How To Raise Earthworms For Beginners



This is a simple guide for anyone interested in growing your own earthworms at home. As the demand grows for organic farming, earthworm castings have become more popular and appealing for home vegetable gardening and plant growers. Perhaps this article can help you make your own worm farm so you can begin growing earthworms, and save money if you do not prefer to use fertilizer.A little bit about the author first. My father had a successful earthworm farm in Florida for 25 years. He sold his Florida worms mainly to fishermen and gave away the castings to gardeners (before people started selling it). I worked for him part time over the years and picked up on his methods of how to grow earthworms that made him successful. My guess is that the reason you are reading this would be to learn how to raise your own earthworms and use the resulting castings or "worm dirt" for your own use and maybe sell some worms on the side.

Climate: Earthworms require a mild moist climate in order to thrive. Florida is an ideal area for growing earthworms but still has some pitfalls. Summer can be too hot and would require constant watering of the worm bed to keep them cool. If your worm bed is out doors then too much rain can flood the bed. Winters are mild in Florida but earthworms cannot survive if temperatures are too cold, and forget about freezing temps. If you live in a mild climate it would be safe to build your bed out doors, if not maybe you can use a garage or shed. On cold days you can put old blankets or pieces of carpet directly on top of the bed to help keep them warm. I will presume that you are building it out doors.

Building The Bed:You can put together a wooden square or rectangular box to raise earthworms in. Length and width will be up to you considering how large of a bed that you want or have room for. I would use 1x12 lumber. Do not use pressure treated lumber. If a board rots after awhile than replace it. So we will have a bed that is bordered on the sides and is 12" high. I do not put a bottom on the bed because I don't want to close it in too much and escape is minimal. If the earthworms dig into the ground they don't go very far because their food is always on top of the bed.

Preparing The Bed: Now that you have the four sides of the earthworm bed constructed, find a piece of level ground to put it on, preferably in the shade. You can also put a roof over the box to keep the rain out but leave room to water and feed the bed. Fill the earthworm bed with peat moss about 6" high. You can buy bags of peat moss at any garden store. My father used to order it by the dump truck load. Once you have the peat moss in the bed, water it with a garden hose. You want the bed moist at all times but not flooded. We are ready to start growing earthworms. Go to your local fresh water bait and tackle shop and see what kind of worms they sell. Do not buy "Wigglers" because they are more difficult to maintain. Look for regular "Redworms". Considering how large your earthworm bed is for example if it is 4'x6' I would buy maybe 600 earthworms to start out. Take them home and dump them out into the bed. No need to bury them they will find their way into the ground.

Feeding And Maintenance:After the worms are securely in your earthworm bed be sure to keep them watered daily. You can use a garden hose or set up a sprinkler system. They must stay moist at all times but remember never to over water. Worms feed on the peat moss in the bed but you still must feed then daily. You can use used coffee grounds or oatmeal. Just sprinkle it on top of the bed and they will come up to eat it like gold fish. I would highly suggest using feed made for earthworms. You can buy Purina Worm Chow on line. Just click the link. It is a powder and very easy to apply. Just coat the top of the earthworm bed with feed once a day. It will disappear in minutes. Do not over feed. All earthworms reproduce. There is no male and female, so if things are done correctly your first 600 worms will multiply pretty rapidly. If the peat moss level goes down, replace it with fresh peat. Simply add it on top of the bed. You don't have to mix it in. Stockpiling Castings For Compost:After about six months you will be ready to start rotating the dirt to use for composting. I use a stiff rake. Begin on one side of the bed and sift through the worms with the rake. Return the excess earthworms to the other side of the bed and take out the remaining dirt. You will use this dirt in your garden or by using a fertilizer spreader, you can fertilize your lawn with it, not to mention that worms are natural lawn aerators. Replace any dirt that you remove with fresh peat moss and start the cycle over. You may end up with an over abundance of earthworms. My only suggestion would be to try to sell them to a bait shop, (See Earthworms: Starting A Small Business) or give them away maybe to a youth group to sell. Either way too many worms is not a bad thing. This process will take time but in a year you should have a sizable stock of nutritious chemical free soil for your garden and the earthworms may help pay for it.


NOTE: If you would like to exchange relevant links with this site please send me an e-mail with your request. I am open to most links in the Home and Garden category. Do not try to sneak your URL into a comment. It's sneaky and dishonest. I will not approve such comments. Thanks, Ben

92 comments:

  1. I have friends who do this and they don't BUY anything, the whole concept consists in being eco-friendly and recycling waste.

