Harvesting the worm poop is not for the squeamish
Clay is off today. Here’s a column first published Jan. 11, 2007:
If you are the sort of person who doesn’t like worms much or doesn’t much like to think about worm poop while you are having breakfast and reading the paper, you might want to skip ahead to the funnies or the sports page or the editorials just now.
Recently, you mentioned that you got a bag of worm poop as a present. Not long after, I was in a gardening store and saw bags of worm castings for sale. How do they gather worm castings?
I have not yet put my gift of worm castings to use. I’m waiting for the warmer weather of the planting season. Of course, I don’t really have any idea about what exactly the season for planting exactly what stuff might be, but it seems like a pretty good excuse for not doing any actual work.
OK, the most popular worms for composting are red wigglers. They eat organic material in the soil.
A worm has a kind of lip for grasping its food and a throat that can move forward to help get a grip on the food. Worms, of course, don’t have teeth. They process their food in the gizzard, where little bits of grit break it up. Then it goes to the intestine to be further broken down and distributed around the body, and what’s left over is worm poop.
OK, now let’s say you’ve got a worm bin and it’s time to harvest the castings. There are various ways to go about this.
Most of the good stuff will be at the bottom of the bin. Just scoop it out, sift it to get rid of any bedding or other stuff, mix it with some potting soil and plant your flowers.
Or you can start adding food on just one side of the bin. The worms will move over there and you scoop and sift the side they’ve vacated.
Or you shine a bright light on the bin. Worms hate light, so they’ll burrow down to get away from it. Scoop and sift until you see worms again and then hit them with the light again and take out the next layer.
Valley 101 Clay Thompson Arizona Republic USA TODAY NETWORK