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Raising worms the quick and easy way.

I went fishing a while ago and the local gas station was out of crawlers, so I picked up some red wigglers and meal worms. It's the end of season and the quality was horrible. The wigglers were small, skinny things. I drowned a few, but had most of the original 50 left in the fridge.
I've raised worms before and decided I might as well try again. I'm in an apartment and wanted to keep this simple.
For a quick startup I just used a 3lb butter tub with a few days of coffee grounds and some torn up paper towels. Make sure everything is damp, but not wet (no water in bottom of tub or when you squeeze the bedding). Drilled a series of small holes in the lid (I had the drill out and just used the bit that was in there. Make more smaller holes rather than a few larger holes, remember you will be raising babies and they are small and crawl all over, you can just use a sharp knife to poke holes in the lid). Add the worms. Check every week or so to make sure it is not too dry or too wet and that's about it. My worms plumped up in a week or so and then started laying eggs. There are now white eggs every where, including the lid. When I start seeing babies I will remove the original stockers and place them in another tub to start over.

Things I have learned in the past-

-Don't over feed the worms, I have to stop myself from adding more food to my current tub. I'm only using coffee grounds right now since they smell good and don't attract insects like other foods do.

-Don't over water the worms, they will drown and rot, not a pretty picture.

-Do use a lid, if the worms dry out they will try to travel. I had dead worms all over my laundry worm years ago (I was single then, so no foul). I had left for a few weeks and hadn't checked on the worms before leaving. They got dry and tried to get away.

-If storing in a shed/garage/lean too, make sure that it doesn't leak. I lost a 5 gallon bucket of worms to a leak. The bucket was fine for months and then got moved, to a spot that ended up leaking. Rotted worms are not a pretty smell. I have also had this happen in a basement, a bucket that WASN'T over watered ended up swamped. I still don't know where the extra water came from on this one, unless it was just from humidity, there were no leaks. Another reason to use a lid.

-Use multiple containers. If one gets too wet/moldy/infested or just dies you have others to fall back on. Also easier to harvest if you haven't fed the worms for a week or two (no moldy food to sort through), but you can keep feeding the other bins. Plus they make great gifts

-If just raising just for bait keep it simple, feed just coffee grounds and paper/paper towels, they smell good and are cleaner than food scraps.
I like using wigglers for composting, but using food scraps can attract insects. If you have plenty of worms it works ok, just make sure the scraps get buried, not left on the top. If I start vermicomposting (worm composting) again I want to get a thrift store blender to chop up the food scraps (no meat, just fruits/veggies/grains). Keep the blender container in the fridge add scraps to it and then blend every few days and take out to the worm bins. I like the idea of keeping things in the fridge because even when the bins were in the basement I ended up with moldy containers of scraps in the kitchen if i didn't take them down every day or two (and I'm no longer single so this didn't go over too well, also I got blamed for every insect in the house whether it was from my bins/scraps or not). Blending them up makes it easier for the worms to consume them quicker leaving less stuff for ants/bugs.

This just goes to show that raising worms is really easy. In a couple of months I will have more worms than I can use next season, just from a couple of butter tubs full of coffee grounds and some left over bait. Also I know my 2yr old will have a blast harvesting the worms when the time comes (I can't keep her out of water or mud).

So go ahead and give it a try, it's real easy. Just remember to use wiggler or European crawlers, Canadian night crawlers won't reproduce.
Now I've got to remember to check on that container of meal worms in the car and see if they are still alive. I want to try raising them next.

Matt Wehland

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Matt,

Thanks for the good ideas and advice on small scale worm raising.

Maybe one of the moderators would be kind enough to add this to the archive link about Worm Raising.

Thanks and good fishn'
Ken


Edit:
\:\) Thanks to Bruce Condello for posting Matt's info in the archives. We get faster and better service here than at the Big Mart! \:\)

Last edited by catmandoo; 11/03/07 08:09 AM.

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Wow, I just checked this thread while trying to get some pics of worm eggs and find that I have been-
ARCHIVED.
Little old me.
Don't even have a pond.
I'm flattered, I don't even know what to say, this is so unexpected.
I'd like to thank my Parents, my daughter Gracie and of course all those Pond Bosses who believed in me (you know who you are).
God Bless you all.
Peace out.

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Ok so it took another day to get the pics ready, but here they are-

The butter container with holes in the lid


I opened the container to find that the lid was covered with eggs, there was nothing just a couple of days ago


The butter tub with egg masses, I keep the whole mess covered with a paper towel, if the towel is wet, then the worms aren't dry (but they may be flooded)


I opened the container to find that the lid was covered with eggs, there was nothing just a couple of days ago


A close up of the eggs



When I transfer the worms to a new container I will try to keep better records of how long things are taking, but this container has been set up for maybe 4 weeks.


Ok so I just checked to see how many more eggs there were and I found this, never seen this before




Yes that is a worm covered with eggs. When I picked him up to check it out he just about broke in half. I'm not sure if the worm was dying and so everybody laid eggs on him or what.