    The nutrients they use are like kitchen scraps, old newspaper, anything digestible to the little darlin's...........

    And the castings, liquor and reproduced worms all get sold or are employed in the garden.

    This is a viable business to them.

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  2. That's fine rhys. I'm only sharing the knowledge learned from my father who raised worms as a business. If you want to feed them kitchen scraps then go ahead. If you have a half acre of worm beds then dusting them with worm feed would sound more practicable to me and probably more nutritious. Ben

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  3. Very nice information. I was wondering about growing worms this weekend and amazingly I am led to your post and I wasnt even looking for it.
    I can't wait to start growing the little buggers.

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  4. Good luck Andy,it's really not that hard to do. Just keep them warm and moist.

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  5. We use manure. Do you have any suggestions about how to grow more worms? Or different temps they like? Or different amounts of salt, minerals, acid they like? What do worms like the best?

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  6. Hi Jessica, I've never used manure so I can't tell you the effects or levels of acidity in the manure. I just know what worked for my father when he had his worm farm. We always used peat moss to replenish the soil because it was a working farm and we were constantly removing worms to sell and to transfer to other beds.
    If you have a high concentration of acid you could try adding some Dolomite to bring the level down. My Father used Dolomite occasionally when he started raising earthworms but never had to use it after his beds became more stable. It also adds calcium and magnesium to the soil. I would do some research first if I were you because I'm no chemist or expert on PH.
    To grow more worms, make sure that they have plenty of room. That may mean building a larger worm bed. We had four beds about 5'x 50' each but you don't need one that large for home.
    Avoid extreem cold and extreem heat and too much rain if your bed is outdoors. Our farm was in Florida so we didn't have those problems too often though the temp does get down to freezing sometimes. On cold nights we would cover the beds with floor carpet but we would still lose a few worms. When the temps would get too hot we kept the beds as wet as much as possible and sometimes used fans, but again we would lose a few. You can tell when you have a lot of dead worms because of the distinctive odor. It isn't a rotton or very unpleasent odor. It's more of an earthy smell.
    Earthworms love food and water. Keep the soil moist but dont over do it. If you use peat moss they will eat that, but I would still feed them other things. The easyiest food would be dry oatmeal or used coffee grounds. Manna-Pro used to make an "Earthworm and Cricket" feed in 50# bags. It was a cereal based powder that the worms loved. I called Manna-pro last year and they said that they discontinued producing it, though other companies may make it. Check with your local feed store.
    Hope this helps. Thanks, Ben

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  7. What do you think would be the best option to keeping them warm etc. in winters that can bring 20-40 degrees below zero temps?

    Iowa gets cold and the only thing that comes to my mind,would be bringing them in to a heated building. I have a shed that isn't heated etc. but would keep them from the elements. Maybe the carpet/blankets would work in there.

    Thanks for the information. Greatly appreciated.

    Dustin

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  8. Hey Dustin, I think that you answered your own question. I live in Florida so the extreme cold temps don't effect us much. It can get in the 20's though. Yes I would raise them indoors. I saw a commercial worm farm in Oklahoma that was indoors. The owner rented a store in a strip mall with a/c and heat.

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  9. i got a worm farm that is probably only 18 inches by 18 inches. can you have to many worms in one farm? i went out last night after a rain and caught about 200 or so. now i'm up to about 350 worms in 1 little farm. is that to many?

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  10. Hi Royce, yes they can get overcrowded. They need room to multiply. You need to build a larger worm bed. Maybe 4 foot by 4 foot. You may need a larger one later. After you build the bed place all of the worms into it and fill it with peat moss. They thrive in peat moss and also eat it. If you end up with more than you need you can transfer some over to your garden or give some away, or maybe sell some.
    Recycle the peat moss about every six months as explained above for the best potting soil.

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  11. I'm just looking to have a worm bed at my lake house to fish and chum. We are not here all the time. I can set up a sprinker for the moisture but can't feed them daily.

    Could you share your thoughts?

    Many thanks.

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  12. If you use peat moss instead of soil they will eat that. It's better to feed them so they don't stray looking for food. Maybe you could mix some dry oatmeal or used coffee grounds into the peat and hope it lasts until you come back. Just a thought. Even with peat moss, it's best to feed them every day so that they get big. Thanks, Ben

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  13. Do not use peat moss for worm bedding. It takes 500 years for peat to be made, and delicate peat bogs are being ruined to get cheap peat at the local hardware store. Coconut coir is a FAR better alternative. Look online for a seller, or perhaps you can find some in your town. What good does it do to make chemical-free fertilizer for your yard/garden when you destroy highly eco-sensitive and use non-renewable (in your lifetime) products to get the fertilizer???

