Sunday, April 3, 2022

Cleaning Out The Worm Bed


Years ago when we moved to this property someone had abandoned the large metal box pictured above. Not one to waste things O Wise One quickly put this to work as a worm bed. He drilled holes in the bottom to drain moisture and covered the holes with screen to prevent worms from escaping. Every spring we dig it out and remove the worm castings and worms. The we refill it with fall leaves and maybe a little animal bedding. Not too much manure because we do not want it to get hot but rather decompose slowly with the worms working their magic and breaking it down into rich worm castings. 

For most of the year this box sits in an out of the way shady corner of the yard undisturbed. We may occasionally throw in the stray cabbage leaf or potato peel but mostly it is just leaves and bedding. With early spring upon us it was time for the annual cleaning of the worm bed. So with shovel, fork and homemade sieve and wheelbarrow in hand it took us about 3 hours to completely dig it out. It is funny that the box is about 4 feet tall and started completely to the top full of leaves and such. By spring there was maybe 18 inches of soil in the bottom. That is how much they break it down. 

As we shovel the dirt out of the bottom it is placed on a homemade wooden sieve. The worm castings fall through the rat wire to collect in the wheelbarrow beneath while we pick out any worms and the remaining material too big to go through the sieve is placed into buckets to go back into the worm bed for another round through. 

At the end of the day we ended up with a 55 gallon drum and 6 extra five gallon buckets of worm castings. Many people use worm casting to make compost tea or as a soil conditioner. I like to use mine to add to compost and seed starter to pot up my spring seedlings in. Once the metal bin was empty we refilled it again all the way to the top with fall leaves we saved from last fall.

Then half of the worms were placed back into the bed to seed the next crop of worms. The other half of the worms were placed in a bin to be used for summer catfishing to replace the fish in my freezers for next winter. These are not purchased worms but rather worms collected from the property through the years.  

Waste not want not. The trees is our yard not only provide shade in the summer but leaves to collect for our compost piles, mulch for beds and bedding for the worms. The trees contribute yearly to the soils here in the gardens. Any limbs trimmed become firewood.

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter


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  1. Amen to waste not, want not. There is a purpose or use for 'most everything!

  2. Wow to the quantity of castings you collected! I neglected my indoor worm bin over the winter and when I remembered to check it a few weeks ago, it was completely dried up. I had to start all over.


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