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mathnerdm

Farming Nightcrawlers

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Hey, I'm looking to start farming my own nightcrawlers but I just had a few questions..

 

1) Which nightcralwers would work better in heat (I'm in Texas, so you know how it is) African or European? Actually laughed writing that thinking about Monty Python...

 

2) I assume peat moss would work fine for their soil. Is that correct?

 

3) What do you feed yours? I've heard chicken mash works, along with just about any organic substance also. What do you like?

 

Thanks and would appreciate any help!

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Also, how many worms should I start with in something similarly sized to a 5 gallon bucket? I see these ebay sellers selling hundreds at a time, and I feel like I'd just be overwhelmed with worms with that many lol.

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No clue about worm species, our weather is totally different than yours! 

 

I would suggest you do not bother if you are going to use a 5 gallon bucket. You need something with a lot of surface area and about 2-3' is plenty of depth if you keep it out of direct sunlight. Something like a large horse trough would be a perfect start-up. With that you could start with 250 crawlers and contain roughly 1000 with periodic removal. 

 

For your first "stocking" I suggest 1/4th of what you think will be your maximum hold. (in my example it was 1000, so stock 250) It will be MONTHS before you can harvest full grown crawlers and you want those crawlers to all be breeders from the start. If you start them now you should be able to harvest come spring, taking up to 100 full grown a month or so... again this depends on how many you can hold. Make sure when you harvest you take some of the smaller and some of the bigger. You want different classes in there so you get fresh stock constantly. You will also have to remove a lot of little ones from time to time if you see a big build-up. Sometimes they will over-reproduce and one day you will see a million little pink worms. Start picking them out so they don't build up.

 

For food, high protein mixed with veggies will work best. If you clean fish, toss the scraps minus the guts in your worm farm. Any sort of over-ripened veggies from your garden or just stop in any grocery store and ask for some throw-away veggies for your worms. Be weary of any highly acidic fruits like pineapple and lemons/limes. Oranges and peels are okay in moderation but not as a steady food. Another good one is FRESH grass clippings. You will be surprised how much food they will eat but be sure and remove it after a couple days if it is still there. Don't want a big mold culture growing. 

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For your first "stocking" I suggest 1/4th of what you think will be your maximum hold. (in my example it was 1000, so stock 250)

 

 

Thanks for the tips! The one problem is, I'm not exactly sure what the maximum load for a certain container is, like how many crawlers can "happily" occupy a certain space before becoming over populated. Would a dark colored large plastic container like this work? http://www.walmart.com/ip/Rubbermaid-Roughtote-18-Gallon-Storage-Box-w-Snap-On-Lid/25559231... I know you recommend a deeper one so I'm sure I could find a better rubbermaid, but just as an example would that be ok?

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Think bigger; 100 gallon RubberMaid stock tank!

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Of course that will work, anything will work. With that one I would say your max hold would be around the 150 crawler mark. 

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Of course that will work, anything will work. With that one I would say your max hold would be around the 150 crawler mark. 

 

And will peat moss work as the soil? Or should I mix it with something else?

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I'm growing worms right now naturally in my pile of leaves from every fall. I plow up the piles of leaves that are on the side of the road and pile them up in the corner of my land. I run my hand in the leaves and it's full of worms. I keep this pile in the cool shade. Luckily my land has a high water table which keeps the leaves moist.

I was going to go below ground to make a worm bed but so far the leaves are working great. I have been thinking of adding more night crawlers and red wigglers to the leaf pile next.

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And will peat moss work as the soil? Or should I mix it with something else?

 

Garden peat will work fine, peat moss might be too light. 

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Go online a search "worm bedding", you need to be careful so you don't kill your nightcrawlers f

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I wonder if garden compost will work. Also what about a little manure mixed in if it's older decayed horse manure. I know I'll end up with a 4'x4' square x 4' deep worm bed someday. Of course in the north country I'll have to use sheet foam for insulation.

All my family members with there spouses fish. Plus my grandkids fish.

We have family tornies fishing from shore with live bait.

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Cow manure is commonly used and usually cut with some compost and top soil to get the right consistency. 

 

You can use anything as long as it is not too compact (they like loose but not as loose as what you want for red wigglers). Just make sure it is natural and has NO chemicals be it fertilizer or pesticide. 

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Ok we sort of agree we need the right blend of compost to keep them fed and healthy.

Now we need to figure out how to cool them in the summertime and warm them in the wintertime. Depending on where we live we do have one problem or both situations to contend with.

The heat of the compost could heat them in the winter if the box we build is insulated properly, it should keep them from freezing. To cool them in the summertime we need to pick a shady cool location. My area is about 10 degrees cooler in the shade because of my high water table in some areas of my land.

I'm thinking with the correct mix of compost to achieve the correct amount of heat.

Any thoughts? Location? The pit? How deep? How big?

How many worms to start off with?

I'm thinking night crawlers(bass/panfish) and red wigglers(trout) probably 6,000 of each at first.

It's your turn, suggestions?

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I raised mine in the basement so heat wasn't to much of an issue. I had both Europeans and Africans and the Europeans were easier to raise and made better fishing worms. There is a lot of information on the internet about raising worms but much of it is wrong or misleading. I found the best place to purchase worms was http://organicwormfarm.com/, Bruce is very knowledgeable and raises his the worms he sells, many don't and they are just dropped shipped from someplace.

 

I raised mine in 10 gal rubbermaid bins, used peatmoss mixed with shreaded news paper (black & white pages). There is a lot of info about feeding them table scrapes but I didn't have much luck doing it that way. I bought a bag of Purina Worm Chow (my local feed store ordered it for me) and mixed it with ground egg shells. The worms no matter what species will need some grit for digestion. 

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