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  14. Thanks for your post. It has been very useful for my 9 year old son. Today he decided he would like to try keeping, growing and selling earthworms. We too are in Florida (north central.

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  15. ji i live in northern utah and i was thinking of burring a plastic tub in the ground and using that fot the container would it work and it gets hott in the summer so how would i keep it cool without overwatering it and how do i keep it warm in the winter with 2-4 ft of snow????? shanks

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  16. you can also eat some of the worms if you have too many! earthworms are high in protein and good for your blood, and cheaper than any other kind of protein sold at stores!

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  17. Hi,

    I am a science teacher and I am interested in an in-door set up so that I have ample food supplies for our class pet turtle. Do I put peat moss without any soil in a container with the worms? It just seems like they need some soil. What is the smallest size container that is suitable for about 60 worms? Thanks!
    Carolyn

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  18. Hi Carolyn, My father and I have always used only peat moss but I suppose that you could mix potting soil with it as long as the majority is peat moss.

    60 worms is a good number to start out with. Try putting them in a 2 foot x 2 foot x 8 inch container. They will multiply fast. Keep the soil moist but not over wet. Sprinkle uncooked oatmeal or used coffee grounds on top every day (like feeding goldfish).

    Teachers would come to my fathers shop frequently to get worms for class projects. He always gave them away free to teachers.

    Mention what you're doing when you buy the worms, you may get lucky. Thanks, Ben

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  19. GREAT INFORMATION THANKS

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  20. Hi,

    Worms seem to be doing fine, but I have recently noticed a white fungal growth on the surface of the peat moss. I don't know if this means I am overfeeding/overwatering the worms or not. I suspect so. Worms seems fine, but I would like your advice.
    Thanks!
    Carolyn

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  21. Carolyn, I've seen this happen before, but never on a large scale. Because my beds were outdoors I usually ignored it. Since your worms are indoors I would scoop it out and flush it.

    The soil only needs to be moist, not watery. It probably evaporates slower being indoors so maybe you can cut down on the water. The food is easy to gauge. If there is no food left on top, they need to be fed. Thanks, Ben

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  22. hi....

    i am a junior doctor....and at the same time intrested in side bussiness,which is benificial to me and our mother earth.... i had two options 1)biofertilizer production which is expensive...2)worm culter....i think this is the better option,and i was not intrested in buying raw material...can i use... saw dust,vegitable waste,paper..etc... and the ultimate problem is to get worms...here we dont have shops for worms...i want right place to find worms.....our normal temperature is 34......

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  23. Srinivas, You should grow your worms indoors. You can find worms on the Internet and have them shipped to you.

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  24. THANX BEN................

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  25. HEY..... BEN YOU DINT ANSWERED MY QUESTION.....CAN I USE..SAW DUST,PAPER,VEGITABLE AND MEAT WASTE AS FOOD FOR WORMS

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  26. I wouldn't feed them with saw dust, paper, or meat. Maybe vegetable waste, but not too much. I would prefer uncooked oatmeal or used (moist) coffee grounds. They also eat the soil that they are in.

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  27. hi I have found everything you have posted on your site to be exactly what i needed to continue my venture in producing worms thanx Ben

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  28. Hi Ben,
    I live in Orlando Florida and am interested in raising worms on a small scale for a secondary income. I have always been interested in earth ecology and have always had an ability to care for plants and animals.

    I have a large yard with a open garden shed that I think would be a good place to start. It's about 12'x16'.

    I have read quite a bit about vermiculture, but am not quite sure af the current market in 2010 and the profitability per square foot of space.

    From your blog and background, I sense you're a realist about this sort of business.

    Some of my questions are:
    Would multi-layer beds be better? easier?
    Can I build a wooden multi layer home for the worms?
    What is the approximate yield and profit per sq/ft?
    Would feeding be better with kitchen waste or purchased worm feed?
    What pests are a killing problem in central Florida?
    What other questions that are more importand should I be asking?

    Can you shed some light on an endevour such as this that I have in mind?

    Thanks,
    Bob Fryer

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  29. HI Bob, I'll try but keep in mind that my father closed his worm farm over 10 years ago and retired. I'm not up on today's market so I can't help you as far as profit goes.

    We didn't have the Internet in those days but a web site may be a good idea. There a few already out there so maybe you could order a few worms to find out how they preserve them for shipping. We never shipped our worms. We sold them directly to fishermen by the cup. You could also sell them to local bait and tackle shops and establish a route.

