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Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

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harvesting castings

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llama momma
GWN
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Post  GWN 2/9/2013, 11:31 am

It seems as though worm topics seem so get the least number of pictures, so I thought I would take a few pictures while I harvested my castings yesterday.

The bottoms of the bins were getting rather thick with "dung" so I brought them upstairs, and set out plastic in the dining room table and put a lamp with and extension on it over them. My reference book was "worms eat my garbage"
I first took all the newer shredded newspapers off the top and put in a bin. I then took all the castings at the bottom and make them into numerous piles harvesting castings Img_0713
It takes the worms a few minutes to crawl down to the middle of the pile WITH a light hanging over them.
harvesting castings Img_0714

See they are all hiding... THEN I start taking small handfuls from the tops and the sides and putting them into a separate container (castings container)
and as you move the castings OFF of the worms they gradually go to the middle and bottom of the pile harvesting castings Img_0715
and then you grab them as a handful and place them back in the new bed with the shredded paper you took out as well as a whole new bedding of shredded paper
So I now have two 5 gallon pots full of worm castings. WHen I am removing the castings from the pile I have on my strongest glasses to make sure I do not miss too many eggs. Each of these I put back into the worm bed. BB\'s happy face
GWN
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Post  llama momma 2/9/2013, 11:47 am

Good Job! Congrats. They look very healthy and you got a fine harvest out of them.
llama momma
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Post  GWN 2/9/2013, 11:57 am

thanks LM I have two more bins but I have a question.
Do I wait until the paper shreddings turn brown?
On of the ones I need to harvest, I am worried that it is getting TOOO high in castings, how do you know?
You see I originally bought the hotel multistacking version and then have created 3 bins since them
THe multi stacker collects the castings in the very bottom, but also in the other layers as well as the castings begin to out number the "other stuff"
GWN
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Post  llama momma 2/9/2013, 1:23 pm

I don't really think the color of the paper factors in. I can only speak to my experience with bins.
I think its more about the number of worms living in the castings and maintaining their health. My worms were skinny when I harvested I think that was a sign to clean out their living quarters. I've read a recommendation of holding back food for a week or two before harvesting to let the worms process what is left. That would reduce the papers you see in the castings. And yes the more castings there are, the environment quality goes down. Depending on how many worms are trying to survive in a bin the author of the book Worms eat my garbage I believe said to change the bedding about every 5-6 months. This month will be my second harvest and I think there is about two inches deep of castings in the bins. Hope some of this helps!
llama momma
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Post  Kelejan 2/9/2013, 1:57 pm

llama momma wrote:. . . This month will be my second harvest and I think there is about two inches deep of castings in the bins. Hope some of this helps!
LM, I thought you did your second harvest in December?
Kelejan
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Post  llama momma 2/9/2013, 2:20 pm

I last harvested Aug 10 and split bin #1 into two. I may have talked about harvesting back in Dec. but ultimately I didn't!
Tomorrow will be 6 months. Oooh I better get ready to harvest 2 bins and a bucket of stored castings that hatched out babies and became another container of active worms with very processed castings. Some worm-momma... Smile
llama momma
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Post  Kelejan 2/9/2013, 2:41 pm

Yes, LLM. you did talk about harvesting in December. I remember because I harvested myself in December for the first time and got about seven pounds. I figured on you harvesting the next time, which would have been your third and it would be time for me to harvest again.
Just can't rely on anyone. Sigh! Laughing

You should have quite a lot to harvest by now, and from two bins?
Kelejan
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Post  plantoid 2/9/2013, 4:03 pm

I like your halving method for harvesting LM you have reminded me I must have a look in the wormery. Last time I saw inside was around new years day or .

The compost bins are alive with muck worms of all sizes and the gardens are heaving with zillions of big fat long lob worms upto nine inches long. So the wormery should have something to offer, no doubt .
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Post  GWN 2/9/2013, 5:07 pm

I have harvested a few times and am now up to 4 bins, I just did not keep track of when I did it last. Perhaps I said something about it here Smile
GWN
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Post  GWN 2/9/2013, 5:16 pm

This site is such a great record keeper. I went back through the 1000 worm thread and found out that the last time I harvested castings was November 16th, sometime in the afternoon Very Happy
GWN
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Post  llama momma 2/9/2013, 5:23 pm

Kelejan wrote:Yes, LLM. you did talk about harvesting in December. I remember because I harvested myself in December for the first time and got about seven pounds. I figured on you harvesting the next time, which would have been your third and it would be time for me to harvest again.
Just can't rely on anyone. Sigh! Laughing

You should have quite a lot to harvest by now, and from two bins?

