How to best empty wormery trays

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leowoodscott
Junior Member
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2020 5:41 pm

How to best empty wormery trays

Post by leowoodscott » Sun Dec 05, 2021 6:56 pm

hello again!

Im now a year into having a wormery and my worms seem really happy. However I have a few issues and I was hoping you could v kindly help me:

- The wormery is now full to the top and I need (for the first time) to empty the lower trays. Ive never done this before and I was hoping you might have some clever tips. Also we don't have a big garden so Im not sure where best to put these casings - I have tried community forums to offer them to a local allotment owner or similar but amazingly no takers!

- The wormery isnt producing any worm juice and hasnt been for a while. Is it possible that the casings at the bottom of the wormery are blocking the juice? Also this sounds so so dumb but could you v kindly remind me which way the tap should be facing for it to be open? I always forget.

- With this cold weather, should the wormery now be permanently wrapped in bubble wrap, thermal wool etc until the spring?

- Am I right in thinking that the worms are less active throughout the winter regardless?

Thank you so much. Always so grateful to this forum for help.

Leo

WillyWorm
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Posts: 623
Joined: Sat Jun 06, 2015 9:10 am

Re: How to best empty wormery trays

Post by WillyWorm » Sun Dec 05, 2021 9:43 pm

Hi good to hear your worms are doing so well. Where to start🙃
Firstly I’m amazed no local allotment holder wanted your castings. if I had an offer like that I would have bitten your hand off then given you a cabbage.
Even a small garden and a few house plants will easily take a tray or two of worm casting and will benefit from them. If you really can’t use them in that way you could make some worm casting tea and water your plants with it. If all else fails look around the area for a woodland or small open space and lightly sprinkle them around. Did you try asking gardeners/allotment holders directly if they would like your worm castings?

Ok harvesting your castings. Firstly take the trays out of the stack and put one on top of the other, in reverse order, put the last tray to be removed to one side. Now check the sump for liquid if it is full then check the tap is working this could be the reason you have not been getting leachate from your bin this is a more probable reason than the bottom tray clogging up). I like to empty the sump and clean the tap at this point. This is a good time to check which way is open and closed for the tap. Mine is open when the tap handle points away from the bin.
Now it’s time to start rebuilding the tray stack, starting with what was the second tray earlier. I like to “fluff up” each tray to see how it is maturing and if it contains many worms, this also allows oxygen to get into the bin and helps prevent the bin becoming anaerobic.
When you get to your last tray, the one that was a short while ago the bottom tray, then you have a number of options to remove the worms. I would suggest putting this on the top of the stack, leave the lid off, setting up a light directly above it. This will make the worm go down, away form the light. You can then gently scrape off the top of the castings, leave for awhile then repeat this a number of times and most of your worms will be rescued. When you are down the the last quarter of an inch in the tray add some just damp bedding and a small amount of food and your tray will be up and running again. I would only do one tray at a time, in the summer you can do one tray per month if the castings are all finished and the top tray is full.

I have my outside bins covered in bubble wrap all winter, I find it a pain every time I want to feed or check them but it’s better safe than sorry.

Everything about worms slows down in the colder winter months. They eat less, are not bothered with making babies produce less castings and cocoons delay hatching.

Please let us know how you get on
Willy

leowoodscott
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Re: How to best empty wormery trays

Post by leowoodscott » Wed Dec 08, 2021 3:15 pm

thank you so much Willy - I will be in touch to let you know how I go.

leowoodscott
Junior Member
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2020 5:41 pm

Re: How to best empty wormery trays

Post by leowoodscott » Sun Dec 12, 2021 4:03 pm

Hi Willy

Ive just successfully emptied my wormery trays -all looking good. The tap was clogged so I emptied and cleaned out the sump too.

Ill use half of the castings and the local farm will take the other half.

Can I ask a couple more questions if you dont mind -

As the worms are much slower in the winter, should we therefore feed them less? I am currently feeding a caddy a week but should I reduce this?

Secondly, with the worm castings, is it a bit too intense for plants if you put a few 'dollops' on them? Do you need to dilute the castings down in some way - either by watering at the same time or mixing with less quality compost? Is there a limit to the amount of castings you should put on a plant?

Thank you so much in advance!

Leo

WillyWorm
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Posts: 623
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Re: How to best empty wormery trays

Post by WillyWorm » Sun Dec 12, 2021 10:37 pm

Hi Leo, glad the harvesting of your castings went ok. We always welcome questions here so never be afraid to ask.
Our worms will eat far less in the winter than the summer. During the warmer months I share out approximately 4 litres of food between my 7 worm bins per day. In the winter it’s one to one and half litres of food between the same bins about every 10 days. But the four corner method will help balance the feeding.
Worm castings are the perfect food and growing medium for your plants, the only limits on how much to use is how much you can produce. The only problem with using 100% just casting is they can dry out and be difficult to “wet” again, for this reason it’s a good idea to mix 50-50 with leaf mould or even old potting compost.
You can use casting, mixed with leaf mould or on its own in a number of ways. Use it to top dress plants in the garden or in pots, mixed it makes a good potting mix or seed mix. You should never fear that it is too strong for the plants they will love it.
You can mix casting in water (vermicompost tea) and use it to water plants not to dilute the strength but to make it go further. A dilution of this sort can also be used as a folia spray every week or two.


Willy

leowoodscott
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Re: How to best empty wormery trays

Post by leowoodscott » Tue Dec 14, 2021 5:51 pm

Thank you so much Willy

that really is a lot less food that you give the worms in winter then!!

How often are you emptying a tray of castings out of interest in summer and then in winter?

By leaf mould do you mean leaves that have fallen from trees in the garden ie brown leaves?

Best wishes and many thanks,

Leo

WillyWorm
Senior Member
Posts: 623
Joined: Sat Jun 06, 2015 9:10 am

Re: How to best empty wormery trays

Post by WillyWorm » Wed Dec 15, 2021 2:50 pm

Hi Leo, yea the rate of food consumption drops dramatically in cold weather. Worms are ok eating their bedding and part worked castings if the food runs down. You can never provide too much carbon rich bedding it will only do good. One of the worst things you can do in winter is to provide too much food which will only lay and rot leading to an anaerobic environment which will kill your worms.

In the summer I empty approximately four trays per month from my seven bins, in winter I empty approximately four or five trays between mid October and early March from the same seven bins.

The best leaf mould is the stuff you find on a woodland floor, it is the stuff that provides centuries old trees with much of the goodness they need to survive. If you can get permission from the landowner (technically it is theft in you don’t have permission, but I’ve never known anybody be charged so it’s up to you, you were warned 🙃) go to the woods move the top layer of leaves, they will be last years and this years leaves, below them you will find a dark brown, sweet smelly fibrous material this is natures treasure. Never take too much and collect only small amounts from different places around the woods, when you have gathered from one spot replace the leaves to protect the millions of trillions of microbes and bacteria that live and work in this layer then move to the next spot. You need very little of this treasure so please take no more that half a carrier bag once or twice year. If you need more material than this for a project then you can collect this years fallen leaves if possible shred them (Un-shredded leaves take longer to break down)and put them in a container or a black bag with holes in and forget them for a year or two. These will not be as good as the woodland floor harvest but are still a fabulous product.

Willy

leowoodscott
Junior Member
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2020 5:41 pm

Re: How to best empty wormery trays

Post by leowoodscott » Wed Dec 15, 2021 7:33 pm

thank you willy - a fount of information as always!

With 7 wormeries you must have gallons of the stuff!

Leo

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