storing and using worm castings

shireen(Baltimore, MD/7)August 27, 2010

I live in an apartment, and have had a Worm Factory running for a year and a half. The bottom tray has some nice rich worm castings that i'd like to harvest soon.

Since the growing season is winding down outdoors, none of my friends with gardens need it. So I was going to use some of it to make a potting mix for my indoor plants.

I set aside a small sample of castings in a container, and several days later, it had completely dried out and would not absorb water. Therefore, I'm trying to understand exactly how it's used as a soil amendment.

My questions: how do you store worm castings? Is there a way to keep it stored moist without causing fungus or mold to grow on it? If i use it to dress the top of potted plants, do i have to cover it with something to keep the moisture level from getting too low? If the castings completely dry out, can it be salvaged by adding water and soaking?

I'd also like to make some potting mix for my plants. A search of this forum yielded some recipes using peat moss. Does anyone have recipes that use coconut coir (it's more sustainable)?





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plumiebear(z9? CA)

Shireen, I've never had to store vermicompost for long periods of time, but here's what I have in my notes just in case I ever did:

Unless it is nearly pure castings, I don't think you want it to dry out completely. My personal preference is to harvest vermicompost that contains 40-50% castings. That can be stored in a well ventilated bin for a couple of months without getting moldy...but that's in a mild climate. Maybe others can comment what's best for more extreme climates.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to store worm castings.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 3:18AM
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I stored well done compost in an open 5 gallon bucket over winter (6 months) and it did fine. No sour smell at all that I noticed or any company commented on. I kept it in a cool porch above freezing. I used some in the winter for potting and the rest this spring in the garden. Sorry I have never used coconut choir in potting mix so I can't help there.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 2:34PM
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gardenfanatic(MO zone5b)

I don't let mine dry out. I store it in Rubbermaid totes with holes in them. Do you ever notice when you buy compost in bags, the bags have holes in them? The microbes need air. Even with holes, the VC doesn't dry out but I've never had it get moldy. I have VC that's been stored since last year in the house and some in the garage.


    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 9:23PM
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I have a layered composting bin in my basement, and am nearing the point of harvesting. Next month I intend on introducing a new layer/bin for my worms, and the bottom layer/bin will be harvested. Can I just leave the bottom bin alone and harvest in the Spring or do I need to empty it?

    Bookmark   December 12, 2014 at 11:25AM
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nexev - Zone 8b

Hi Dee, those with experience in tiered systems will certainly be able to offer you more assurance though I would say you will be fine, in fact better than fine as nothing but good can come from leaving it there for a few more months.

The bottom tray will help to absorb any extra moisture the system might produce but also given the additional time any errant cocoons that are there will have time to hatch out so that the young new worms can move up into the system.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2014 at 2:49PM
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