LOL! Now I'm going to have to duke it out with you! What a Face On either page 11 or 12 on my thread, 1,000 worms on the way, I showed pictures of my first harvest last august, and talked about splitting my first bin into two. I went back through the thread in December and noted I neglected my bins for most of December and only talked about feeding them. I am ready to do harvest number 2 tomorrow. I am glad I journaled my adventure because I started to doubt myself and believe you! lol Razz
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Post  Kelejan 2/9/2013, 8:27 pm

You are right, LLM, no need to duke it out with me, harvesting castings 1280598131 I'm a peaceful person. Very Happy Very Happy
Reading back in that thread, it seems that I just assumed you would be harvesting in January, the month that I originally was going to harvest but couldn't wait and did it in December.
Funny thing is that I also use that thread as a kind of diary as to when and what I do, without going over the complete thread again.
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Post  llama momma 2/9/2013, 11:53 pm

Kelejan - A January harvest sounds like something I said.
(also -- yes 2 bins and a bucket) Anyway it didn't happen so tomorrow should work. It'll be nice to get it done before the seed starting adventure begins. Then ration out the castings over the next 4-6 months till the next harvest. I'm getting pretty psyched with the thought of all these castings and adding worm tubes to all the beds this year. Only one bed had a worm tube last year. Must remember to set up another worm corral in the ground like last year to collect ground worms for the worm tubes.


Last edited by llama momma on 2/9/2013, 11:57 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : because i say so)
llama momma
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Post  FamilyGardening 2/10/2013, 1:47 am

GWN congrats cheers on your great looking harvest of castings!!

what are you all going to do when its time to use the castings in the garden?

dry them first?
use them in compost tea?
give each planting a little?

and how much are you going to use at a time with the above?

happy gardening
rose
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Post  llama momma 2/10/2013, 8:43 am

plantoid wrote:I like your halving method for harvesting LM you have reminded me I must have a look in the wormery. Last time I saw inside was around new years day or .

The compost bins are alive with muck worms of all sizes and the gardens are heaving with zillions of big fat long lob worms upto nine inches long. So the wormery should have something to offer, no doubt .

The halving method is a nice way to increase the worm herd and give them more room to do their thing. I can't take credit for the method though, its something I read about somewhere.
Whenever you clean out your wormery take some pictures if you like, cause we're kinda nosy Wink and want to see too!
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Post  quiltbea 2/10/2013, 1:31 pm

When I plan on harvesting my castings, I stop adding newspaper and food to the bin and let them finish off what's there. When the contents are rich and dark and hardly any paper is visible, its time to harvest.
harvesting castings 09-17-10
I scoop mine onto the lid of a bucket and poke thru the castings, tossing the worms back into their bin with fresh, damp newspaper. Then I slide the castings from the lid into a bucket.
harvesting castings 10-21-10
I, too, try to save every worm I can find. I let the castings bucket sit a few days before using the castings so I can pick out any worms that I find later.
harvesting castings 09-17-11
A bucket of castings.
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Post  GWN 2/10/2013, 6:07 pm

what are you all going to do when its time to use the castings in the garden?

dry them first?
use them in compost tea?
give each planting a little?

and how much are you going to use at a time with the above?
Thanks Rose, I am just going to use them on each of the SFGs, sprinkle them all over I guess. I recently took some of them, mixed with vermiculte and peat moss and have potted many ginger roots. I also have been using same for repotting my artichoke plants.
QB, your compost looks great as well.

Yesterday my 2 sons came home for the weekend (it is a new holiday here in BC called Family day) So whilst I waited for them to come...... and for the turkey to cook, I took the two bins of castings and picked out a few hundred worm eggs. It was one of those kind of jobs that you can get a bit obsessed about. It is quite fun, as the little eggs kind of shine.....
So just as an fun experiment I have taken all of the worm eggs I could find and have put them in a smaller bin with wood shavings and am going to take pictures of them every day. I have some little kids coming to visit tomorrow so thought that might be kind of fun too.
GWN
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Post  Kelejan 2/10/2013, 8:49 pm

I am sure the little kids will love the lesson. If they are not too young you can expain that is where little worms come from and what they are going to do. Then show some of your big worms. Very Happy
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