How to separate the worms in worm composting is a big question. Vermicomposting, another name for worm composting presents its biggest challenge after the compost is finished. The red worms, also known as red wigglers have done their job and now the time had come to move them from the finished vermicompost into their next batch.
I have always struggled with this process. Some people just take the finished compost and put it into the garden worms and all. But these red wigglers will not do well in a regular garden. They are really compost worms and they like compost not just dirt. I guess these people just buy new worms to start their next batch.
I have tried several methods that have been recommended on the internet or in books without too much success. It depends on what kind of worm compost bin that you have. I will give one example of what I have tried in the past.
How to Separate the Worms
This was in a rectangular plastic bin, nothing fancy or special. One piece of advice is to move the finished compost to one side of the bin and fill the other side with fresh bedding with some food in it. The worms will just automatically move over to the fresh bedding. My worms never wanted to cooperate with this process. Some red wigglers moved over but plenty stayed in the finished compost. They have always been very happy to stay in finished compost!! I have spent a lot of time picking them out of the finished compost.
The Worm Factory Additional Composting Bin Trays which have lots of holes in the bottom are perfect for separating worms from vermicompost. I no longer use the Worm Factory but more on that in another post. I filled one with new bedding, some pulverized rabbit manure and some watermelon rinds. The other tray was on top of this with the finished compost in it. And I used a grow light shining on the compost to encourage the worms to move to the level underneath.
After 2 days, they were almost completely in the new bedding all happily clumped together under the watermelon rinds. I have never seen them move over so fast! My red worms really like rabbit manure and they also really like watermelon rinds. So maybe the new bedding was just too enticing and they migrated right away. The difference was remarkable. There were only a few worms that I had to pick out of the finished compost. I think next time I will use just watermelon rinds to see if that was it. You know just a little experiment.
In my next post I will go over the beginning steps of how to make a worm bin composter.