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Jun. 7, 2006
Harvest time for the worm bin
The Friday before Memorial Day weekend, some kind soul here chucked 2 huge tortillas, a half of a moldy sandwich and a still-wrapped tamale into the worm bin. It was a well meaning act, but unless each worm was the size of an anaconda, they could not have possibly consumed all that food before it began to putrefy.

Feeding worms is pretty simple—a pound or so of chopped food will usually suffice. Fruit and veggies, coffee grounds with the filter, tea bags, eggshells, and yes, on occasion, bread or tortillas—as long as they're chopped up a bit. I have it on good authority that worms really love melon rind; it's definitely up there on their hit parade.

Because it was a long holiday weekend, and I had a worm bin at home that I wanted to start, I thought it would be a good time to harvest the work bin. I could bring some worms home with me and give the work worms a new space. For worms, this is tantamount to moving to a new apartment.

The harvesting process goes a little something like this:

  1. Wait for a sunny day

  2. Spread a tarp out in the sun and dump the contents of the upper bin onto it

  3. Make a bunch of small conical piles of worm compost and let it sit for a few minutes

  4. The worms will wriggle down to the nether regions of the piles to get away from the light

  5. Scoop the top of the piles into a bucket, continuing until you see piles of worms

  6. These piles then go back in the worm bin, with new bedding and fresh food to start their compost making all over again

Since the bin hadn't been harvested for awhile, I was afraid to look into the bottom bin, which can get pretty earthy and smelly; but to my surprise, this wasn't the case at all. There were tons of really healthy-looking worms in the bottom layer of some really wet and rich composted material—it was like black gold. There was also a full bucket of drier worm castings, which, I admit, I took home and put around my tomato plants.

So, turns out I was able to start my own bin with some of the hardy pioneers from work, which, when you think about it, is the ultimate reuse/recycling process.

Posted by:
Mary Kate
Office Life

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