What do you think about when the phrase “worm farming” comes to mind? A way to contribute to a cleaner environment, like recycling? A relatively unobtrusive method of turning your old food scraps and kitchen waste into compost (even if you live in apartment with a window-box instead of a front yard)? A means of creating a second (or even primary) income by farming bait to sell to fishermen (there are more than 60 million in the U.S.A. alone)? Whichever you choose, the methodology is basically the same. You start with the worms. The best worms for all three jobs are red worms, otherwise known as red wigglers (which is why they make a good lure). You can buy your “seeding” supply of red wigglers from some garden supply stores, bait shops and worm farms. It’s much faster than trying to dig them up yourself.
Next up is a series of three boxes (two with holes in the bottom). The reason you’ll need three boxes is because the worms shed their castings (feces, etc.) in the middle box and then crawl up into the top box to eat. The lowest box collects water and other excess liquids, so it’s a good idea tap this box so it’s easy to drain. Finally, place a lid of newspaper or thin cardboard paper over the top box to keep out birds and to keep it dark. Worms love cool, dark places. Put the soil in the top two boxes and keep it moist, but not wet. Your worms will drown if they spend too long in water.
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Worms can double their population every 90 days. But they need to eat. Fortunately, they eat mostly what we do, with some notable exceptions. They’re vegetarians, so no animal or fowl meats, and no onions and citrus fruits. You can feed them leaves, dirt, eggshells, potato peelings, apple cores, pea pods, celery tops, and bean strings. Plus, instead of throwing away your pizza boxes and cardboard paper, soak and shred them and add them to the mix. Worms will also eat hair trimmings, dog or cat droppings or stable (horse and cattle) sweepings. But they draw the line at anything that comes from people.
After your first week of farming, the worms will probably have climbed out of the middle bin, which has now been contaminated with their castings. These can go straight into the garden or potted plants. Mixed with a little water, they also make a good liquid fertilizer for root-feeding plants. You can sell the excess worms as bait or to people who wish to make their own worm farm. You can also sell their eggs or cocoons to other farmers to replenish the worms in their soil.
There are any number of web sites that will give you specific details about worm farming, which is also known as “vermiculture,” so you can enter that in your search engine too and see what wiggles its way to the surface.
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