The Worm Dude
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Featured Customer Question – Jeff K

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

I am wanting to place an order but first need your expertise. I am wanting to purchase the worms and nightcrawlers as feeders for my 40+ frogs. I would like to set up a system where they possibly breed and I have an endless flow of worms. I have two seperate Sterlite bins, one for the wigglers and one for the nightcrawlers and I have layered them as follows…

damp cardboard
coffee grinds
damp newspaper
romainne lettuce
damp cardboard
coffee grinds
damp newspaper
banana peels
little bit of top soil
I have been allowing the bins to cure (rot) for around a week now. Does this sound like it will be successful? Thanks for your time!

Hi Jeff,
I’m going to give you a little more answer than you asked for.  Actually, a lot more.
Before I started raising worms I was a high end tortoise guy.  I’ve also owned a reptile business.  When it comes to understanding feeders, I’m your man!  I’ve raised worms, roaches, mealworms, crickets, BSFL, and even Silkworms.
First off, I would NOT recommend a diet consisting solely of worms.   In nature, animals do not eat a diet consisting of one thing.   I would raise at least two species from above, maybe even three.
Raising feeders is all about keeping things simple, simple, simple.  Sometimes that means spending a little more up front, but you will be happy you did.
Forget the soil, it adds weight and no value.  You’ll have all  the bacteria you’ll ever need in the bedding that comes with the worms.
Forget the coffee grounds.  You don’t want to be putting your hands in mucky grounds when pulling your feeders.
Make sure your plastic bin has plenty of drainage as plastic does not breathe.  I’d drill one good sized hole in the bottom and above it have a piece of weedstop cut a little larger than the bottom of your  bin.  Put the bin up on bricks and keep a pie tin underneath to catch excess drips.
Just add plenty of damp and well FLUFFED paper and cardboard strips.  You can’t have too much bedding.   Bury your romaine lettuce and banana peels in the bottom corner and you’ll find your worms hanging out there when you need to grab some.  If you put food throughout your bin all you’ll do is create a sewer and eventually kill your worms.
In addition to worms, I’d  get setup to raise BSFL.  You’ll have great feeders for life!   You can read about BSFL on my blog.  Do yourself a favor and buy a Biopod Plus.  Makes raising BSFL absolutely SIMPLE!
Roaches are pretty prolific and easy feeders also.  I’d get a non climbing variety so you don’t have to worry about that issue.  They can be raised in plastic tubs also.
It’s a great feeling to never have to run out to the the pet shop again!


Featured Customer Question – Dorie F.

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Hi Jerry,
We bought the Wriggly Wranch in March and the worms (From you) at one of the San Jose
Composting events. My worms did great up until this last week from all the
rains and the worms were all dead in the bottom tray with ALOT of water. The
bin is under the eves of our house. I want to try them again, how can I
prevent this from happening again.

Hi Dorie,

Easy. Make sure you have plenty of drainage in your bin, or shelter the top of your bin so you don’t get so much rain coming in. Fortunately, we don’t normally get rain like this past week! As you have experienced, worms like it damp, but they rot in standing water.

Two other things you can do. Keep the spigot open at all times. That way, excess water drains freely from the base. Problem is, most people have a lot
of muck in the base, thus clogging the spigot.

To keep the spigot from clogging, I would suggest keeping a piece of weedstop (black mesh landscapers put under rocks) in the bottom tray that makes contact with the base. Not only will this help keep worms out of the base, but it will reduce the amount of “Mud” in the base, thus helping the spigot stay clear.

Glad you want to get back in the saddle again. Just chalk this up to a learning experience.

Good News/Bad News

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

Recently, one of my readers asked that I provide updates on some of the earlier worm experiments that I published. Although most of the experiments were completed and documented on my blog, one experiment continued….until this morning.

Last October I placed a pound of Red Wigglers in a 12 gallon rubbermaid style bin loaded with damp, fluffed newspaper bedding. My contention was that the Red Wigglers could live off of the paper alone. If true, this would mean that you could on vacation for a LONG time without worrying about your worms running out of food! It also meant that there is absolutely no reason for anyone to kill their worms with excess food. After finishing their scraps, your worms would simply start eating all the paper bedding.

You are probably wondering why am I writing about this today!

Every customer that has come by to purchase worms has been offered my “How to keep your worms alive Pep Talk”. This mini lesson includes showing the foodless bin, with live worms surviving only on paper for the past 10 MONTHS.

This morning I was feeding and watering my worms (It’s a big job when you have LOTS of worms), I put the hose down with the mister nozzle attached. Although slightly dripping, I happened to place the nozzle on the before mentioned rubbermaid bin. I figured any random drips would dampen the bedding of the paper eating worms. 30 minutes later, I remembered that I had not turned the water off…WOOPS!

What’s the bottom line?

I cringed when I opened the flip top bin to see a bunch of worms climbing up the sides in an effort to avoid drowning in 10 gallons of standing water! I could look at it as my experiment being ruined. Instead, I chose today to end the experiment, claiming success that Red Wigglers can live indefinitely on damp newspaper. They don’t get big and fat (But neither would you if you just ate a diet of damp fiber)!…..but they survive!!!!