There are at least two great reasons to raise your own earthworms. By raising your own earthworms you can have bait whenever you want. If bait isn't really your thing, worms still make the best dirt and that in turn can be great for your gardens and house plants. Raising worms can take a little time or a lot of time and it is up to you. It can be fun, interesting, and even a tad bit exciting.
The first thing that you will need is a container. This really depends on how many worms you want, how big of a space you have, and how much work that you want.
- Ice cream bucket. The first option is an ice cream bucket. This won't hold many worms, but it will hold some. Often this is enough if you are only going to make a few fishing trips over the year and only if you or if you are wanting some great dirt for a few house plants.
- Five gallon bucket. A five gallon bucket is your next size up. It will hold more worms, but still isn't going to be enough to go fishing every weekend or even once a month. It is also not going to be enough dirt for more than your houseplants.
- Kiddie pool. A kiddie pool is a great place for your worms. You will need to make sure that you put a tarp over it so that the birds don't enjoy your bait!
- Refrigerator. Many people who want a large number of worms will put them in an old refrigerator. This can be a great option since it holds a lot, is insulated, and will even protect them from most cold seasons (the worst of the cold seasons may get to them, but most won't).
Preparing Your Container.
You will need to make sure that you get the container ready for your worms. It isn't enough to get a container and just toss them in.
- Make drainage. If your container is out and about then you will need to make sure that it will be able to drain because it will get rain in it. To do this cut drainage holes. The holes should be too small for worms to fit through, but numerous enough that it won't hold water. You are likely going to need to put holes in the kiddie pool unless well tarped. On the other hand a refrigerator will not get excess water in it because of its door (which will be its lid).
- Fill the container with food. You will want to add about 1/2 to 2/3 a container of food. Food can be leaves, grass clippings, plant based table scraps (with the exception of potatoes which will grow). Worms also love cardboard and paper scraps.
- Add your worms. You can either harvest your own worms for this or you can buy a container of worms. The worms are likely to be much larger if you buy them then if you hunt for them. You are also more likely to get healthy worms who are old enough to breed and multiply this way.
- Add dirt. You should finish filling the container with dirt. However, you should make sure that you aren't using bagged dirt, dirt with fertilizers, or any other "yuckies".
Keeping Your Worms.
Once your worms have a good home and a fair amount of food you can pretty much leave them to it. Every now and again you should check to make sure that they have food and that the soil is moist but not too moist. Once every other week or so you should do these things in the following manner.
- Add food. Worms love to eat and the more food you give them the faster they will grow. So every other week or so throughout the spring, summer, and fall you should make sure that they have lots of food. To do this you should stir up their container and top it off with lots of goodies. Household stuff is okay, but you don't want it to get too hot so you should avoid meat and raw eggs though egg shells are okay.
- Moisture. You want to make sure that the soil is moist, but not that it is wet. If it is too wet the worms can drown and even rot inside the container. If your soil is too moist you can mix in fresh dry soil and add more drainage or move the location of the container. If it is too dry you should add in a little bit of water and then you should mix it in.
Harvesting Your Worms.
There are two ways to harvest from your container. Each option depends on how many worms you need and what you are using them for.
- Dig. In a small container you know that if you dig enough you will find the worms. You can easily do this and find how many ever worms you need.
- Tempt Them To The Surface. Moisten a large piece of cardboard that will fit over the soil inside your container. Don't make it wet, but it should be damp. Place that on your soil and leave it there overnight. In the morning there should be several worms who have crawled to the surface to enjoy this snack. You can then collect them. Choose to leave the cardboard there for continued easy access or you can remove it and save it for another day.
If you are interested in using the soil you won't be disappointed. After six or more weeks your worms will have turned the soil into a great black soil full of nutrients. To get this you should take a baking sheet and scoop the soil onto the baking sheet. Then you will want to spread it out and pick the worms out to put back in your container. Use the soil where ever you want to.
To restart your bucket you should fill it up at least half way with food, maybe more. Then add a bit of soil and start over.
Raising your own earthworms for bait and for soil is a great way to go. It is also a great project for kids to be involved in. As long as you don't over harvest, especially in the first year, you can keep your population growing. Small containers should be stored somewhere out of the elements in the winter time and refrigerators should be buried to aid in insulation.