    There is a demand now for worm castings or used dirt that could also be profitable but may take a while to establish. You should recycle the bed every 6 months and bag up the old dirt to sell.

    I've never tried a multi layer bed and don't see why it wouldn't work. I prefer a bottomless bed so that the worms can dig into the natural soil below. They won't run away unless it gets too hot or cold. A wooden bed will work but the wood rots over a period of time and needs to be replaced. We used metal sheets, the corrugated kind from metal buildings. They work well and don't rust, but may be expensive or hard to find. Go to a scrap yard, they might have some.

    I don't know if there is a prescribed gauge for counting how many per square foot, but I do know that the density of the bed is consistent. In other words, if you pull out 50 worms in your hand from one end of the bed, you can get a handful of 50 from the other end.
    Use your own gauge, maybe a 1 pound coffee can. Fill it up and count the worms. That will give you an approximate count. We only sold them by the cup and counted by hand. You can weed out the babies that way.

    I would highly recommend using purchased worm feed. We used 20 pound bags of Manna-Pro but unfortunately they discontinued that brand of worm feed. You may have to search the web for other brands. I'm not sure if kitchen waste would work. It can get smelly, cause mold and attract animals. The bagged worm feed is a powder and is quickly eaten by the worms leaving no mess.

    Pests do occur in bottomless beds. Ants, moles, and an occasional armadillo or possum. Sprinkle Amdro or other ant killer around the bed. We set traps for the armadillos and possums and set them free in the woods. Can't do much about the moles because they work underground.

    You have a good idea. I wish I could set up a few worm beds but I don't have the time or money. It takes a lot of physical work to get started, and recycling gets pretty tough. Lots of shoveling. If you have a lot of square footage you would want to buy the peat moss by the yard from a wholesaler. It would be delivered by dump truck and you can keep a stock pile. Our peat moss came from Titusville Fl. but I don't remember who the seller was. Good luck, Ben

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  30. I have 4 acres of cleared pastures. It is sandy type soil and I am trying to build the soil to make a more nutritious Pasture for my horses.
    Can I buy earth worms and turn them loose onto my pastures? Will they survive?

    Thanks,
    Lisa volusia county area Fl.

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  31. Four acres is a lot of area. Start out with a small area. Buy a couple of cups of worms from the local bait and tackle store and turn them loose. Keep the area moist as possible but don't flood it. They'll probably eat the horse manure so throw some horse patties on top. If it doesn't get too cold or hot they should survive.

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  32. Can I grow blood worms for fishing the same way?

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  33. Hi Miss Margaret, I don't know much about blood worms but I believe that they grow in water. Earthworms grow in moist soil, so I don't believe that you can grow them the same way. I may be wrong. Ben

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  34. hey ben would like plastic rain barrels work.

    p.s. im doing it indoors.

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  35. Never used them but they do sell plastic bins. I would cut them down and not use the whole barrel. Try using only one first to see if it works. Ben

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  36. My husband is interested in having me supply his fishing worms so he doesn't have to buy them. I garden so I figured I could use the free castings too. How many worms and how big a plot should I start with for him to be able to take 25-30 worms a day and still have enough to keep going? We live in Michigan (where it freezes in the winter) so I was thinking of trying to do it in some sort of rubbermaid-type plastic tub so it is moveable in the winter. Thanks for the help, Brenda (& Lee)

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  37. Hi Brenda, I don't know if moving them around would be a good idea. If you have a back yard shed or garage to put them in, that would be great. They should be in the shade. A Rubbermaid container my not be big enough to produce enough castings for your garden. Use at least a 4'x4' 8 to 12 inch high container. It could get pretty heavy to move around with the soil, water, and worms inside.

    Fill the container with peat moss (not to the top). Buy a couple of cups of worms from the bait shop and empty them into the container. Keep them watered and fed. They will multiply fast. Change the peat moss every 6 months and use the old soil for your garden.

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  38. hi
    thanks for all your input. This is all great!
    We build a small worm house today with the kids.
    Our yard is very small so space is a big concern but i wanted to give the kids the experience of it and can use the castings.
    Our "house" for them is a cube of about 18 inches. This is all we have for space. Do you think it would be ok?
    How many worms do you think we should have in there?
    thanks for the help
    julie

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  39. Hi Julie, the house sounds pretty small and it's hard to regulate the volume of worms. For something that small I would go to a local bait and tackle shop and buy maybe 50 redworms. Some shops sell them in cups of 50. Pour the whole cup into your prepared bed. If you care for them the right way they will multiply fast so you may have to eventually make a larger bed.

