I Just Can't Wait For Vermicastings

equinoxequinoxMay 26, 2010

When you need Vermicastings Yesterday sieving is the answer. I hold a plastic basket by the handles in a 5 gallon bucket. It has holes 1/2 by 1 inch (although I wish it was 3/4 by 3/4 inch. Partial basket full by partial basket full I sieve the vermicompost. The big stuff is mostly bedding and goes back on top of the bin for another round also innoculating additions and doing a super job of balancing the bin. Letting the huge amount of worms that fell with the smaller stuff which fell through really multiply how fast it is worked.

This takes only a few minutes.

Sieve to the tune of "I Just Can't Wait to Be King"

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Sounds interesting, but are you sure your getting castings and not just semi-finished compost? I think I'll give your method a try later in the day.

Dave Nelson

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 8:55AM
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Semi-finished compost would probably be more accurate.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 9:13AM
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I sifted out over a 1/2 gallon of very nice castings from each of my kitty litter bins yesterday. I used a 1/2 inch screen for the intial screening. Mainly that broke up the bedding a little. I had found a plastic collander at Target for like $3 a few weeks ago. The largest holes in the collander are 1/4 in around the top with the lower holes about 1/8 in.

I'd put a couple handfulls at a time and shake the collander really tumbling the compost. I know I returned a fair amount of castings that did not break loose from the bedding but I was very pleased with the quality of the castings I did get. I want to make my next batch of tea from ONLY something that had passed through a worms intestines rather than compost.

It was alot of work though. I really need to get off my butt and build a flow thru. I'll still sift the stuff but it will save time and effort.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 12:46PM
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Would it be better to have 1/4 inch holes through out the sieve? I have not found one for sale. Maybe drill the other holes bigger? Double sieving like you did would seem better than trying to do it all at once.

"returned a fair amount of castings that did not break loose from the bedding" Luckily we have abundant enough material to do that with. It can't hurt anything. It may help a great deal with the new material. Sort of a bit of the dog that bit ya.

"build a flow thru" We are finding that although wonderfully fantastic and eating a lot of material a flow thru does not have layers of doneness as we would expect but simply not done yet on top and evenly done is all the rest, with all the prime food eaten. So it might not help with the sieving.

In the olden days I remember gardeners brewing with animal manure. And I almost remember gardeners brewing with regular compost. Anybody else can remember way back when?

I would like 1/4 inch sieve just to see the beautiful castings but don't think I need it for growing seedlings. And no sieve has appeared, but I keep looking.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 5:02PM
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I remember the video that somebody posted (maybe Borderbarb) where a guy from gourmetstrawberries had built a harvesting system. He used a crank to turn bars that had screws to pull the lower levels of VC down into his collection tray. He used precomposted material for food and still had to sift his compost to get 'clean' castings for his casting tea.

Thinking about that- Sbryce how has your harvesting with the PVC rods worked out? Any adaptions/changes you would recommend? I just returned from the hardware store with the supplies I need to build a flowthrough.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 6:09PM
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I do quadruple sieving. First I sieve the worms from the castings. Next I sieve out the largest material (primarily, shredded cardboard mixed with castings that didn't get totally processed). Instead of returning it to the bin; I use it as mulch in my planters.
Finally I have two flour-type sifters. The larger one allows cocoons to fall through. The last one is an actual flour sifter - It only allows the finest stuff to pass.

I'm presently working on two ideas: Attaching a motor to the sifters to speed things up.

A pick-up tool for cocoon harvesting.


    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 7:47PM
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pjames, the bedding in my flowthrough is only 12 inches deep. I have not harvested yet. The mechanism in my FT is a lot like the one you described. I was keeping quiet about it at first, because I thought I had a unique idea that I was hoping to exploit. Now I'm keeping quiet about it because I don't know how well it is going to work.

One thing I am learning is that even though a FT can process a lot of food, feeding a lot all at once can cause the bin to heat up. I am on the third of the last four feedings that has heated up. That slows things down a bit because the worms won't get near the food until the bin cools off.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2010 at 1:51AM
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Sbryce. I figured you were using that mechanism from comments you had made. I'm also thinking 2 inch centers on the rods since the screws will pull (hopefully) the finshed stuff down.

I'm surprised your bin is not totally full of castings by now. I harvested my liter buckets the other day getting about a 1/2 gallon of very nice castings from each. And that was after only 2 weeks. I really wanted the castings for tea for my garden so I went ahead and did all the work to sift them out out.

I can't figure out why your bin tends to heat so much. You might feed a litle more often or instead of mixing the food with the paper or cardboard bedding, layer it instead. 1 inch of paper (it will mat down) then a little food.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2010 at 9:25AM
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After someone posted a link to the video, I pretty much said that my mechanism was the same. Rather than just screws, I am trying a flat surface like a paddle. The material I used to make the paddle isn't very strong. If it breaks, I will still have the screws. My pipes are on 3 inch centers, which leaves about a 1 inch gap between the paddles.

As for the heating, I think it comes down to the amount that I am feeding all at once. I estimate that my FT can process 3 times as much food as my RM bins, so I have been feeding it 3 times the food all at one shot. I think I need to feed smaller amounts more often. My last feeding was mostly watermelon rinds broken up into chunks. I used my meat grinder, but left the grinding plate off, so they went through the auger, but were not ground up. There is about a 1 1/2 inch later of rinds, covered by a 1 1/2 inch layer of shredded cardboard.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2010 at 12:02PM
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