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Harvesting

Posted by barbararose21101 8 (My Page) on
Mon, Jan 27, 14 at 15:00

I imagined two boxes with a connecting pipe.
Then I looked at the dog crate: when top and bottom are
separated, I have 2 bins with only 3 full walls.
And I happen to have a brooder lamp with an expensive
led bulb. So: 6 mo old compost in top (which has vents)
and new bedding and food in the bottom placed open sides together. What do I have ? I'm hoping for the laziest possible harvester. If I feed only the new bin (& put parts equal horsemanure and shredded paper . . . ?)

I have also a cardboard box with: a layer of egg cartons, & a layer of used coffee filters. Standing by: newspaper confetti.

It's a work in progress with no hurry to complete.
Suggestions ?

PS to EQ2 the springtails are thriving in the Worm Inn.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Harvesting

Very good idea barbararose. Gotta love reusing things to create your own worm system.....

I use lateral migration in my bins. I prefer to think that it is not a lazy way to harvest, but rather a smart and easy way.

If you have plenty of horse manure you could just use that. I would not add shredded newspaper. Add your compost if you wish, but just manure will draw them right over. Pure, damp horse manure is a worm magnet, and they will breed like crazy. Most of the worms should move across within a month. It will take 2-3 months if you want to allow for cocoons to hatch and the babies to move
It would be best to drill some drainage/vent holes in the bottoms, depending on where you are going to keep it.

The way you imagined it will work great,

Good luck! Pete


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RE: Harvesting

thank you.
reading how much time to allow helps, too.
Do you think I can avoid drilling holes if the bedding
is quite deep ?
I could make an interior air layer, I think, with egg cartons.
Unshredded egg cartons half full of leachate . . . ?
I will take your advice to use unadulterated horse manure
in the Go To bin. If they have enough real food, they don't
eat the newspaper, anyway.


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RE: Harvesting

"I use lateral migration in my bins. I prefer to think that it is not a lazy way to harvest, but rather a smart and easy way."

Ditto, Mendopete!

cb2


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RE: Harvesting


You do not have to drill holes. Treat it like a tote bin and monitor the moisture level instead.

I have a BIG hole in my bottomless outdoor bins, providing drainage and worm escape routes. I dump extra wet manure in and do not worry about excessive moisture or heat, because I'm lazy....

A word about horse manure, Its not all is the same. Varieties include fresh (my favorite), aged and composted. It is often mixed with stall bedding. This stall bedding (wood shavings, straw ect.) will cause some heat when mixed in. If the manure is not mixed with bedding, very little heating occurs. If you add/mix in a lot of paper, CB, ect. into your manure, you will likely cause some heat. You do not need to add anything to horse manure, as it is the perfect worm food AND bedding!

Using the lateral migration system makes heating a moot point. If their media heats up, they will go back where they came from until it cools a bit.

Good luck with the new system. It should be very successful.


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RE: Harvesting

I lifted the worms, their bedding/food from the tub with the net and put it into the 3 sided bin (1/2 dog crate) with a big tube/tunnel and a layer of damp newspaper confetti (outside the net) to keep it moist. The tunnel goes to the other half of the crate in which is a cardboard box layered: egg cartons, coffee filters, and horse manure. The manure is about 6 months old & has been in a garbage can in the garage & never was warm.

Haven't added light yet, but when the garage lights are on, there will be some light on the net. The new habitat is dark.


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RE: Harvesting

While I cannot quite tell exactly what is going on in the photo, I do know that "mess" looks a lot like most of my worm contraptions! :)

Carry-on and keep us posted. Pete


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RE: Harvesting

A lot of interesting ideas everyone has their own version as long as it works without too many problems.

I will admit I have went against the accepted rules and still succeeded. My plastic bins are not opaque but not clear either more of a foggy look to them. It has been suggested that I should maybe put cardboard on the sides of my bins, I did not. My bins are also not deep enough-- 24x17x7 , but I do keep this setup in a 6' closet in which I mostly keep the door closed. They are doing well and have given me several nice harvests without vacating the premises which I did have at first. At night upon checking there are many worms on the lid but the next morning I find no worms outside the bin. I stack these bins in which I drilled many holes on the bottom for migration and in this manner resemble the worm factories. I have quit feeding the bottom bin for about 3 weeks now and it is ready for harvest , may do that today, but it has been ready for at least a week and there are still worms in that bin but no visible debris. I will move this tray to the top with the light on and use a forked tool to stir the mix using the theory they dont like light nor air movement and will head down thru the holes into the bottom bin. If this works as expected I will have nothing left but castings. Previously I didnt do this I took the finished compost and put in piles and separated in this way.

