Worm Harvesting Optimization


I get one of those “the most fun things in life are free” type of euphoric buzzes whenever I’m working in or talking about my worm farm: “I GOT WORMS!”

For a brief background, I built a container to house red wiggler worms.  The worms eat my table scraps and turn it into soil.  Here’s my post on building the structure.

The concept that these worms are turning waste (which half of it is rotting or covered in mold by the time it gets to the worm bin) into lush soil, completely free of smells other than “morning fresh dirt” is simply amazing to me.

To note, the worm bin can take on a nasty, pungent rotting smell from time to time.  This is simply user error, as the eco-system is out of a nitrogen / carbon balance.  To fix this odor, add torn up pieces of newspaper, unbleached cardboard, leaves, mulch, or my personal favorite saw dust from the filter at the Home Depot saw.

The concept of worm farming is that you put food into one bin until it is full then let the worms compost the material.  Once the material is composted, you start another bin stacked on top of the full bin and allow the worms to transfer through holes in the bins.

This gets a lot of the worms out of the soil you want to harvest, but there are still quite a few in the soil.  So, you have to be a sadistic jay-hole and introduce the worms to something they hate: the sun.  The instructions I’ve seen so far recommend making cones of the harvest and iteratively pull from the top of the cones, like in the picture below.

https://adventuresinmissingthepoint.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/worm1.jpeg

Being the impatient and lazy efficient person that I am, I noticed that the worms were in the shaded, cooler spots of the cones.  So then, I rearranged my piles into awesome non-linear hockey stick looking formations.

https://adventuresinmissingthepoint.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/worm2.jpeg

Not the best picture, but you can see I built the mounds just out of the shade range from each other.  This still works the same way: pull one inch going across the top.  Then, iteratively repeat as the worms will keep moving downward.  When you reach the bottom of the wall, build another until efforts are futile and/or you are satisfied with the harvesting.

Also to note, the harvested soil is fertilizer for your plants.  And if anyone local wants worms, I can donate some to you.  I can give you a handful and the worms will propagate into an equilibrium population for your container in a relatively short time.

I’m also kind of curious if you could harvest this soil using the other thing worms hate, which is standing water.

For what it’s worth, it’s crazy, to me, after spending years thinking about chemical extractions and separations in terms of abstract concepts like solubility and entropy by adding a living aspect to it, namely the extraction of the worms from their soil via sun.

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