The Handy Husband: Episode 2, Vermiculture Harvester

by longtallyarn

Domestic Tranquility

Being a crafty person, I consider myself blessed to have a husband who also likes makin’ stuff.  Consider this:  A cool summer morning with no mosquitoes (OK, this scenario is partly fantasy).  Say it’s a Sunday and the kids aren’t moving around much yet.  We take our morning beverages and adjourn to the shady microclimate under the oak trees.  We have our reference books, sketch books, and graph paper.  We sit together reading, looking at inspirational photos, drawing, taking notes, and planning out our separate projects.  We sound out our ideas and talk out the details and concerns.  I have planned a small orchard, a little landscape design for the front of the house, and a few knitted hats.  My spouse has designed a rainwater catchment, chairs, tables, a chicken coop, a sidewalk, a worm spinner, several windmills, etc.

These little interludes of relaxation and companionship are highlights of our weeks.  I love having another creative person in my house–especially this one who makes more than messes.

The downside is the double stash.  And believe me, the chest filled with yarn and the dresser filled with fabric pale in comparison to the stacks of bricks, blocks, pavers, lumber, pallets, sticks, bamboo, paint cans, urbanite, fill, extra extension cords, wires, rope, string, fencing, fence posts, wheels, tires, other miscellaneous bike parts, buckets, pvc pipe, barrels, etc.  I would show a photo but it might make you feel queasy jealous.  (We have made a resolution this year to keep the yard neater!)

My husband took an art class called “Material Studies” when he was a student.  Perhaps it changed him; he is forever collecting materials to be studied.  Now enter the sketch book(s) where the materials will be fitted to plans, drawings to scale, etc.  Then the internet will be trolled for ideas.  (I think Oso is one of the few men in America with a Pintrest account.)  Finally, Youtube will reveal instructions from experts, other people’s ideas, trials, and triumphs.

At last, birthed from this process will be a masterpiece in lumber with flourishes in hardware cloth and bicycle ruins.  Here, to inspire and educate, my espOso’s latest creation, the worm spinner, aka vermiculture harvester:


construction phase, wormspinner.  Note in background, bicycle graveyard and windmill rotor blades.



We put all our vegetable scraps and small cardboard-type items in a container and every night I go out to shut the chicken coop door and feed the herd.  The worms, our hungry livestock, rush to devour whatever delicacies we feed them.  Just like other animals they don’t like orange peels and onions.  Unlike other animals, they happily eat newsprint.

Our red wigglers repay my nurturing by excreting worm castings, the black gold of the garden.  I have read that the worm castings are like a secret weapon in insect warfare,  keeping plants so happy they won’t even contemplate getting sick.  (This year I will surely medicate my green bean plants with castings).

Harvesting the Castings

It is difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, and we don’t want to throw the babies out with the bathwater, so to speak.  So Oso made this worm spinner.  We shovel in a scoop of worm castings, worms, and partially composted vegetable matter.  We turn the crank to spin the wire cylinder.  If the castings are dry enough, they will fall through the screen while the worms and large pieces of compost do not fall through the screen and spin all the way down the to the end of the tube where they will fall into another tote and saved for later.  Rinse and repeat, so to speak.



Oso adjusting the worm spinner. The castings fall to the tarp and are collected. The worms fall out the lower end and are also collected. The boys had a picnic because the weather was so pretty for a January day.

This vermiculture video was inspirational in the production of the vermiculture harvester.