Raising Worms 

09-09-07

It's been over 3 years now since I gave up on that worm bed. I took out kitchen scraps for a long time but when I turned the bed, there were no worms and I didn't ever see any more. From what I have read over the years, we just get way too hot here. Go figure.

 

June 6, 2004

Just making a few notes to update the worm status. I was given a box full of worms from a gracious reader. I had put worms in the tomato beds just to have to move the remaining tomatoes into a fenced garden to protect them from the rabbits. The remaining several dozen worms went into a special bed in another fenced garden. I regularly take out chopped kitchen scraps and keep the bed well watered especially in the heat of the hot days. I think they are doing fine but I will not try to raise them in a confined space indoors or outdoors.

 

February 20, 2004

I was enthralled when I read Dorothy's account of attracting worms to her flowerbed by merely adding the kitchen scraps. A concept so simple gave her a rich viable garden soil with lots of earthworms while I suffer through failed attempts. Research and reading did little good. I would have spent less money just buying worms and setting them out in the garden. She'd liked the idea of running the scraps through the blender so the worms will have food faster and it won't attract wild animals. I am back to saving all kitchen scraps and am fixing to start one bed and see how it does. 

 

January 21, 2004

I will use today's date since that is when this is written. I went to check the worms right about Christmas of 2003, about a month ago now. There were no worms at all. Not one. It had been such a hot summer even with the air conditioner running on hot days. 

Note to self, buy a thousand or so from a garden supply house in the spring at planting time and just add a few to each new bed. All my research on raising worms in a tub is still contained below.

 

July 14, 2003

  Every Monday or Tuesday I run all the kitchen scraps through the blender and make a liquid. That is their week's worth of food and is always gone when I put in more. The past several weeks, I had not seen any worms as I usually did, so I took the time to dig down until I found one. They are just fine. Hopefully busy making more worms. Sly the indoor cat has taken to sleeping on top of their tub and that's fine by me.  

  I learned to keep a big tub of scraps in the refrigerator so the veggies won't spoil and mold. This week I have lots of carrot peelings and potato peels. They will sure enjoy those. The lettuce doesn't have any nutrient value for any creatures but it makes good liquid for the mix. 

  The worm tub sets where it can catch the refrigerated air conditioner's coldest air. I don't turn on the a/c until it's really hotter than the worms can stand by some reports but we cannot afford to run it longer Our old blender doesn't want to work anymore and sure doesn't want to liquefy chunks of carrots that are tough so I've requested a new one. I think I will start putting a few ice cubes inside the worm tub on really hot days. We've been topping 100 every day and that is brutal. 

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May 25, 2003

  We had tried to raise earthworms outside in a large bin only to find that our temps got way too hot and they all died. That year we were hitting 109 F by the first week in May and we stayed there for several more weeks. I look back and think maybe I could have put some ice in the bin to help cool them down but that was just the first part of the summer and I really wasn't up to all that extra worry and work. More and more, we read articles where the person had bought a plastic tub and kept them indoors.

  We found a big tub for less than $4 at K-Mart. About 6 inches from the top, drill 1/8 inch holes with drill all the way around at 2 inches apart. This is the ventilation so keep them clear inside and outside. You can stack things on top as needed (blush) but never forget their feeding every week. Make sure it is a color to not allow light inside.

  Cut strips of black & white newspaper to fill 2/3 full when wet. I then added a full 2 inches of

prepared compost and about and inch of our outdoor leaf mold with just a little sand included. It doesn't need to be mixed.

  Randy stopped by the bait shop and got 2 dozen "Giant Canadian Night Crawlers." As instructed, I waited a week after putting the worms into the tub before I gave them any food.

  One set of instructions said to chop the worm's food into 1/4 inch pieces and this is the way I started out. It took almost a week and there was an extremely offensive odor. I went back to all of the directions and found a better way to feed the worms. Run all the food through the blender. A food processor would be nice but I do have a blender and it does just fine. I save scraps in a big tub in the refrigerator until ready to feed and just blend everything at one time. If I need the space, I blend and then refrigerate.

  I scoop out an area about 6 inches by 12 inches and pour the food into that area. Cover over with material scooped out.

  The best way to feed is to always put the new food in the same place. This was you will see that all the food is gone and they do need more. The smell is always nice and sweet now. The food is always eaten and gone when I check and give them more. It is said that this method makes the worms grow 50% faster and that's okay with me. The reason for the livingroom? The air conditioner to keep them always below 85F.
  Earthworms can be fed all forms of food waste, yard & garden waste, (plant and root material are OK but not too much dirt), paper and cardboard too wet to recycle otherwise, etc. Don't worry about how nasty some waste matter may seem to be, the earthworms have strange tastes. In fact, they are at their highest level of activity, consuming and procreating with glee when recycling cow manure or sewage sludge.

  I chop the food stuff into 1/4 pieces and then run through the blender. To make it work, I must add about 1 cup of water. This makes the food nice and slushy. I have never found the bed to have too much water or to be dry and needing more water.

  Do not feed them; metals, foils, plastics, chemicals, oils, solvents, insecticides, soaps, paint, etc. Avoid all citrus products (oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit), onions, garlic cloves, extremely hot and heavily spiced foods, and high acid foods. Also, avoid oleanders and other poisonous plants (if you are unsure about a species, ask a nurseryman). Be careful of plants that have been sprayed with insecticide.

  To harvest, you simply take the container with the accumulated castings and pour them into a permanent storage container, directly onto your garden soil, or both. With any other bin, the worm/casting mix must go through a harvester to separate the worms from the castings. There are many types of harvesters from a simple framed piece of 3/16" mesh to motorized, drum type, large volume harvesters. For residential use, a hand held mesh frame should suffice.