Annoyed with all of the waste your family was producing, you decided to build your own worm compost bin and reduce what you’re sending into the waste stream. You've learned what you should and shouldn't feed the worms in your homemade worm condo, and started keeping kitchen and garden scraps aside and diligently fed the worms. But now you’re likely wondering how to harvest all that worm compost that your family of worms is producing, and how to use it in the garden. We'll cover that here!
How to harvest your worm compost
Right around the 3-5 month mark after building your worm composting bin and creating a hospitable environment for them, you'll notice that the bedding and food in your bin has diminished. It's time to start thinking of harvesting the castings from your bin and putting them to work in your home and garden.
Two weeks before you are planning on harvesting your worm castings you should stop feeding your worms altogether. Putting your worms on a diet will make it easier to move them out of the compost you want to use.
The easiest way to separate the worms from their castings is to move the entire contents of your worm bin and pile it to one side of the bin. Take this opportunity to remove any pieces of bedding or food scraps that have not been broken down. Remember, we're trying to encourage the worms to migrate by making them hungry enough to move.
Next, add fresh bedding and food scraps to the side of the worm bin that has been cleaned out. Continue adding food scraps only to the side with the fresh bedding and scraps over the next 2-3 weeks, and your worms will move into the side with the bedding and food scraps in search of food.
After you have noticed that your worms migrated to the fresh food and bedding, you can harvest the compost for use in your houseplants and garden beds.
How to use worm compost
You can use the worm castings produced in your bin in a seed starting mix, add it to your potted plants or use it to amend the soil in your garden beds. Even the "juice" produced in your worm bin can be used as a low-dose and gentle fertilizers for all of your plants.
When using the compost on potted plants indoors, make sure to remove any pieces of bedding or food scraps that have not been broken down. If you can, I'd recommend picking out any worms that may have stayed behind. If you're using the compost outdoors, the worms will be fine in your garden and any undigested food scraps will naturally decompose in your garden’s soil.
By creating and harvesting your own worm compost, you are doing your part for the environment by keeping excess trash out of the waste stream. You are also creating a nutrient-rich, organic compost and soil amendment that can help you grow healthy potted plants and delicious vegetables. And the best part is that you are growing it all without the use of synthetic chemicals, and hopefully got your family involved and learning about composting, the role of worms in creating soil and how we can all do our small part for the environment.