    If you end up with an over abundance you can always take some out and move them to a flower bed or give some away. Ben

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  40. Hi Ben,
    Thanks for sharing all of your megadrile knowledge with the rest of us! I live in Wyoming and of course there is still snow on the ground here but it did rain last night! On my early morning walk the roads and driveways were literally covered with huge earthworms! I do like to catch and eat fish, so I have spent a few dollars on these wonderful little critters!:) Anyway...It was under 40 degrees and they were not moving too quickly and I hated to think of them being run over by all the cars that would soon be headed to work! Needless to say I came home with over 200 huge worms and want to keep them alive...not just for the few times I will go fishing in a few months! I have (2) 29"L X 10"W X 12"H wooden flower pots on my porch with potting soil from last year...can I put them all in these until I can make something better? Also...I had heard that you can feed them corn meal...have you heard anything about that? Thanks for sharing! Sue

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  41. Hi Sue, free worms, can't beat that. They were probably trying to get warm. Go ahead and put them in the flower pots. They should be OK unless the soil freezes.

    I usually suggest uncooked oatmeal or used wet coffee grounds, but I don't see why corn meal wouldn't work. Actually, I never thought of corn meal.

    Try to get a container made soon. If they live, 200 worms can multiply fast. Ben

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  42. How about an old childs swimming pool. Drill holes in the sides and bottom of pool for drainage, put the peat moss in it and feed as you directed with used coffee grounds and/or oatmeal. Would it work? I also thought of a used garbage can with holes drilled in it that I saw on the internet. But the park we live in is sensitive over it's grass preservation, so maybe the pool wouldn't work. Thanks for all the wonderful information you have provided. I hope to get the worms, peat moss and a garbage can this week end. Janine

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  43. Hi Janine, the pool sounds like a good idea. Maybe you can put it on a concrete slab or a wooden deck instead of on the grass. As for feeding, I found an advertiser "Organic Worm Farm" that sells "Purina Worm Chow". Thanks, Ben

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  44. I bought red wiggler eggs from a local supplier to help my compost bin. I also really love worms! Mine have hatched into HUGE FAT worms and the compost looks fabulous. I wanted to mention that you can buy bricks of coir from www.gardeners.com - they are super compacted and you keep sprinkling water on them to expand them. I sprinkle some in my bin a couple of times a week and all looks good. I'm worried about winter, though - I live in WI. =(

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  45. Thanks Ben,
    Some of my worms died in the refrigerator because it was too cold, before I could put them in the plastic bin with the drilled holes in it and peat moss. Some of them are alive this morning. I gave them coffee grounds.
    Thanks for the tip on the worm food. Maybe they will start selling it at Walmart. Does pouring the coffee grounds directly on the worms kill them? The same way pouring salt on a leach kills it, by upsetting the chemical makeup up the worm, as it doesn't have a skin or other barrier to protect it? Thank you. Janine

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  46. Janine, sprinkle the grounds over the top of the peat moss, try to seperate the grounds. Not much chance of Walmart selling worm feed. Thanks, Ben

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  47. how big of a population of worms do you think it would take to be able to harvest 1-2 lbs of worms every couple of weeks?

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  48. It would depend on the size of the bed. I've never used weight as a factor. I've always counted the worms, though 1-2 pounds every other week sounds minimal.

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  49. I've been looking around, and it says that the standard for worms is about 1000 worms equals to a pound, so do you think that if I had a bed of 10,000 to 20,000 that they would reproduce fast enough so that I can take out 1000-2000 worms every other week to sell and not cause a reduction in the population? And do you have any recommendations of what density of worms per square feet you should have to optimize worm reproduction

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  50. If you end up with too many worms, consider finding a local wildlife rehabilitator who takes in orphaned and injured robins. Worms are a big dietary staple for robins and getting enough to feed hungry babies in the spring can get expensive so they'd really appreciate a donation of them.

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  51. hi Mr. Willis,
    I am thinking of making a worm farm with my new niece and nephew. I got them hooked in fishing let alone my girlfriend she had to go get a pink fishing pole anyways i live in illinois and it snows here. any ideas of how should make one and i do have a garage if that helps thank you

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  52. Hi,

    I have been reading these posts and have been trying to find out if you are adding top soil to the Peat Moss or are you just using peat moss to grow the worms. Also if it is just the Peat moss that you are using how will you know when can use it for composting?

