Vermicompost Sifting Tips
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Today I’ll share three vermicompost sifting tips. After six months to a year, you will see your bedding and food scraps change into worm castings. You’ll want to reduce the amount you feed your worms so they turn over more bedding and scraps to castings.
Within a week of letting your worms turn over any additional food or bedding, it’s time to harvest the compost. Here are three tips that you can use to make your first harvest easy and enjoyable.
Dry Your Compost
Many worm compost bins are too moist to sift easily. You don’t want to open your bin to let the castings dry. This is because your worms will also likely dry out in the process.
For this reason, it is best to have a second bucket where you can leave the compost uncovered for a few hours or days. Your goal isn’t to get it fully dry. You want it dry enough that you can sift out as many worms, cocoons, and uneaten food.
If you want to speed up the drying process, add a small amount of coconut coir to the bucket of drying compost. The dry coir will absorb excess moisture.
Once again – do not fully dry out the compost as it will kill the cocoons, worms, and beneficial microbes living inside.
Use A Sifter
Next, once dry enough to sift you will need a vermicompost sifting item. I personally purchased the 1/8th inch stackable sifter seen here on Amazon. This is large enough that you don’t need to agitate the compost very hard to go through. It still catches any larger worms, food, and bedding.
If you don’t want to go out and purchase something, I’ve heard of people using large hole kitchen colanders, cat litter scoopers, slotted spoons, and homemade sifters made with wood and wire mesh. It is unlikely that you will catch every cocoon and small worm in your compost.
That is why the next step is so important.
Wait Three Weeks
Since you will unlikely catch all the eggs and baby worms, you should let your sifted compost sit for roughly three weeks. During this time all of the cocoons will have an opportunity to hatch and your baby worms will have grown enough for you to sift them out.
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In general, it is important to keep your castings moist and allow for air to pass through. This is especially important during these three weeks as your castings will contain living worms that you don’t want to die. After sift the second time and collect all the babies, you will still want to keep the compost moist with airflow.
As you can see here, this old take-out container makes a great vermicompost storage container. Simply poke a few holes in the lid with a pushpin or nail.
Keep in a cool, dark place like under the sink or in the closet. Don’t expose the container to extreme heat or cold as this will kill the beneficial microbes and bacteria vermicompost is known for.
Summary Vermicompost Sifting Tips
So there you have it, a few vermicompost sifting tips to help your first time go successfully. To recap, prepare for harvest by reducing the amount of food you add to the bin, Then separate as much as possible the finished compost into a second bin to dry. Then sift the compost gently removing any uneaten food, bedding, worms, and eggs. Let your sifted compost rest for three weeks to allow all viable eggs to hatch. Sift once more, collecting all baby worms.
Now you have nutrient rich worm castings that you can add to your houseplants to boost their growth.
If you have any vermicompost sifting tips that you think all beginner composters should know, share them in the comments below.
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