Easily Separating Worms From Castings: My Invention

Boukmn(10b)December 13, 2013

I came up with and tested this idea I had a while back and I am happy to report, it works! Very well! It is no longer a "Thought Experiment". Rather than using incandescent bulbs to drive worms down, I used old aquarium heating cables to drive them up. The cables warm slowly, giving the worms time to get away. The rising heat follows the worms up the food column forcing them from the base tub thru the mesh and into the new food tray.

After a few hours, the base tub is free of ALL worms and they are crowded into the top new food tray. My guess is reptile heat pads could be used to substitute for heating cables though I never tried it.

Advantages:
1. Zero worm loss in castings.
2. Minimal worm disturbance.
3. Can be integrated into an overall 2-3 level bin design (surprised this has not been done already).
4. Allows control over when mass casting amounts are harvested.

This post was edited by Boukmn on Mon, Dec 16, 13 at 16:24

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Niivek

That's pretty cool. Do you put it under the container, or do you have to put it in the bin when you start it then plug it in when you are ready to harvest?

    Bookmark   December 16, 2013 at 11:05AM
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Niivek

That's pretty cool. Do you put it under the container, or do you have to put it in the bin when you start it then plug it in when you are ready to harvest?

    Bookmark   December 16, 2013 at 11:06AM
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Boukmn(10b)

The cables are actually inside the bottom bin, not under. The worm castings are just shoveled atop the cables till it slightly heaps over the bin rim. This is to ensure the castings are in direct contact with the mesh bottom of the new bedding / food bin.

I am working on another design built around a heat mat instead of aquarium heating cables. The new design will a built-in part of the worm bin itself that can simply be plugged in when you want to drive all the worms out of the castings into new media.

Honestly, I am really surprised no one thought of this idea before. Once you incorporate sub-media heat to move the worms up, you really never need more than a 2-tiered bin.

Currently, the worm bin heating cables that exist seem geared to maintaining optimal temperatures for worms. The aquarium cables gradually rise to reach a temp range that safely makes the worms uncomfortable.

I won't be surprised to see a manufacturer tweak thermostats and come up with an incorporated worm bin design within a few months. When you see how thoroughly the bin is voided of worms in just a couple hours you'll be a convert. I lost ZERO worms left in the castings...even the tiny baby ones made their vertical escape.

On a larger scale it is easy to see how using sub-litter heat in this way could make a commercial vermicomposting operation more profitable.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2013 at 12:13PM
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Niivek

Git you a patent, quick.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2013 at 2:38PM
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pz2vn9

Sounds like a great idea and I would love to try it out. What size mesh on top tray? I assume it is placed directly on the soil of lower bin... After they are separated and you remove the castings, do you just dump all the worms back to original bin? (Yes, I am a newbie :) although my worms are multiplying like crazy.) Any other suggestions & info would be a great help. Thanks from Mich

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 12:21PM
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Boukmn(10b)

The top fresh bedding tray is really my compost sifter employed for this experiment. The bottom mesh is 1/4 inch.

The tub is filled with enough worm culture so it gets slightly above the rim. This ensures the mature culture stays in contact with the fresh material through the wire mesh.

Once it has all the worms, the contents become the base addition to a restarted worm bin culture.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 12:38PM
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gerris2

Wow this is a fantastic idea!!! Thanks!!!

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 4:59PM
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livelydirt(Zn 4, Lively, ON)

Just starting to explore this topic. What temperature are you getting the soil up to? I'm wondering if the thermostatically controlled germinating mats will get hot enough to do the trick?

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 8:31PM
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