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  53. I just use peat moss. Nothing else. Hard to tell when it's ready. I would give it about six months of worm activity. The peat moss should have plenty of nutrients by then. Take the old peat moss out (or as much as you can) and use for compost. Replace with fresh peat and recycle again six months later.

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  54. We're going to start a business selling worms,but we don't know how to get anyone to buy them,and we don't know anyone to sell it to.

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  55. Thanks Ben ,for the right information. I am starting a new farm at my home with the aim to get compost for my farm .now I am using chemical fertilizers.That reduced the production .So I am looking for echo friendly fertilizers.
    Babu Varghese

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  56. Hi could you not just use lots of leaves mixed with soil for bedding and feed leaves and other garden waste as food

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  57. I suppose so, but I've never tried it. I guess it would depend on the type of soil that you mix in. I like peat moss because I know that it works.

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  58. BEN. thanks for your informstion can used i used chincken drop , saw duct mix soil as my soil. pleased kind you tell what can soil or compost mixture would i used in africa to grow good worm. if you have book to recommend kindly let me know . once again big thanks for all your information. iam going to try it in nigeria

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  59. Hi Ben,
    Very good and simple information about growing earthworms. I am living in Georgia your neighboring State. Do you think instead of buying red worms, I could directly collect from my yard and transfer them into the outdoor bed that can be prepared following your protocol? I see lots of earthworms in my yard.

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  60. Thanks Ben. This week got snow but next week I will start the bed

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  61. Hello
    Its nice to read such comprehensive article. I want to grow earthworms as poultry feed. I live in Pakistan. I want to know what kind of food stuff i can give to worms?

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  62. You are a wealth of information! Are redworms the same thing as "wigglers"? Are they considered an invasive species? The man at my local eco store told me not to put them in my open bottom composter because they are an invasive species. Is this right? Do you know of a worm species that I could use? THANKS!

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  63. Hi Bonnie, it depends on where you're at. Different regions have different names. Where I live, red worms and wigglers are different worms. Wigglers are smaller and they "wiggle" profusely. Red worms are longer and slower.

    It depends on what you mean by invasive. I think of invasive as something that multiplies quickly and takes over the territory. Most people raise worms because they do multiply quickly. That's the point.

    Some eco-minded people will find something bad in anything, even something as natural as earthworms. Take his advice with a grain of salt. Thanks, Ben

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  64. hi Mr. ben Can you email me please. how make one inside a house or just hanging on the window for keeping earthworms.. i want to make a small farm.. because i am keeping a fish. and earthworms are really a good if not the best treat a owner could give because they are filled with vitamins and nutrients. just a simple farm. small enough to fit a small container or a bucket because i wanna keep just enough to feed my fish time to time not always... your are realy a expert to this please. my email is patrick21_noni@yahoo.com thank you so much...

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  65. This is a fantastic website full of useful information! I would like to grow earthworms in an old raised bed that we use for the garden. The wood was pressure treated, which I know is not ideal for vegetables or earthworms, but it is 20+ years old. Should I empty the soil from the raised beds then fill them with peat moss? Will this wood be ok as it is so old that the chemicals are now gone? Thanks again for such a great website!

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  66. Oh - one more thing. I am in Virginia. Can I still keep them outside in the raised bed?

    Thanks again,

    Mandy

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  67. Hi Mandy, yes, I would use peat moss. It wouldn't hurt to keep the old wood.

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  68. what about tea grounds

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  69. My daughters and I are in the process of raising worms for our personal fishing stock. Going back and forth to the bait shop all summer can get a little pricey.
    This info. has been very helpful---thanks a lot

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  70. yesterday (May4/2011 I cleaned the leaves and garbage that accumulated over the top of the culvert cover in the bottom of the ditch in my front yard.It is about 2 feet down at the end of a low slope that is about 300 feet long,so a lot of junk gets blown in every fall/winter and spring.I collected about 100 small and baby size worms in the decomposing leaves and sandy soil there was down there.I just put them in a used ice cream container that I had handy close by when I started to find the worms.Therefore I just put some of the wet decomposing leaves in the container as they seemed to like the organic material.Today I will clean up more of the ditch and keep any more worms I find,and then find or build a larger "home" for free fishing bait to grow big and fat and multiply.I figure I will keep a bag full of the otherwise garbage leaves to feed the critters.I also mulched some broccoli stems in my blender and added it on top.Will let you know how my luck is at "worm-farming" goes in month or so.BTW I live in northern Ontario Canada and it is still dipping down to the freezing point or lower at night so for now I have my little darlings inside at night.
    Terry :)

