When I told a friend that, she promptly said "I've got some diatomaceous earth"--I laughed and then told her it was nightcrawlers. I've been wanting to add worms to the menagerie here on the farm and about 3 weeks ago I made the leap.
My dad told me of a tv clip he had seen on a local news station about a couple raising earthworms for their manure. That's exactly what I'm wanting them for. The past couple of years I haven't liked the potting soil mixes that are available locally and I thought that maybe earthworm poop might be the answer. I watched the video clip on the internet (isn't technology wonderful sometimes?) and contacted the couple featured in the video. Turns out that they were downsizing a little so they had worms for sale. Yippee! Field trip. My best friend and partner in unusual field trips already had her day planned so I mapped out my route and 2 hours later I was standing in a garage-converted-to-worm-house, complete with air conditioning, all matching buckets, sifters, incubators, instructions on the wall.....a bit intimidating to say the least.
These folks had purchased the complete worm growing operation that cost well over $1,000. They feed the worms grain that they purchase from the supplier and they use leaf compost (sifted, I might add) for the worms to live in. I chatted with the lady for a half hour or so, learned a whole lot from her, took 3 paper sacks of worms (3 lbs) with me and started back home wondering how the newbies were going to adapt to life on the farm.
When I got home I gathered up 8 of the cleanest dirty 5 gallon buckets I could find and washed them all fairly well. I went to the leaf pile (see post on Black Gold to see how many leaves I have) and went to the oldest part of the pile to get the most composted leaves I could find. I got a tractor bucket full then proceeded to fill a bucket about 2/3 full of leaves that I had rubbed between my hands--sifting compost? That's for sissy worms (lol)! After I got one bucket filled with leaves I realized that I hadn't drilled the ventilation holes in them, so I got the handy-dandy cordless drill and drilled, and drilled, and drilled holes in the top 1/4 of each bucket. NOW for the leaves. I picked out the biggest globs, sticks, nuts, etc. and put the compost in the buckets and hauled them into the shop--my tiny 10x14 shop.
I started putting the worms in and thought I'd check online one more time before I did so to make sure I wasn't missing something important. I WAS! I read where the containers have to be dark and opaque because worms despise light. Uh oh--my buckets were white. Think---paint might kill them--leftover black plastic mulch and electrical tape! Problem solved. So now I filled up the buckets and tried to evenly distribute the worms between the buckets, and I put a handful of chicken food on top of the soil in each bucket. That's only until I can figure out how to wean them off grain and start them on scraps. I loosely placed the pretty purple bucket lids on top of the buckets and said "Welcome to Crab Orchard".
The next morning there were about a dozen worms that had crawled out of their buckets and committed suicide. WHAT? Not happy? I took off a lid and could see why--it was really warm and stuffy in there, so I took all the lids off and haven't had any more deaths due to crawling out on the floor since then.
The worm folks harvest poop every two weeks. I imagine they can do it that often because the compost that goes in the buckets looks like something you'd buy in a bag at the store and the grain smells like something wonderful to eat. I checked a bucket after 3 weeks and wow, there was enough poop in there to start playing with seedlings and worm poop. I decided that I would be a nice worm mom and sift their compost. So I spent Friday afternoon sifting and filling and separating worms. It really didn't take that long and I think they appreciate it. I'm still working on the food though.....here's their internet debut photo shoot....
Everyone seemed all happy and wiggly when I changed out their bedding and I promised them I'd learn more so I could be a better worm mom.......