As winter yields its grip and the weather begins to warm up, it’s time to prepare for productive composting. You will need to check what effect the Winter has had on your compost bin. Also, you need to take the necessary steps to bring it back to productivity. No doubt there will be organic fertilizer to be harvested and used on your garden. You might need to order worms and other supplies.
Check Your Bin
Do not disturb your outdoor worm bin until there is no chance of freezing weather! Otherwise your worm colony could be damaged. Search online for “last frost date” for your locale.
Take the lid off the worm bin and dig around gently. Do you see any living worms? Do not panic if you see no wiggling in there. Dig deeper, because the bottom center of the worm bin might have been warm enough. Still don’t see living worms? You might see tiny spheres that look like coffee grounds. These are worm eggs. They will hatch when the weather warms up. Baby worms look like tiny brown flecks at first, then grow into little worms.
Worried about your worms not bouncing back? Want to get a head start on composting? Order a bag of worms from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm. Add them to the top of the bedding and let them dig in. They will start munching on any uneaten organic material and create compost quickly.
The composting process slowed down significantly in the cold weather. Warmer temperatures speed up the composting process. You should see organic matter start to break down in the coming weeks. If you start harvesting the organic compost and find too much undigested scraps, try again in a few weeks.
Where is the Organic Compost?
Regular “hot” composting results in finished compost. However, when you compost with worms, you get something even better: worm castings. Also known as “worm poop,” worm castings is black organic compost, rich in soil-friendly bacteria. Fluffy and nutritious, worm castings are highly concentrated organic compost for your plants.
Tray-based composters are made specifically for composting with worms. You keep adding trays with bedding to the top. Feeding the top tray teaches the worms to migrate to the top tray. Therefore, the bottom trays are ready-to-harvest. Just remove the bottom trays and scoop out the worm castings.
Regular, deep composting bins will have most of their worm castings on the bottom. Since you typically feed the worms on the top, the worm castings are especially concentrated on the bottom. Some bins have a drawer or hatch at the bottom. Others need to be “turned” to find the organic fertilizer. You can use a screen to separate the worms and sticks from the worm castings. Or, try one of these other methods to separate worms from their bedding.
How to Use Worm Castings
Mix worm castings with other ingredients to make starts. Add them to soil and use them as a side dressing. Worm castings can make your lawn lush. Spraying your plants with worm tea provides nutrients and helps keep pests away.
Need More Bedding?
Harvesting worm castings can heavily deplete the amount of bedding in the bin. Do you feel that your worms do not have enough bedding? Add some more bedding. Pure peat moss, composted leaves, and coconut coir are good choices. See our article on bedding. Note: Get a free 1.4 lb coconut coir brick with any $20 purchase through 3/31/2020 – enter coupon code COCO and it will be added to your order.
Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm is the #1 supplier of composting worms in the USA. Our live worms are born and bred at our rural Pennsylvanian farm.