JT2
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How and when to harvest my vermicomposting bins

Hi All,

I have two vermicomposting bins active, and they are going great. The bins are large plastic bins with holes in the bottom so that worms can enter, and holes in the lid to allow rainwater to keep the bin moist.

This has worked out REALLY well, and I have an amazing amount of worms (red wrigglers and others) eating up all my kitchen waste.

The question I have is, now what ?

It is going to get too cold for the worms and the composting to continue, however the bins still contain uncomposted waste. One thought that I have on how to use all this is:

- Simply dig two holes in my vegetable garden, and dump this bins in. This will allow the worms to continue eating and composting, and eventually disperse into my garden. This will also allow me to restart the bins with a new crop of chopped up leaves. Questions I have on this approach are: should I move some of the worms dumped in the garden back into the new crop of leaves, or just wait for new worms to enter the bin?

Suggestions welcome, Thanks!

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applestar
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Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: How and when to harvest my vermicomposting bins

Whether it’s a good idea to allow the vermicomposting worms loose in your garden depends on where you live. Some of these worms could be imported species and also, depending on where you live, these kinds of worms are harmful to the environment.

Are the contents of your bin being intentionally sectoral from one side to the other As you add new “food”? That is a useful method so each sector is mor “finished” as you go from one side to the other.

In any case a method I found useful with nearly finished bin is to either dump out directly on a tarp or ina hardwarcloth-bottomed trough/tray/shallow tub, then either with direct sunlight or bright artificial light shining on the surface, drive the worms to escape out from the bottom. You can also sort through the nearly finished compost and once the material is sufficiently less damp, you can screen it — I used 1” grid, then 1/2”

How cold is it going to get where you are? The worms need to be kept around 45°F or warmer to continue activity, but I usually overwintered them in “survival mode” in my unheated garage which can get as cold as mid-20°F with appropriate protection.
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JT2
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Joined: Sat Nov 14, 2020 5:32 pm

Re: How and when to harvest my vermicomposting bins

Hi, thanks for the reply...

I live in Massachusetts, so it is going to be getting very cold soon.

The worms in my vericomposting bin came from the ground, i.e. I did not add any myself, and the bin has holes in the bottom to allow the local worms to come and go. Thus dumping them into the vegetable garden is just dumping local worms back into the local environment.

Incidently, at the start of the summer I found asian jumping worms in my bins, and managed to extract them all using a worm grunting tool. They shoot right out of the ground after the grunting vibrartion. I killed the ones I could find, and the bins have been jumping-worm free since then. I tried worm grunting down in the river valley behind my house, and there are asian jumping worms in that environment. The darned things have spread to massachusetts.

Since I didn't buy the worms, I'm not too concerned about trying to keep the worms over the winter. I figure they will just repopulate my bins once it warms up again.

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applestar
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Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: How and when to harvest my vermicomposting bins

In that case, depending on how much work you want to do, returning them to the Veg garden and other parts of your garden should be fine. If you want you could make a smaller indoor set up to handle kitchen and paper waste during the winter. That’s what I do in the garage — just a triple-bucket system.

I also put one worm or more in each of my container plant pots that stay inside for the winter — coffee, orchids, various seed started citruses (mostly for fun, though I gave a lemon that has started to bloom), tea, ginger, turmeric, Arabian tea jasmine, seed started avocados and mangos, etc. etc. etc. :wink: I feed them with used coffee grounds and opened tea bags as well ass rinse out water from juices, teas, coffee, plant-based milk, etc.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

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