Compost Tumbler worms - Sorting and Saving?

wlai(Z8, Seattle, WA)April 25, 2010

Last year I started composting in a compost tumbler, but had to shut it down as the temp got low. I just took a look at the inside and it's teaming with worms! Are these worms likely the type that's used for Vermicomposting? I'd like to start a worm bin for educational purposes for the kids.

If they are, how do I separate them from the damn, cold compost? Do you just have to go thru it by hand? If they aren't the vermicompost worms, I supposed I can just movie them out to the garden , right?

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> Are these worms likely the type that's used for Vermicomposting?

There is no way to know what species they are, but if they are living in composted organic matter, then you probably have some type of composting worms.

You live in Seattle. In Seattle composting worms are pretty common in the soil.

> If they are, how do I separate them from the damn, cold compost?

You might not. I think you use the compost as your initial bedding, worms and all.

> Do you just have to go thru it by hand?

That may be your only other option. Any attempt to get them to migrate to a more hospitable environment isn't likely to work, since partially finished compost is about the best food/bedding you can provide for them.

If you are really determined to remove them from the compost, you would have to use light to drive them out. spread some compost on a tarp where it will be exposed to light. The worms will migrate down away from the light. Take a thin layer of compost off the top, and continue the process.

But really, they are already in excellent bedding/food. If you want to use them to create a bin, take them compost and all.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2010 at 1:18AM
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I agree with the above post 100% and I'm not normally a happy camper. The reason to vermicompost and not use the tumbler is the quality of the compost or vermicastings. They are pebbly. They retain nutients and mosture to give to the plants when needed. They also contain secret, magic elves, faires and dust that help seedlings in many ways. Mostly I think they have been tested to kill the bad guys that cause damping off. I have seen this last year as my seedlings sat in ponds of water for months on end in the rain. They should of died if they were in regular potting soil. Zero damping off and I don't know why. Thank somebody the compost is cold because hot compost kills worms.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2010 at 2:56AM
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Wow, this is really interesting to me. I posted a question concerning worms in a tumbler previously but got no answer. I don't have a tumbler but do pile composting in simple fence wire enclosures and have considered buying a tumbler. What did you put in your tumbler to begin with that would have caused this proliferation of worms? Of course, we live in very different environments. The compost would freeze solid in a normal Wisconsin winter and no worms would survive.

By the way, Seattle is my favorite big city.

Dave Nelson

    Bookmark   April 25, 2010 at 8:33AM
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I populated an outdoor worm pit with worms found while harvesting my cold-compost pile and others, found under a pile of aged horse manure. They are composting/increasing like champs and they are fun to tend/watch plus the vermicompost does wonders with my garden.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2010 at 11:06AM
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wlai(Z8, Seattle, WA)

Thanks everyone for the response! I didn't even think about starting a worm bin with the compost and all, but that totally make sense now that I think about it.

All I "did" was to be lazy, as I just left the compost material in the bin since last winter, and didn't touch it till just last week. The worms must have come from worms or eggs that was in the soil, as I just threw in the fall garden trimmings in the bin.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 2:02AM
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Vermicastings have special properties that just plain compost does not. It locks in the nutrients for the plants and makes them accesable to plant roots. And keeps nutrients from washing away. Sort of like Compost Plus.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 2:06AM
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