Will this harvesting idea work?

hamiltongardener(CAN 6a)May 28, 2008

My son's worm bin looks like it's ready to harvest and I've been trying to figure out a good way to separate the worms from worm poop. Today we took a square piece of wet burlap, the stuff you use to wrap young trees in the winter, and we dumped the contents of the worm bin into it. Then we filled the bin with new bedding and food in one corner. We bundled up the burlap by twisting the corners together then put a rubber band around them to hold it together, then placed the bundle on top of the new bedding and put the lid back on. My idea is that the worms will migrate to the new bedding over the next couple of weeks and all that will be left in the bundle will be the worm poop, ready for harvest. I know the worms easily fit through the burlap, in fact some were already coming through the bottom onto the concrete by the time we bundled it up.

Will this work? Am I about to run into some unforseen problems?

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squeeze(z8 BC)

should get most of them providing you're feeding below so there's stuff that's particularly attractive to them as they'll happily 'reprocess' the old castings for a long time .... might help if you let the material in the burlap get drier than below so they go down looking for moisture

a similar technique is to spread fly screen on top of the bin and feed above it - the worms come up thru the screen and after some time you can lift the screen and remove the material below .... yes they can stretch small enough to get thru the screen :)

Bill

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 9:40PM
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jasdip

Hi Hamilton,

You could pile up your worms and compost on the burlap, set it on the new bin, and put in the sun.

The worms will crawl through to the bottom bin away from the sun. This to me sounds quicker.

Sherry

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 1:49PM
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susanfromhawaii

I've heard of someone using a single layer of a garbage bag with pencil sized holes in it. He set up his second bin and let it 'mature' for a while before dumping the old bin on the new bin + garbage bag so the new bin would be particularly attractive. This system takes advantage of the worms natural tendency to go down. He checked 3 days later and had worm free castings.

I'm not ready for a harvest, so I haven't tried it yet, but I'd LOVE to hear how your project is going.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 1:00AM
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hamiltongardener(CAN 6a)

It seems to have worked really well. I poked around in the bundle a bit and found all the worms gone. I looked in the new bedding and they are happily enjoying their new home.

I do see a lot of worm eggs in the finished stuff though. I don't want to commit worm infanticide. Should I leave it a while longer to let the eggs hatch and let the baby worms go to the new bedding too? How long does it take for them to hatch?

    Bookmark   June 3, 2008 at 8:59PM
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hamiltongardener(CAN 6a)

There has been one good effect from this "burlap sack" harvesting.

That mite problem we've been having is gone. I don't know what has happened, but the masses of mites have disappeared. Maybe mites hate burlap or maybe the burlap cut off their food source underneath.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2008 at 10:38PM
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jasdip

Hi Hamilton,
My brown mites are recurring. I know they are a natural process, but I'm not struck on them at all. You think if I bought some burlap and laid it on top, they would go away?
Can I still put the lid on? (My cats love sleeping on top of the bin)

Your neighbour,
Sherry

    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 7:36AM
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hamiltongardener(CAN 6a)

It could be worth a try. I wasn't expecting this side effect but it's nice. We've had clusters of mites on the contents of the bin as well as all over the sides pretty much ever since we started the bin. I've tried everything I could find to get rid of them, leaving the lid off to dry the bin out, using melon to attract them then throw out the melon, you name it. This is the first time the bin has been mite free. Not just a reduction in mites...I can't find a single one.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 9:55PM
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bzarzosa

Hi there,
I too had a problem in one of my bins with tiny whiteish looking mites. I added a sprinkle of calcium carbonate to the bedding and within 48 hours they were gone. This leads me to think that getting mites has something to do with the bin getting too acidic. Maybe there was something about the burlap that helped raise the pH in your bin?

    Bookmark   June 15, 2008 at 9:15AM
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squeeze(z8 BC)

bzarzosa - it'd be hard to make a bin too acidic, normally compost is slightly acidic, the bacteria prefer it that way and as decomposition proceeds the material will tend to neutralize .... more likely adding calcium carbonate [which will be hygroscopic] dried the surface and the bugs enough to make it inhospitable for them - they require wet skins just as worms do .... careful!! mites are invariably a sign of excess moisture in the bin along with the anaerobic conditions it'll cause

Bill

    Bookmark   June 15, 2008 at 9:29AM
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