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  71. My brother spends about $5 to $10 per week for earthworms for fishing...can you please let me know how to set up an earthworm farm for an individual with just a small area to do so...what kind of soil...what kind of food...how wet?...just an idea for a personal earthworm farm.
    Thanks

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  72. when i was about 12 years old up in northern ca. my grandfather had a co. called shasta bait service and we supplied red worms and other baits to the local resorts and lake shops
    He had his worm beds under rabbit hutches
    and the droppings just fell in the beds which we would water lightly and turn with a pitch fork.
    Grandma added veggie scraps, eggshells and coffee grounds.
    i maintained the rabbits and the worm beds
    good times and must have picked a million worms
    Sold the cleaned rabbits to local eateries
    thanks ben for good info.

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  73. I live in Michigan and it gets really cold. How do you keep the worms over the winter months when it freezes?

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  74. Karen, I've seen indoor worm farms in cold climates.

    A personal worm farm should be small enough to move indoors during cold season. It can get into the 20's here in S. Florida. During cold days, we would cover the worm bed with old carpeting. We lost a few, but overall it worked. Ben

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  75. Sharon from Omah,Ne,May 31, 2011 at 11:42 PM

    Ben, I love all of your information. Someone told me that you shouldn't use Ne. night crawlers in the same way you have described, as far as bedding and food. They said they have to be kept cold or they would die. So I put some of my worms in the fridge and they did not like it. I even turned it down low. I was thrilled when I saw you comment to a woman that it would be fine to use regular old garden night crawlers. My worms seem to love it and I can see that they are eating the food. Thanks again, loved reading the comments.

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  76. Forgive if I rehash any ideas....I got tired of reading and skipped to the bottom. I have raised nightcrawlers for years. I have a compost pile 4x10' about 4' deep. I keep it that deep so there is area on the bottom cool/warm enough to survive year round in Illinois. I go out to neighbors and collect bagged fall leaves. I lay them out and run over with a lawn mover a couple times. I can reduce 10 bags to 1 that way. If they are good and dry I then store them in heavy duty plastic construction bags with taped tops, turned upside down. If you have a wood shop near planer chips work also. Anyone with a horse who beds on wood chips typically will give you all the compost you ever need. Mix the leaves with fresh grass clippings. This should be the top 1/3 of the pile. I grew a large brushy tree next to my pile on purpose. It shades it in summer but there are plastic shade nettings that work just as well...double them. You can even stretch them across the box and place a layer of styrofoam panel on the first one then stretch the second and cover the foam. This will add plenty of shade to keep the pile cool in summer. If you leave the bottom open the worms will go into the earth if too cold but will return as soon as temp is ok. My pile works year round and in 15 years I have never removed anything except worms from the pile for fishing and for feed for tropical fish. The pile is constantly consuming everything I put in it. I even added 200ft of old stockade fence(spruce...untreated) cut into 6-8" pieces. It took over a year but they consumed everything. I add no food scraps but cornmeal or chicken starter mash or oatmeal will fatten them up quick if they're too lean when you harvest. In the pile they will be relatively small due to crowding. Seperate the larger ones into tubs of fresh material. Place damp leaves/grass clippings in plastic bags for a couple of weeks until decomp starts and then place in tubs with worms and they fatten very quickly...especially if you water with well/rain water....no chlorine. Tap doesn't seem to bother worms but will slow decomp and its the decomp the worms feed on. I raise 8-12" nightcrawlers that don't require refridgeration this way...by the thousands. If you livenear any sit down style restaurants you might ask if you supplied them with a 5-20 gallon container if they would throw old coffee grounds into it that you could pick up every few days. If you take wood chips or leaves and soak them in coffe soup(from grounds) and make a bag out of coarse burlap...cut several 1/2" holes on 1 side. Fill with the leaves/wood chips& coffee grounds(wet)...lay on the ground in a well shaded area and water through with cold water (coffe soup) in a matter of a few days the bag will be full of worms....just pick it up and empty onto a plastic sheets and hravest....refill....repeat.

