The ANC’s arrived today. Thank you.. The box was so heavy. Initially, I thought I got someone else’s order by mistake, but after opening, I’m assuming, its a pound of ANC’s and a few pounds of castings. Haven’t taken the worm out yet, I’ll do that in a couple of hours after my son gets home so he can watch them disappear.
I also wanted to thank you for the tip in your blog about soaking your bedding for at least 24 hours. Mine soaked between 48 and 72 and I’m pretty sure they like it. I haven’t had 1 try to run and they seem to be evenly dispersed through out the bedding. Great thing about soaking is, I haven’t had to mist since I put the bedding in, and it still feels evenly moist throughout.
I received an interesting question that I would like to share…
My name is (removed), I was wondering if you have ever seen anything like this before. There are several hours between pictures.
This picture was taken a few hours after I dug up these night crawlers. The crawler at the bottom of the photo was freshly dug up for comparison.
This is a few hours later. They are starting to get skinny in their lower 2/3 rds and swelling in their upper 1/3rd.
This is the last picture. You can see, if you zoom in, that they are splitting and their guts are spilling out.
This is not the first time I have seen this as evidenced by the fact I knew to take the pictures. I knew what was going to happen.
Here are some facts concerning them:
I collect these crawlers from roadways when it rainsI have tried to keep them in a cooler, in bedding, feeding them worm food, but they always get skinny and die.Now I just put them in one spot in my yard and hope they stay put by feeding them well.I feed them cardboard, breadcrumbs mostly, and in the fall I put A LOT of apples in with them.I dump a lot of crumbs and chunks of bread on top of the soil every few weeks. It gets mixed in to the soil whenever I dig some crawlers up for fishing. I have since figured out that is a no no.I am not trying to raise the crawlers for profit, I just want them for fishing.I don’t know what kind of nightcrawlers these are, I live in Colorado, and from my experience these things are huge. I have caught many of them 14″ long (measured. I’m not guessing at length). The soil ph is 7. That’s about all the pertinent info I can think of, if you have questions please don’t hesitate to contact me. If you have any suggestions I would appreciate the help. They are some high quality nightcrawlers and don’t deserve to die this way. Thank you for your help.
You are describing a non composting worm such as a Canadian Nightcrawler (Common Nightcrawlers that are dug from farms and fields In the Northern US and Canada) that you are digging up, and trying to raise like a composting worm.
Canadian nightcrawlers live in dirt, are not extremely voracious, and are not nearly as active as a composting worm (such as a red wiggler).
What you are describing is protein poisoning. The worm starts to look like a string of pearls before it dies.
Wrong environment/Wrong Feed.
Bait shops keep these crawlers in refrigeration (slows down their metabolism), inside a peat/coir based bedding that has some leaf litter in it.
The worms are like big slugs, they are not very active, and do not require much feed. They can be kept for weeks like this.
Obviously, if you put them in a habitat that is COMPLETELY different than their normal environment with COMPLETELY Different feed, you will have a problem.
There is a reason why Canadian Nightcrawlers are dug and not cultured.
The better you can recreate an animals natural environment (any animal), the more successful you will be in keeping it alive.
A couple of months ago, I put down a layer of coco coir, a thick layer of leaves, and a handful of red wigglers. Here is what they look like now. The red wigglers are nice and healthy, and the leaves are getting broken down.
I did a mini experiment to see how well worms process and live in a pile of leaves, so here is what I did.
Dry leaves by themselves will not work for keeping worms alive as worms need moisture, but not excessive moisture. So, I started with a layer of soaked coir (Available on my website) to maintain a healthy moisture level. The soaked coir basically acts as a huge sponge. The coir should stay damp for a week or two, which means I don’t need to do anything but wait and watch.
I added some shredded leaves. Why shredded? Remember, worms are living and breathing creatures. If I were to just add a full sized thick pile of wet leaves, it could turn into a mat, cutting off air flow. So, I used the coir base to maintain a moisture level, and added the shredded leaves on top. Lots of air flow in this mixture.
I then added a handful of worms into the material. Not exactly scientific, but I just wanted to see if I would end up with lots of worms, or few to zero live worms. I’m not experimenting on worm reproduction rates, I only want to see how the worms do in this material.
The worms did their thing and dug down through the leaves and into the coir mixture. In just a few minutes, it looked like this again.
