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How long can worm compost be stored?

I put this topic up for discussion on the New England group. Some members suggested that I should add it here, so all member could make comments.

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I presently have about 10 gallons of well-sifted castings being stored for spring. I am keeping it moist. I might add a cup of water every couple weeks. I determine adequate moisture by a little condensation on the bucket lid. The lids simple rests on the top not sealed down.

I do not think you can really kill the microbes in either castings or compost unless you do something very deliberate to do so.  i can see how you might reduce the numbers of active organisms.

I  have a microscope from when I was kid but in reality what am I going to really see? I would not know a beneficial critter from a pathogen. You really need to do cultures etc to know if you are really hitting the mark. I think it is just as effective to wing it and figure if your castings are relatively fresh or at least stored with a little moisture, they will have sufficient live bacteria to do their job whether you drop the vc into the garden directly or make tea.

My understanding is that you can keep it indefinitely if you keep it moist.  As soon as it dries out completely, many/most of the bacteria die.  It's OK if part of it dries and you get it wet again because the live bacteria can re-colonize the part that dried out.

 

As to wether having pure castings or mostly composted VC makes a difference, I have no idea but I wouldn't think so. Part of the benefit of VC/castings is the broken down nutrients (easier for the plant to use them), and part is the beneficial bacteria.  I'd think if you use dry castings, you're only getting part of the benefit you can get from VC/castings.

Hey Garbage Guru, Pat, and Susan, Thanks for your comments on this topic. I am in agreement with most of what you are all saying. My stored compost is always covered and seems to stay quite moist for long periods, There are small vent holes in the storage box so some oxygen is available for anything in the VC that needs it. No matter how careful I am some small worms or eggs end up in my storage box which I think is good since they continue to do their thing before I use the VC. I feel my VC is quite high in worm casting content. I wait a minimum of 6 months before dumping my boxes and often wait as long as 9 to 12 months. I have done non-scientific test using both my VC and Worm Tea and both produced favorable results. All I can say is what I am doing works for me. I would love it if someone with that microscope and a science degree would share some information with us. Happy New Year to you and your worms.

I am in the process of tracking the lifespan of biology in worm castings for my job. I will keep you updated! I plan on publishing my results.

RT

I am very interested in the topic.  could you please email me your results or how to access them? .  I would really like some data on how dry worm casting can become before the microbes die off.  

Thanks

Linda

I am very new to this whole worm world thing. I have been trying to find out how long the liquid on the bottom of the bin that drains out is good for before you turn it into worm tea. I know that I have been getting so many different answers for how long it is good for once it becomes worm tea. I have gotten everywhere from 2 hrs after you make the worm tea to 72 hrs after it is made. I need to know how long the liquid is good for before you turn it into the tea. Once winter comes where I live, my yard, garden and plants will be covered in snow and I will have to wait until late spring to see the ground again. So can I at least store the stuff throughout the winter months and then come spring turn it into tea?

It isn't.  The stuff draining out the bottom is leachate, although it's pretty common to call it tea (leachate will be called tea, but real tea will never be called leachate).  That can be just liquid coming from the rotting foods.  Compost tea is a microbe soup (it's really about the microbes as opposed to the usual N-K-P). 

Here's a link all about compost tea from a great site.

http://www.redwormcomposting.com/worm-tea/making-vermicompost-tea/

http://www.redwormcomposting.com/worm-tea/the-worm-tea-vs-leachate-...

 

Has anyone came up with  proper answer for how long you can or should worm castings?

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