In an ideal situation, harvesting castings and removing your worms is a relatively easy task. At one end of the bin you place their favorite food, cantaloupe, on the top of the castings. Over a few days in which you don’t add additional water to the bin, the worms will all migrate to the single source of yummy food. You then shovel out the castings for your plants, grab the worms, and you’re done! This was not the case in our situation.
We had multiple different worm homes going–the old worm bin, the small but established indoor bin, and the incomplete bin by the garden where the worms from the two previous bins would eventually call home. Arriving at the old worm bin on moving day when the worms would be put in temporary plastic bins inside, we saw they had just been watered and fed that morning, making our job much more difficult. We carefully shoveled the worms, castings, food, water, and leaves into our bins to later be sorted. The sorting was the really difficult part.
Using screens on top of bins, we scooped the mixture out of the bins to be sorted. We then picked out each individual worm, dropping it into a cup of water for it to wait (they really like being in water). Debris such as rocks, uncomposted leaves, food bits, and sticks were separated into a different bucket to be thrown into our thermo piles. The castings then fell through the screen and into the bin. It’s straightforward enough, but very time consuming. In future harvests we will definitely use the cantaloupe method described above.
After we sorted all the worms from the old bin, we prepped the new worm bin for them. We first placed a layer of thick, wet cardboard so they wouldn’t quickly escape. Newt went a layer of wet shredded paper, then a layer of leaves, then another layer of paper, then some soil (or “grit”), and finally the worms. When making a worm bin, you want it to simulate a forest floor, so on top of the worms we put more shredded paper and leaves. We then fed them processed, frozen then thawed carrots, placed under the layer of leaves and paper. Worms like a dark, wet, environment, so we watered the bin even more, and closed the lid to let them get accustomed to their new home!