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Our Newsletter


Worm Care

 

The Red Wiggler  (Eisenia Foetida)

 

When your food scraps pile up, don’t throw them out anymore. Get yourself some red wigglers. They only grow to an average of 2-4 inches in length, and are about half the size of a number 2 pencil when fully grown, but don’t call them little or non equipped when it comes to devouring food scraps and waste!!  When these guys group together, they become a voracious force, consuming anything in their path. 

Literally tons of vegetable scraps and food waste is recycled by GA Wigglers Worm Farm each year employing these little rascals to do the work. These hungry worms will eat one bite at a time, until the food in front of them is turned right back into soil, which is called worm castings, (worm poop), which is in turn one of the best soil amendments on earth! Worm castings are 12-15% richer in phosphates, 10-12% richer in nitrogen, and 10-12%  richer in potash than the average soil.  This valuable substance is a result of your food waste, so don't supply local land fills with your waste, give it to some of your very own red wigglers! 

By far, these guys are the best gardeners on the planet, and will only assist with all your gardens, grow beds and lawns! Decrease waste, decrease your carbon footprint, and increase organic and all natural growing production all at the same time! These worms may be small, but provide a large service to our Earth! 

 

Equipment and Supplies

The materials needed to set up a worm bin, the home for your worms, are rather simple and inexpensive. Basic supplies consist of a suitable container to house the worms, bedding, water, food, a light source, and of course, the worms.

 

Worm Bin

The worm bin can be as simple as a plastic container or something of a more solid structure such as a wooden or concrete structure. Depending on the scale you plan to raise your worms, the size of your bin may be from a 16-quart plastic container to hundreds of square feet in an outdoor structure.

Based on the outcome desired, example for fish bait or the worm castings, this will determine the size container and the amount of worms needed.

The earthworm requires three basic needs - water, air and a food source. The general "rule of thumb" for worm castings is for every square foot of surface area, use one pound of worms, which is approximately 1000 red worms, so to provide adequate space for the worm to move around to feed and breed effectively. Earthworms prefer darkness because out of captivity they eat at night.

After you have your bin chosen, drill small holes (approximately 1/8" inch) around the sides, just below the top edge for aeration and in the bottom to drain excess moisture.

 

Bedding

The most readily available and common used material for use as earthworm substrate (bedding) is all natural peat moss.

Place peat moss in a large container and add water while mixing it. You will find that the peat moss can be quite difficult to soak, because it tends to float at first. Be sure that you soak all of the peat, as it doesn’t easily absorb water and needs to be wet evenly and thoroughly. Squeeze "wring" out excess water. Peat moss should be very moist with only a few drops of water coming out.

It is preferable to let the peat moss soak at least 24 hours before introducing your worms to their new home.

An increasingly popular alternative to peat moss is coir bedding, available in brick form or packaged. Coir is coconut fiber and it is sold here at our Worm Farm as a bedding as well. Soak it as you would soak your peat moss bedding and ring it out accordingly, leaving approximately 75% of the moisture within the coir. The ideal moisture content for earthworm bedding is leaving the moisture level approximately 60-75%.

You can also use shredded newspaper & cardboard for bedding and as a feed source, and it's practically FREE and in abundance for the taking. We get truck loads of newspaper & cardboard from one of our local recycle stations. After shredding, soak and ring out just like you would the peat moss.

Another optional bedding is composted manures (cow, horse, dairy, goat and horse) are all great manures to bed your worms in and it's also a feed source for them as well.

You are now ready to add the worms to your bin. Add worms and the worms will immediately begin "bedding down". Bedding depth should be between 4-6 inches according to amount of worms you start with. Worms should be completely gone down into the bedding within 15-30 minutes and making themselves a new home.

We always recommend that you wait at least 24 hours before adding a feed source such as, laying mash, cornmeal and even food waste to your worm beds/bins. If manures are used, that is considered their initial feed source, but more manure will need to be added after the initial manure is turned into castings.

 

Food and Feeding

Healthy, fat and meaty earthworms are the result of feeding them a well balanced diet. Some common sources of food is chicken laying mash and corn meal. Generally, the laying mash has a higher protein content and will give your worms their needed supplements.

Lightly sprinkle the mash/cornmeal on the top of the bedding and wet it in with a vegetable sprayer or spray bottle. It is better to put smaller amounts than too much at first and then gradually increase your food until your earthworms are consuming all the feed within a 24 hour period. Never feed them until all the previous food is completely gone.

You can also feed your worms table scraps, but don't feed them any meats, oils/greases, dairy products or acidic waste. They are vegetarians basically, so feed them lots of vegetable scraps and peels. Also you can add in some coffee grounds, eggshells, tea bags, potato peelings, apple cores and more! Our success with feeding food waste is we always feed in the center of our beds/bins, therefore keeping the composted heat centralized, and then wet it in accordingly and cover . . the worms do the rest.

If you plan to harvest your worms do so before you feed or after all the food has been eaten. Do not harvest with food in your bin. Never mix your grain food sources into the bedding. Mixing grain feed into the bedding will cause a condition, known as "protein poisoning", which is a build-up of acid within the bedding caused by the decomposition of the food. If you notice your earthworms laying around lethargic or even dying, it is highly possibly to be a result of protein poisoning and you will need to remove the worms from the old bedding immediately. Start with fresh, new bedding.

 

General Maintenance

Do not leave your worm bin/bed in direct sunlight or rain. Even though they can withstand hot and cold temperatures, you should always try and keep them within the temperatures of 55-75 degrees.

Every other week, you should lightly turn the worm bed to introduce proper airflow into your system. Since earthworms absorb oxygen and moisture through their skin, this process allows sufficient oxygen to be throughout the bedding and also minimize the second common cause of worm death, due to an anaerobic condition, meaning not enough air is flowing within your system. If the earthworm bedding appears to be dry, lightly spray water and fluff the bedding, but do not saturate.

You will soon discover that earthworms are extremely easy to raise and breed. One of the best things about raising and breeding your own worms is that you get to compost all your table scraps, coffee and tea grounds, cardboard, newspaper, leaves, grass clippings helping to lessen your carbon footprint on our planet, keeping your scraps and waste out of your local landfill and you get to generate your very own worm castings for all your growing and gardening needs.

 

NOTE:

Please don't forget your light source!!  Your worms will crawl away without a light over the bed/bin!!

 

 

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