One thing I forgot to mention is I do spoil my worms a bit. Instead of a lot of holes on sides[ I do have a few] I made windows with a 3/4" spade bit then hot glued mesh screening. These windows are visible when stacked which allows more air flow[3 on each side] and deters gnats .


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RE: Harvesting : status post mostly passive migration

All the worms have moved next door. I'm posting this picture for the fun of the bucket cover on the tunnel.
I put it outside. (I need the space in the garage). It's a little chilly but the day will be warm enough.
I'll give 'em blankets tonight. The vacated 5# batches (see floating cocoons) were sorted at shoulder level.
I recommend putting the job at that height if possible. Better for backs. Pureed & rotting food will go on the lower side of this Rube setup. I'll be able to dump the tunnel and close up the higher drier side in a week or so.

I want to take back what I said about disturbing the worms. Those of us who turn the bin contents upside down (for various reasons) could be separating mating worms. Just a further thought. This box/bin doesn't have a net yet.

I have three very small experimental set ups for cocoons. And a batch of cocoons waiting for a good idea.
(i.e., more interesting than putting them back with worms.)


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Semi Zen Harvest

I harvested the Worm Inn today. I started out using the top and bottom of a dog crate with a woven tarp lining and connecting them, -- and quarter inch screen. I dumped the contents of the Inn into a cement mixing pan. I shone a big LED (light not heat) on the castings . Using a dusting brush I brushed a dustpan full off the top and put it on the screen There was new, screened, wet-from-rain horse manure in both the Inn and in one of the half crates. (Two places to put worms). A dustpan full at a time it took most of the morning.
As you all have described, the worms squirmed from the light and were mostly huddled at the last layer so crowded that there was nothing left to screen. They went back into the Inn and fresh bedding and food.

Near as I can tell it was all worms and castings. Any uneaten horse manure or other food was unrecognizable and went through the screen. There were about 2 cups of pea size pieces that didn't break down. I planted a strawberry in that.

I think I saw a hungry worm. Starving, maybe. It was half orange and half skinny and seemed transparent., I put it in a creme brulee petri dish (satin sheets) and it colored up and filled up. Do I get to Conclude ?

Also I witnessed worms liking air. I put some in horse poo tea briefly because they were encased in sticky castings. I put the rock/net/airstone bubbler in their water just to make sure they had air. They climbed aboard, or were bubbled to it within a minute.


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RE: Harvesting

Cool!

Paul


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RE: Harvesting

You have a good method of invigorating your herd. Have you been using horse-poo tea in your garden, or in your bin?
It is interesting that worms not only survive a 36 hour aerated brew cycle, but seem very "lively" when they are done.


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RE: Harvesting

As I opened my bins to inspect this morning, two methods of harvesting occurred to me that I have not seen posted here at the VC forum.

Most methods I have seen employ one of two basic techniques:
1) Mechanical separation, (self-explanatory), or
2) "Stress Avoidance" - i.e. 'make piles and slowly remove what the worms 'want' (food and shelter) and wait for them to aggregate in what's left, or remove food in part of a bin and wait for them to migrate to another part of the bin.

Both methods require no small amount of time. Of course I recognize that some people enjoy the time necessary for harvesting. All part of the Zen of worming. No argument with that. An example would be my willingness to take the time to pulverize the eggshells I have using a mortar and pestle, while some consider that "too time consuming". There is more to be learned by simply sitting and watching than most people realize.

Nonetheless, in the incessant search for "the best" that so many seek, I was observing and wondering, and recalled a couple of methods we used to use to catch worms when I was a kid, and "thought up" a third while following the rabbit trail of "avoidance".

The first method is "Applied Vibration" (hereafter AV). When we were getting ready to go fishing and didn't have any worms, we would take a wooden stake about 4 feet long, 1 inch thick, and 3 inches wide, and drive it in the ground about a foot deep, where we though there should be worms. A second stick with ridges cut in it would then be drawn across the top of the stick in the ground, creating rapid vibrations. PDQ worms would start coming to the surface and get picked up to be used for fish bait. Clearly worms have a negative response to vibration. Vibration should mean a predator is near. Notice how your worms respond to a tap on the side of their bin.

I leave it to your imagination for vibration methods, but I can think of a one that should be right at hand for those using small aquarium pumps to aerate their "brew". The vibration those pumps create could be "repurposed" (should strike a chord with some), as a harvesting method.

