Separating worm castings from soil? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-14-2011, 03:59 PM Thread Starter
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Separating worm castings from soil?

So, last fall in a fit of inspiration I decided to dump a couple dozen earthworms in a container full of topsoil to make some top grade worm castings.

Now that I have 6 months worth of black gold, how do I get it out of there?

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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-14-2011, 05:04 PM
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Separate the castings from the soil? The castings enrich the soil. You can just use it.

To get the worms out safely punch about 1/2 inch or less holes in the bottom of another container, put raw compost in it, and put the 2nd container on the first. The worms will migrate into it in a few days.

You can also make a casting tea by soaking it and collecting the effluent. Use immediatly as fertilizer so it will have the highest number of beneficial bacteria and fungi. Alternatively put the soil in cheese cloth or burlap and immerse it to collect the tea.


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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-14-2011, 06:27 PM Thread Starter
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I already have a good bed of mineralized soil in the tank. I was hoping to supplement (like root tabs) with the castings once I built up a good supply.

Didn't know if they were readily soluble or easy to crush or, frankly, how to even identify them...

The tank is far too young to tear it down only to enrich the substrate.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-14-2011, 06:49 PM
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What about just taking the castings you have there, add some water and freeze it into balls. You could just push these balls into substrate as you see fit.

I believe that if the soil has been turned by the worms long enough, it should mostly be castings. I could be wrong though.


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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-14-2011, 07:03 PM Thread Starter
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That was the plan...Casting cubes.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-14-2011, 07:04 PM
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What type of earthworms are you talking, hopefully red wigglers or something similar. Did you feed the worms or just leave them in topsoil? I raise red wigglers and euro crawlers in plastic rubbermaid bins and when I separate them when ready I'll only feed one side of the bed and remove that section which usually contains almost all the worms. I don't usually care if I remove them all but you could dump whats left after this on a tarp under a light and pick the rest out if your using the castings in tank I guess.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-14-2011, 08:52 PM Thread Starter
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I think it was like 3 dozen reds and 3 dozen nightcrawlers. The starting topsoil was pretty black and smelled...earthy... I fed them vegatable trimmings occasionally. Mostly carrot, onion, and celery. The container is a rubbermaid.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-14-2011, 09:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cggorman View Post
I think it was like 3 dozen reds and 3 dozen nightcrawlers. The starting topsoil was pretty black and smelled...earthy... I fed them vegatable trimmings occasionally. Mostly carrot, onion, and celery. The container is a rubbermaid.
I'd try giving some food to one side of the bin and see if you can get them out that way. If the nightcrawlers were Canadian or American and not euro or african crawlers they might have died in the bin or shrank down in size as they aren't really a good composting worm and won't do anything except survive basically in bins that aren't really deep and cool as they prefer permanent burrows versus just living in the topsoil. If they are still alive the only way to get them out is going to be by dumping and sorting them out but if their euro or africans the bait feeding should work on them too.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-16-2011, 04:15 AM
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Depending on what they were living in you can either try picking them out by hand (not as hard as it sounds) or running it through a screen or some fine hardware cloth. Worm castings just look like little piles of poop on the surface. They're usually a bit shiny compared to the dirt around them. Check out the picture here.

ETA: You wouldn't normally find them all piled up like that. They look a bit like brownish gray popcorn, I suppose.
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