I decided to check the rest of the the container. Tons of eggs but the worms don't look as good as they did before I started seeing lots of eggs. I know that worms will grow more if they are not breeding as much (more room in a container so they don't find each other as much, they eat more and breed less). I've never kept this close of an eye on the worms (they live on a shelf right behind me as I type this) so I'm not sure what's up.
There still seems to be plenty of food there, but maybe I don't know the difference between coffee grounds and worm poop. I will try adding more grounds and keeping track of things. I was planning on moving the worms soon, but I think I will keep them in this container and try to get them back looking healthy first.
I could try some other food, but that wouldn't be true to this experiment would it?

I will keep every body posted.

Oh yeah no baby worms in sight yet.

Matt Wehland

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Ok so I lied.

Right after posting I decided to dump the whole mess and take stock of the situation. There were a few worms that looked good but most looked like they were suffering from 'Worm Rot'. I had thought that the tub was too wet weeks ago, but the worms were doing wonderful back then. So I let it slide, guess I should have followed my gut. I also think that air holes on just the top may not have been enough.

So I decided to restart things. I took another container and made swiss cheese out of it (including the bottom) added some dry and wet grounds (total mix drier than existing tub) with filters ripped up. This will be my new breeding tub.

I took the existing tub and added holes in the sides (none in the bottom of this one). I then added dry grounds to the mix. So I have a dryer mix with more food and full of eggs. I'm sure I lost plenty of eggs with all this, but I had hundreds if not thousands already (heck there were probably 100 on that poor worm in the pic alone).

So much for SIMPLE, huh.

Once I get things in balance it really will get easier. Bigger containers are easier also, and I am planning on moving into larger containers eventually, but it is cool to have a small farm.

Anyone else noticing a similarity to ponds.

Smaller container- less room for error, makes changes happen much faster, easier to start over/correct.

Aeration- if there had been more airflow I think the worms would be better looking, the container would have dried out more if nothing else.

Food/Waste balance- After closer observation I do think they had 'converted' much of the coffee grounds. Need more food and bedding.

Let the experiment will continue.
(note to self, new container started 11/04/07)

Oh yes and I got the 'LOOK' from the SO last night. I had the PB forum open so she read my post and said
'Nice post. You really have worms growing here?'
I said I had told here about them several times.
She just shook here head and said now she knew I had really lost it.
Silly woman, you'd think by now she'd know I never had it.
Especially after another comment one time about ponds/fishing or something else I showed her the pic of Theo full of floats setting his aerator and said hey I'm not the only one. I got the 'LOOK' that day also.


Matt Wehland

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That's funny because whenever my wife thinks I've lost it, I always show her the picture of Theo as well. Works every time.


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Theo Gallus, giving PB husbands a worst case example since May 14, 2004:



"Live like you'll die tomorrow, but manage your grass like you'll live forever."
-S. M. Stirling
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Theo, what's the highest quality version of that pic you have?
I really want to print out a large version and hang it on the wall, then I can just point to it and not have to locate it (although I have several threads with it bookmarked just for the picture).
Gotta go, Simpons are calling (and I'm supposed to be working).

Matt Wehland

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Hey that was the picture Theo sent to me as an example for protection of alleged GSF (now BG to appease the GSA) nipple bitting.

I think he looks cute! (dont get the wrong idea!)

Any way I dont think it is a worse case example at all.

I think it an example of ingenuity and effectioncy. An example for all us pond bossers in our maintenance schemes.

And as far as women go I just had to help my wife and daughter find a tape measure, show them how to use the computer, call a store, where they could get sizing help to place an online order for a coat to replace an online order for a coat they are sending back.

Let them roll their eyes...been thinking about a worm farm but first got to free my rubbermaid 24"X17"X13" tub that I have red swamp crawfish in that is in front of the bay window (it was a comprise, I wanted it on top of the bay window).

Let 'um roll their eyes!

Go Theo!!!

Last edited by Bill Webb; 11/04/07 08:46 PM.

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Hey Bill,
Have you missed the whole point of my post (there was a point here somewhere)?
You can start before your precious rubbermaid tub is ready, just go raid the fridge for a butter tub, and get your self started.
Also where is your post about the crawfish?
Here I am baring my soul for all to see and then I find that you are holding back.
Seriously how many crawfish do you have in there, everything I have read says they are canibals and you can't keep many together.
Uh oh Famliy guy is back on, gotta go.

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Hi Matt:

I didn't miss the point, you hit the mark right on when you said large is more forgiving. My daughter started a worm farm project in a coffee can a couple of months ago and they are part of the dirt now. I just dont want to fool with it now and the rubbermaid tub doesnt cost much, but in the spring I'll buy more crawfish and throw the whole lot into my "kind of pond" that over flows into my real pond. A few weeks ago there was a major crawfish discussion and when I got I bought my F-1 LMB and CNBG I mentioned Todd Overton fished me out 4 crawfish. There is nothing much to post. I put some pea gravel into the tub with about 4 or 5 inches of water and threw the crawfish in. No filtration, or aeration. Every few days throw in a few fish food pellets and every couple of weeks tilt it up where I dip out most of the old dirty water and droppings out (never can get all but enough) and put in fresh water. I am dealing with 4 crawfish in a big tub not an intensive operation like most on this forum. I also heap up gravel where they can get above water if they like. They seem healthy and happy and big and mean. What else could I ask.

