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Raising Worms

Blog by: Lloyd Tackitt , Texas 6/26/2017
Something about the idea of raising worms has always appealed to me.  And it has never worked out when I've tried to do it.

I have a plastic worm bin type of thing.  It has three levels of bins, each with a bunch of small square holes in the bottom.  And a top that sheds water.  Basically what you do is load each bin with dirt and worms and and once in a while add some groceries.  Pretty soon you're supposed to have a gazillion worms.

Next to last time I tried this the worms all died, from the summer heat I suspect.   This last time I ended up just turning the worms loose.

I had the three bins loaded with potting soil from a bag I bought at the nursery.  Miracle Grow brand.  I loaded the potting soil, then loaded the bins with Canadian Night Crawlers that I bought from an on-line source.  I fed them about every three days - a combination of bread crumbs and coffee grounds.

After about two weeks I went to feed them and when I opened the first layer (newspaper cover over it to help maintain moisture) I found all the worms on the surface over to one side, while in the middle it was heaving with large brown maggots.

Each of the three layer were the same.  The worms were trying to stay away from the maggots and I'm pretty sure there were fewer worms.  Perhaps the maggots were eating the worms, looked like it. Having looked these maggots up on the internet they appeared to be an insect called a Soldier Fly. These do not appear to be native to this area, but they may be as they look quite a bit like a dirt dauber when in their flying stage, so who knows...

But I didn't see any point in raising soldier flys on my worms so I dumped the worm bins in a shaded and leaf covered area.  That way the worms could escape from the maggots and I hoped the maggots will quickly dry out and die. I'll check sometime later today and if there are still maggots I'll rake them around with a rake to expose them to the elements.

I don't know if the maggots came in the potting soil or if these insects are already in this area and infected the bin, or if they came with the worms.  

I'm thinking of maybe trying again some day, but this time with soil I dig up from my yard, and only after I figure out some way to put screening on/over/around the worm bin to keep any more of the maggot causing infestators out.  

Meanwhile I'll continue to buy worms when I need them.  They keep forever in the refrigerator where my wife is happy to put them.

Blog content © Lloyd Tackitt
Blog Comments
esoxrocks, CO   6/26/2017 9:28:48 AM
...the worst part is the fall roundup and driving the herd to winter pasture.
Lloyd Tackitt (Lloyd Tackitt), TX   6/26/2017 9:38:04 AM
Worm wrangler...
Goosehunter82, CO   6/26/2017 11:51:02 AM
We've been growing worms for about 9 months now. Well we're trying to grow worms. We figured we spend around 300 bucks each summer on worms so we thought we'd try and grow our own. There definitely growing but not breading. We're fairly certain that it's just too hot where we keep then. Around 60 degrees,but they end up too cold in the refrigerator. Anyway our two dozen we started with are still growing. Some are around a foot and a half long. They look like snakes. Good luck if you try again.
OldMikkDale, CO   6/26/2017 11:56:39 AM
Hi Lloyd, first of all I would suggest keeping night crawlers at 40 maybe 45 degrees unless they are European crawlers and they can be kept at room temps, out of the sun. It does help to keep them cool and in shade on hot days. The best medium to keep them is is store bought or you can use shredded newspaper (black and white only) mixed with peat moss. Good dirt can be used. Keep the medium damp but not wet. Do not use tap water, use well water unless filtered or use lake or river water. The best food to feed them is hen layin mash. Coffee grounds also work. Table scraps can work but carve must b e used on which ones. Do not over feed. Place feed around the 4 sides and one strip down the middle. Only enough to last 2 or 3 days. Feed again when worms no longer come to the top. They need air so having holes on the side and bottom with window screen helps. A really good cover is gunny sack material layer over the top as it keeps the light out and lets air in. I never buy worms on line in the summer because of the heat. The worm farm you bought is good for composting warms but not top feeders. Kiss a nightcrawer goodnight and good luck. By the way European ones are small but very active and Acme Worm Farm is not too far ffrom you.
Lloyd Tackitt (Lloyd Tackitt), TX   6/26/2017 12:25:59 PM
I'll try again. Not sure when, maybe after the hot part of the summer is over so they have a head start before next summer. Thinking about putting them in a spot where I can lay burlap over the farm and drip water on it during the summer - that might keep them cool enough. These are for fishing - so I want fat worms. They don't have to be long, but they do have to be fat. Red wigglers always seem too skinny to me. Which leaves either Canadian or European night crawlers.
Kennywho, TX   6/26/2017 12:33:41 PM
My dad grew fishing worms. He made a concrete bin beside the garage, under a tree. I think it had a wooden lid, though not sure about that. Used dirt from who knows where, fed them kitchen scraps and coffee grounds and watered them a bit as needed. Never had to buy any worms - he just dug up some in the yard and put them in the bin to start. I tried growing some in my keyhole garden. Bought some red wigglers on line, followed directions and still don't know if they survived the heat. The garden walls are plastic corrugated roofing material and the dirt in that garden dried out fast in the summer, even with drip irrigation. Maybe this fall I'll build a concrete worm bin under a tree.
Smelly, CO   6/27/2017 5:19:09 PM
Got any friends who raise Bunny Rabbits ? Loosen some soil in a cool shady spot, add compost (Bagged is ok) some grass clippings. Plop in some Bunny Poop ( the more the merrier ), keep the ground moist, and cover the top with a piece of plywood. No need for a container . They will always be there. Used to raise bunnies a long time ago. Never had a need for store bought worms.
BigSwede, CO   6/27/2017 7:01:00 PM
I'm fortunate to live a block off some tee boxes on a golf course. "Rains" every night and shortly after its worm-palooza!!
cookster, CO   6/27/2017 7:12:58 PM
Hey Lloyd, what kind of worms are you trying to raise?
Lloyd Tackitt (Lloyd Tackitt), TX   6/27/2017 10:07:11 PM
Cookster they were Canadian Night Crawlers. I want big fat juicy worms.
Hawaiian Punch, CO   6/28/2017 3:12:07 PM
I use "sphagnum" moss from the garden dept. at Home Depot. You will need to sort through it first.(look for red vines) The moss is super water holder,so wet it,mix it,let it sit,then squeeze it out,you want the moss damp,but not wet.I hold crawlers in this for up to 6 weeks at a go.I dump the whole batch out on a cardboard tray and sort through all my crawlers every other day.(When one dies or get weak,it can cause your whole batch to go bad) I use a six pack cooler to store the crawlers in a fridge. (lid of the cooler off) and add a blue ice pack to the cooker when out on the boat if its hot. Truth be known . . .I can't raise them crawlers to save my soul.