The process for raising worms is much like the process for worm composting. The same materials used for composting worms are the same for raising worms. The reasons for using these materials are the same in both cases as well. The only difference between raising worms and composting worms using the same method is that when raising worms you won’t have to “turn” your worm systems. When composting, it is essential to turn your worm systems to encourage aeration.
Worms need several things in order to survive. They need: darkness, food, moisture, oxygen, and warmth. So, to begin the process of raising healthy (and happy) worms, you will need:
·Raw fruits and vegetables
·A shallow container with a high surface area to volume ratio (a Rubbermaid tub is an excellent option)
·Moist leaves, shredded cardboard, paper (called “bedding”)
Earthworms can be purchased from a number of online retailers or at most plant and/or pet stores. Once you have your earthworms in hand, wash out the container or bin that you are using. If you have a wooden bin, line the bottom of it with sturdy plastic such as a heavy trash bag or shower curtain. Mix the organic materials together and add the worms. You will notice after several weeks that the worms have eaten through the materials. This means it’s time to add more food. This is also a good time to make sure that the leaves or “bedding” is still moist. A good way to measure moisture is with the sponge test. If the bedding feels like a wrung out sponge, then it’s ok. If it is not, it’s time to add water. It is important not to add too much water because too much can interfere with oxygen. So, again, use the wrung out sponge as a measuring tool.
Next, it is important to keep temperatures in the ideal breeding range and to keep the bin in a dark area. Ideal breeding temperatures range from around 77 degrees Fahrenheit to 86 degrees Fahrenheit (max). Use a thermometer to keep track. Worms prefer the darkness, which is why you will rarely find hoards of worms wriggling around in the sunlight. Another reason is that the sunlight dries the worm’s skin out. Worms breathe through their skin, so they need moisture to survive. There are several ways to keep the worms abode dark. You can keep your system in a very low light area, you can use opaque bins, and you can also use a large amount of bedding to block out excessive amounts of light.
If you would like to keep a close eye on your worms, meaning you would like to observe them for extended periods of time, you can set up a dark room. Red lights do not bother worms, so a dark room is the ideal space for those interested in long periods of observation. Earthworms may be purchased at just about any pet or plant store, at bait and tackle stores, and even at retailers such as Wal-Mart. Just look in the sporting goods section in the refrigerated cases. Good luck!
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