use the newspaper you used on the table for your harvest as bedding, too.  Those little critters are soon back at work transforming it all back into fertile soil! In 3-4 months I will do it again! ( In the winter, I will save the castings in my metal garbage can with the old potting soil from this summer’s gardening.)

Connection with Nature, Energy, Environment, Food, Waste Prevention, Water quality & conservation ,

  1. Kim Miller
    | #1

    I would like to share my composting experience. I attended the Iowa Master Gardener fall training sessions in 2009. I was very interested in composting. I received a compost bin for my birthday and with quick assembly started adding items to the bin. I asked office staff to save fruits, vegetables, egg shells and used coffee grounds also. This items are placed in marked re-used ice cream buckets. Every couple of weeks, I take the buckets home to add to the compost bin on the edge of my vegetable garden. Last fall/winter (2010) acorn squash seeds and rinds were added to the bin. By June 2011, the compost was sprouting, so I thinned the plantings and by August these vines were blooming into squash. I started another compost bin so the vines could grow and grow they did. I harvested over 12 squash and shared with local Master Gardeners and office staff. Now that compost bin will be incorporated into my vegetable garden with spring tilling. I look forward to what next year’s season will produce.

  2. Brenda Schmitt
    | #2

    I harvested my castings this past weekend. Learned a lesson. Here at the end of the growing season, we have been eating a lot of juicy fruits and vegetables which means there has been a lot going into the compost bin as well. When I went to harvest castings and start my worms with fresh scraps, I was alarmed at the water in the bottom of my bin. I was afraid all my worms had drown. They hadn’t. They were all huddled together above the high-water mark. I will remember this in the future -juicy scraps will breakdown and create too much liquid in the worm’s environment.

  3. kcoop
    | #3

    Kim,
    Do you spread and till the compost in this fall or spread it and till in the spring?
    Kristi

  4. kcoop
    | #4

    Brenda,
    I have holes in the bottom of my compost bin and a tray underneath so the extra moisture can drain from the castings. I too had some really juicy scraps this fall with peelings from canning pears and peaches. You can use the ‘juice’ as compost tea, diluting it with water and using it to water your plants this fall. It is full of great nutrients and helpful bacteria.
    Kristi

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