I am making passive compost tea in my backyard garden. I've done it before and it works great. This year, however, my compost pile got very healthy and full of very active little red worms. The problem? When I screened my compost to make compost tea, many worms managed to stay in the compost. I put the screened compost into a burlap bag, but the bag in a bucket of hose water (forgetting to de-chlorinate it) and left it.
Two days later I came back and the water was full of floating, dead worms. oops! I didn't know what to do, so now that water has been sitting there for about a week....
1. is this "compost tea"/worm graveyard safe to use on veggies or should I just dump it on the lawn?
2. If it's not OK, how can I prevent the worms from getting in next time?
A week is probably enough to de-chlorinate it.
Dead worms = food for other things.
Personally, it doesn't seem to be a problem of whether dead worms are good for soil (which they are). Your problems seem to be
1) Is chlorination gone?
2) is killing worms okay?
As for (1) I think after a week chlorine is not a problem, as it evaporates on its own.
As for (2) I would prefer to see worms alive and doing stuff rather than dead and just providing food for bacteria.
Another problem might be the fact that your compost tea went anarobic. I did the same thing and killed my "compostonauts". They probably didn't have enough oxygen or they got killed by the fresh chlorine. Btw, why are you using chlorinated water for compost tea? That seems weird, as you are adding something that is designed to kill bacteria, which you want.
Maybe you should use rain water (or water left out for a day), screen just to pull out red worms to put them in the garden, then screen again for compost tea. Just a thought.
If the tea doesn't stink it's probably okay to use it. As hot as it is here right now, if I left dead worms in water for a week it would be one stinky mess!
Anyway, I realize you are making passive tea, but if you aerate it with an aquarium air pump, any worms in the compost will live. Yep, as long as there is oxygen, they'll do fine.
Otherwise, you could try to bait the worms out with a burlap bag like the one you have. Put the desired amount of compost in a bin or bucket. Fill your burlap bag with food scraps. Bury it in the compost. Wait a day or two and then pull the bag out. Dump it back into your compost, it should be full of worms. Repeat as many times as necessary to remove the worms.
To your composting success!
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