What’s next? I’m simply going to wait and watch. No additional food to add. If the coir below gets dry, I’ll mist the mixture with a bit of water. Every week, I’ll do a quick check to see if the worms are alive. It will be interesting to see if the layer of leaves get eaten and dragged down into the coir level.
Assuming the worms survive, it will also be interesting to see the transfer from old dry leaves, to rich worm processed material.
We sell hundreds of thousands of Alabama Jumpers every year. People LOVE Alabama Jumpers because they are EXACTLY what customers are looking for when they think of active earthworms to aerate their soil.
The number one question regarding Alabama Jumpers is: “How do I create a worm friendly environment for the Jumpers”?
Before investing money on worms, you need to make sure you are not adding pesticides and/or synthetic fertilizers to your soil. If you use those, your soil is likely to be void of most life. If you have stopped using these poisons in an attempt to let nature restore your soil over time, best to wait until you see a lot of insect activity before buying Alabama Jumpers. How long you will need to wait is dependent on a ton of variables. The chemicals have you been applying to your soil, how long, how much, soil type, etc…..
When you are ready to create your worm friendly environment, I suggest gathering a bunch of leaves, and adding them to the top of your soil. You want to avoid leaves such as pine needles, Eucalyptus (strong smelling), and Oak (Tannins). It is important that you layer the leaves on top of your soil (As a thick mulch) instead of simply mixing them in. You want the leaves to break down over time. If you simply till a bunch of fresh leaves into your soil, the nitrogen in your soil will be tied up breaking down the leaves, robbing your soil (And your plants) of the necessary nitrogen plants need for growth.
Here’s a secret that I’ve only shared with a few. If you shred your leaves into small pieces (I consider 1/2″ pieces small), they break down INCREDIBLY fast!
You could invest in a leaf shredder, but they are pretty expensive, take up space, tie you to a nearby power supply, or run on gasoline and oil. But…You may already have a tool to shred your leaves and not even know it.
Here’s my secret. Most people have leaf blowers. Our leaf blower happens to be rechargeable, no cord, no gas, and no power cord needed. Leaf blowers blow, but they also SUCK (via a vacuum kit)! Some leaf blowers come with the kit (A vacuum tube and bag), others make you buy the vacuum kit separately, but they are not normally that expensive.
I use my Leaf sucker to make our landscape look neat, but more importantly, I add the shredded leaves as a mulch around all my trees. As it breaks down, it makes the most beautiful moisture retaining Humus (You cannot buy this stuff anywhere), and greatly reduces the need/frequency of watering.
Green thumb? Nope. Special products to attract worms? Nope. I just know the secret to making Humus (decomposed leaf litter that worms and plants LOVE) quickly. And now YOU also know the secret!
The mornings have been getting cooler (Mid 40’s), but look at my gorgeous tomato’s! Lots of worm castings, BIOchar, and Azomite added to my compost based bedding is the secret. Fruit production has slowed due to the chilly mornings, but I still have some green tomato’s on the vine waiting for a few warm days to ripen.
I’m constantly telling people with soil problems that if they add Leaf Litter Mulch to their garden (Or their lawn), on a regular basis, that their soil will greatly improve and become worm friendly.
I was asked today where to get Leaf Litter Mulch?
Unfortunately, most garden centers and Big Box Hardware Stores do not sell Leaf Litter Mulch as they sell only what the major manufacturers provide them. That’s primarily ground up pallets sold as “Mulch” (The manufacturers get paid dump fees for taking the pallets, grind them up, and get paid AGAIN selling the ground pallets in bags).
Ground up pallets are a sad excuse for a good soil amendment, but that is the junk available at your local big box hardware stores and garden centers.
So what can you do?
If you see a gardener, ask him if he has a bunch of leaves he wants to get rid of. Just make sure the leaves are not mixed in with grass trimmings because so many people put synthetic fertilizers on their lawn. If you get some trimmings, simply put them in a pile and run over the pile with your car. You can smother a lawn with whole leaves, but when crunched up, they make a great compost put a couple of inches deep on top of your lawn or garden.
Walk down your street. Find a leaf pile, grab the leaves, and run over them with your car. Easy.
If you have a leaf blower (We have a good rechargeable blower), you also have a leaf “Sucker”. Ours comes with an wide hose attachment and a burlap bag. I simply vacuum up the leaves and they are ground up by the impeller. Great leaf mulch in seconds.
Leaves break down fast, and leaves that are crunched up break down even faster. Layered on top of your soil, they will decompose as the winter rain hits. Soon, you will have created a great, worm friendly environment.