Tag Archives: earthworms

Simple Compost Harvesting for Impatient Gardeners (video)

Composting For Impatient Gardeners

Here’s a good MIgardener video showing how to sift through your compost heap.

His pile is clearly past its thermophilic phase, as it’s cooled down enough that it’s filled with pill bugs and earthworms…these are the critters that turn your material from compost to finished compost, by further breaking it all down.  This phase is essentially as long as you want it to be.

His trick with using the pitchfork to separate out all the twigs and non-composted material seems to work well for him.  I made a compost sieve for screening mine, but a pitchfork would make a great preliminary screening as well.

He mentions nutrients leaching out into the soil… a simple method for helping prevent this is to start your compost heap with at least six inches of brown materials such as straw, hay, shredded leaves.  This is your “biological sponge” that will help keep everything retained.

Earthworms in the Compost: It’s a Good Thing.

Back in January I made a brief post about my compost tumbler being full of worms…and by worms I don’t mean red wigglers, but earthworms.

Who cares?

Well, I’ve decided it’s time to pay tribute to earthworms again, because they’re often confused with red wigglers and their purposes get mixed up.

Red wigglers are super resilient (e.g. temperature changes, crowding), live in organic material and have a serious appetite…they make the most sense in a full-on vermicomposting setup- anything from a super cheap/simple worm bin to the popular Worm Factory or Worm Inn options.  If you put them in with a freshly active compost pile, chances are good they’ll be dead right away or leave altogether.

Earthworms, however, may arrive much later in the composting process:

My tumbler has been sitting “idle” for a couple months now and each time I take a peek, I find earthworms in there.  They came up through the bottom of my tumbler and have been burrowing their way through the material, speeding up the end process.  Earthworms are soil dwelling worms that will assist in further breaking down of compost into neutral, balanced soil.  To have soil dwelling worms in my compost seems like a good indicator of the material at this stage.

So if you’re looking in your compost pile one day and see some worms in there, it’s almost certain they’re earthworms- not suitable for efficient vermicomposting, but perfectly normal for improving your near-finished compost.