Back to worms.

In the spring after there are heavy rains I have places where there are thick layers of leaves that is thick with huge native night crawlers. I probably will just use it as a collection tub, I really want to do what an uncle of mine used to have.

He had an old chest freezer (not stand up)but anything cheap but that size would do that could be closed up tight. He put in a thick layer of gravel at the bottom for drainage and then filled it with dirt to between 1/2 and 3/4's full. He could close it durning bad weather and there still would be enough air for them and he could keep out the rain. It was wide enough and deep enough (here anyway)for the worms not to freeze and he grew lots of worms. After it gets going it wouldn't take anymore time to keep up with something like that than something small. And I would have lots more than I could use and probably could sell a few here and there since I am sandwiched between two over twenty mile long lakes.

I remember he just fed his table scraps. They love left over salad stuff, beans, cantelope, cumuber, and water mellon rines. I was always amazed at how much stuff and how fast they could turn scraps into thick rich soil.

But what your doing will work and you'll have fun. I got crawfish in the house to play with now. \:\/





Last edited by Bill Webb; 11/04/07 10:38 PM.

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Sounds good Bill. When I was in S. IL. I used to collect all the worms I could find, some wigglers/earth worms, some crawlers and some gigantic snake like worms that the locals called river worms.
I mean these things were like 8"-12" easily, before stretching out.
Unfortunately these monsters didn't keep worth a darn, no matter what I did they would die/rot in a few days.

Any body have any idea what they were?

I've never seen anything like them back up north here.

Now that I'm back towards home I may have to check out an old girlfriends neighborhood. Years ago I was at her house during a rain and there were more juicy crawlers that I have ever seen in my life, normally up here all you find are earth worms.
IIRC I walked her to her house and then went back to the car and got a flash light and gatorade bottle and started collecting them.
I think I told her about it later and got the 'LOOK' then also.
Truth be told she was the crazy one. No loss there.

Matt

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I lost the first post I wrote to you somehow so I submitted every so often where I wouldnt lose everything again.

I finished the post after you replied to me so you may want to take a look.

It isnt easy finding these all year. Don't know why I have even drenched the ground in the summer but it didnt help much. Found a few, but in the spring after heavy rains they are thick.

Never saw river worms. But the ones I have are pretty hardy.

Well women between the makeup-cream-etc., fifty different things in the shower and on the vanity, clothes, and what they ask us to pick up at the store, and "I need some help" we could give plenty of looks ourselves, lol.

BTW the crawfish stay as close to separate corners as they can while giving evil looks to each other. No social skills at all! But they have lots of room.

Good luck,

Bill

Last edited by Bill Webb; 11/04/07 11:13 PM.

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My folks normally get tons of earth worms on their driveway after a rain, but this year I haven't seen one. Even after some of the heavy rains we've had here (I had trouble making it home from their house one night, Rt 50 was flooded out and I-57 was flooded in one lane). Still no worms.

Are you trying to breed the crayfish or just having fun with a few of them?

Matt

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I have a little 20'X30 or 40' pond that keeps water in it most years. It is really a hole that was dug out to get clay to build up my driveway in a low section, about 150' long. It overflows into my main pond through tinhorns.

I thought I'd get a few pounds of the red swamp crawfish next spring to stock the kind of pond. Then I could use a few for bait, maybe after a year have enough for a batch or two a year for the three of us to eat, and let a few probably overflow into the main pond now and then to hopefully keep some reproduction in there going. But with the LMB & CC they will have a hard time keeping any numbers up.

Todd and I thought we could get more than four, but finally gave up finding more. I decided I'd keep these in the house in case one or more turned out to be a female and would have some eggs. If that happens the others go straight to the kind of pond and she stays in until the she lets go of the baby's then she'll she gets tossed and the baby's stay until they get too big for the tub and hopefully big enough a good number will survive in the the kind of pond. I have seen where some kinds of crawfish will use a cup like a hole to lay eggs in. And I have a couple of cups but so far no luck.

Last edited by Bill Webb; 11/04/07 11:28 PM.

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There is an aquaponics site (using plants to filter fish water, nice symbiotic relationship) that I've seen that had lots on crawfish.
IIRC many used pieces of PVC on side to make holes/nests (BG type condo), some used stacks of them to give hiding spaces.
(looks for site-found it)

http://backyardaquaponics.com/forum/index.php

I can't do a search without logging in, but there was a lot of info on crawfish. Interesting discussions as it is based down-under, but has a world wide member ship.
Check it out, if you thought pond bosses were nuts, these people really take the cake.
I can't wait to try out some of the grow methods they use.
I keep eying the 220 outlet for the AC, it would run some nice lights and I keep seeing large (75+ gallon) fish tanks on Craigs list cheap, unfortunately the landlords live underneath me and I'm not sure I want to chance a leak of 50+ gallons of water down on them. I've had brand new tanks spring a leak after a month of use so they are out to get me, even if I am paranoid.

Matt


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