A second method we used to collect worms for fishing was to "call them up". We would take a military surplus field telephone - the kind that uses the energy in the sound of your voice (hence the official name; "Sound-powered Telephone) - and that you crank a handle to ring the bell on the other end. That hand-crank rotates an armature in a generator and creates electricity. We would take the two wires and put them in the ground about 3 feet apart and "start crankin' ". In fairly short order, the worms would be surfacing to avoid the 'tricity. Out of the frying pan into the fire, so to speak. While I do in fact still have a field telephone (it's a German Army surplus one), a less vigorous method is simply to use a car battery. Also from first-hand experience, I know this works. Again, I leave it to your imagination to come up with 'devices' for using electricity to 'encourage' your worms to leave one place and look for 'less exciting' digs.

The final method is not one I have used, but "aught" to work based on the widely acknowledged characteristic of temperature preferences by worms, AND again uses something at least some of 'you' might have on hand already - heating pads. I'm thinking of the ones used in green-houses to place under seedling flats to accelerate germination. I can imagine one under a plastic bin that should - I would think - 'encourage' a mass exodus from an environment with an undesirable temperature.

I'm sure there will be those that would argue that the electricity might harm the cocoons. While I cannot speak with any first-hand authority on that matter, I doubt it would be a problem. "Shock" is caused by the drop in potential energy (voltage) ACROSS A DISTANCE. The smaller the distance, the smaller the voltage drop - AKA "shock". This principle is particularly relevant when electro-fishing. (Using electricity to shock fish to the surface for capture. Most often relegated to use by regulatory agency personnel only.) The larger the fish, the larger the shock. Since the voltage generated by a car battery is only 12 volts (amps don't matter too much here, but one should BE CAREFUL nonetheless), The amount of voltage drop accros a 1/4" cocoon would be VERY small.

Try not to become the organism across which the voltage drops from your car battery. You'll probably be looking for 'less exciting' digs. You don't even get burned from a "field telephone". Unfortunately, they are a bit scarce in this modern era.

Just thoughts on harvesting worms based on childhood memories and 'watching' what worms do when they 'don't like' something.

Paul

PS - Shhh. Don't tell anyone in California about the electro-shocking. It will get outlawed for worms as cruel and inhumane even though it is widely used in fisheries (animals with BACKBONES, a BRAIN, and central nervous system) management fieldwork.


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RE: Harvesting

note to Mendopete

Those worms in the picture were rescued at the beginning of
the "brewing".

Yesterday's brew start rescused 2 worms and a tablespoon full of cocoons and springtails from a pound of VC that has sat damp
for a week or so.


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RE: Harvesting

OK Paul, you scared me, so I put on my foil hat! I don't know about getting outlawed, but many of us here on this forum consider our worms pets, or part of the family. I am sure most are SHOCKED :O
Years back my fishing buddy made a 110v worm shocker. It worked very well as the worms "boiled" to the surface. They did seem to survive fine. I would be concerned about side effects. What if it made them sterile or slowed breeding or killed cocoons which can not flee, or any other abnormality???
The heat may work, if they have cool, suitable bedding to go to. Otherwise you would need to be there to pick them up or they would leave. It may cause cocoons to hatch early when it cools though!
Now that I vermicompost, I see worms in a different light. They are so much more than fish bait, although I am not against it. BUT, I still just can't let my chickens 'have their way' with my squirm.
There is another method of harvesting commonly used that you are missing. It is the easiest ,simplest, and least stressful method..................migration. Either horizontal or vertical ,migration is the way to go. That is what stackable bins try to accomplish. That is the principle used in flow-through bins. Lateral and upward migration are used in many outdoor systems. If you manage your new worm cage properly and top-feed, the worms will stay near the surface for easy harvesting... upward migration. Lateral migration is what this thread was started about.


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RE: Harvesting

I'm not 'missing' the 'migration' train, mendopete. It was one of the methods I mentioned that "takes time".

I'm sure there are plenty of folks that would eschew the fairly aggressive methods I mentioned. BUT... there might be some that are/were waiting for "other alternatives" to "slow and steady".

I am unconcerned about the 'side-effects' of "shocking" worms or cocoons. However, I quickly and willingly acknowledge that "it could happen". Since I have considerable experience with shocking other critters, I would need to see either empirical evidence of harm, or a reasonable and rational explanation of the mechanism of harm. "It could happen" doesn't "work" for me in the face of ancillary evidence to the contrary.

I think if I was going to employ any of the above three methods, it would be the temperature method. I can envision two plastic bins side-by-side with some 'conduit of travel' between them. The heating pad would be applied to one, and the expectation would be that the worms would find their way to the 'cooler' bin. Techniques applied to other endeavors to get animals to go where we want them to could be employed to direct the worm's migration in a particular direction.

Paul


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