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  77. As for the personal worm farm it's difficult to raise a lot of worms without a sizeable pile. Nothing likes to be crowded. You could however maintain a ready supply in a 10 or 20 gallon lidded container in your house. In the basement would be best but if you use ac and it's 70 or below that's fine. Peat moss mixed with shredded newspaper or cardboard works fine. Buy online in bulk and add to container. I would take a piece of brlap and place about 2-3" below final surface. Add dampened peat moss on top of burlap..leave all sides lonenough to collect and lift out every few days. Feed corn meal, oatmeal,better yet chick starter mash every 2-3 days....under the burlap. By covering it you will cut down on gnats. Gnat larvae will attack worms. Basement also better location because gnats prefer warmer

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  78. Ben, I have looked all over for your email address to ask some questions and could not find it.
    I have 5 acres in FL and would like to grow red worms and night crawlers, I have a good sized pond and really don't want to run to buy worms. I am working on several projects and rather than list them all I will just say this: I want to be self sufficient, get off the grid and be conpletely organic on my own land with growing everything and supplying my own electricity and water without depending on outside sources for my existance. I have never tried to grow worms in Florida, so I need all the help I can get. I grew up in Michigan so am familiar with red worms and crawlers but don't know how to grow them in Fl I would appreciate all the info I can get on growing redworms and nightcrawlers. Can both be grown together or do they require seperate space and needs. Your website is very informational on redworms but I need info on growing night crawlers also can you give me some info please? my email address is: floridlady@yahoo.com thanks

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  79. Dear Ben,
    I have recently started my worms in commercially bought worm beds. The idea was to use kitchen scraps(vegetable)to feed the worms. Unfortunately, this has led to maggots in with the worms. Will the maggots hurt the worms? How can I get rid of the maggots without harming the worms myself? I, also, live in central Florida. I hope this heat does not cause me problems. Thanks for your help.
    MaryS

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  80. Hi Florida Lady, Google is having problems, so I have to reply as "Anonymous". I apologize, the contact info was hidden. It's at the top of the page now. Most of the info you need to get started should be on this page. It may be a trial and error thing, but I suggest that you start small until you get a knack.

    We always grew different worms separately only because we sold them separately. If you're growing them for only the casings, I don't see why they couldn't grow together.

    I hope that you're growing native plants on your property and removing invasive exotics like Brazilian Pepper and Melaleuca. I'm really big on that. Thanks, Ben

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  81. Hi Mary, scrap the kitchen scraps and use oatmeal, used coffee grounds, or something like Purina Worm Chow.

    I don't know if the maggots will hurt the worms, but they will eventually turn into flies and fly away. I would stay away from feeding them something that will rot.. Yes the heat down here is a big problem. Keep them in the shade and wet, but not over wet. Thanks, Ben

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  82. Hello, I'm fro Bangladesh. Instead of moss I saw the use of cow-dung here. rest of the process are same.But it's bit difficult to get so much cow-dung if the number of earth worm is very high.

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  83. Ben, thank you so much for all your time posting your info. I am desperate and have read every word on this website twice but my worms keep disappearing. I am using a 2' wideX1.5'longX1'high plastic container because I only want to grow a few worms. I drilled 100 or so small holes in the bottom and sides, filled with 10" of peat moss, and put 30 or so worms from the bait shop in and got the peat moss damp but not soggy. I sprinkled oat flakes on the top. I live in FL and my container is outside in the shade. The next day, none of my flakes had been disturbed and half of my worms were missing. The next day, all the worms were gone.

    I got more worms and made a second attempt. Same results. I then made a third attempt. No luck. I prop the lid to my container up in such a way that rain cannot drown the worms and they seem to be getting enough air.

    I am puzzled by your precaution to not over water. Since I was not having any success, on the third attemp, I tried to over water. But the water just goes through the peat moss like it is sand. No matter how much water I put in, when I run my hand through the top 4 or 5 inches, (or for that matter, the whole 10") the peat moss is still just moist. What am I doing wrong?
    Desperate Sam

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  84. Hi Sam, This is Ben posting as anonymous (problem with Google). It sounds like your container is too small and they need more room. Try making a larger container out of plywood (just a square or rectangular frame about 1' to 1 1/2' high with no bottom), set it on hard ground and don't drill holes. Fill it with peat moss and prepare the same way as you did the old container.

    The worms will dig into the soil underneath the peat but should stay in the bed as long as there is food.

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  85. Hi! I was wondering if the Red wigglers are hard to maintaine? I noticed you said "wigglers" are harder to maintaine, so are the red wigglers the same?
    Thanks so much!
    -Mickey

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  86. hai,it was nice and precise very useful for me

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  87. What part of Florida was your father located? I had a friend that I went to high school with and his father did this for many years.

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  88. Can I use pt. lumber to build a box

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  89. Hi bernie7044. My father was in Lee County.

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  90. Do not use PT lumber to build a box.

    You'll have to replace the old lumber as it rots.

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