What? Raising worms? Seriously?
Yep, raising worms! Why are we going to talk about raising worms? Because worms are pretty cool. You might know a little about worms - about how they’re good for plants and soil. Kids seem to love them. Robins hopping across the lawn really love worms. But did you know that raising your own worms in your own compost is the easiest way to get high quality garden compost and mulch for your landscape? It’s also a great way to recycle vegetable food scraps, which is good especially during the summer when food scraps in the garbage can really get hot and smelly fast.
If you’re one of the millions of good folk who have a few chickens in the back yard, worms make an absolutely fantastic treat that’s high in great protein and minerals. In the summer, chicken bodies may slow down the laying because of the heat. They are also preparing their bodies for a revamp with the fall molt coming and winter approaching. They need all the extra protein and minerals they can get at this time. And, of course, if you or someone in your family is an avid fisherman, the worms make great free bait. The best part is, raising worms is a clean and discreet hobby that you can hide! No need to explain yourself to the nosy acquaintances. So how do you do it?
In a nutshell, all you really need to raise your own worms is a compost area and the worms. That’s it. Most people keep their worms in containers with compost to keep the worms from escaping and easy to find. You can do this by simply purchasing composting red worms online ready to go, and adding them to your existing composting container. You can also buy simple easy to set up worm starter kits like these.
Once your worms begin to go to work in a new compost pile, they will grow and multiply fast. Worms don’t like to be over crowded, so regular harvesting is essential to a happy compost bin of worms. This should be an easy endeavor if you have chickens and a fishing fanatic in the family. It’s simplest to remove the larger, older worms as you go. If you end up wanting to grow a larger amount and get more involved, you will have to learn how to separate the young worms from the adults and on and on- but that’s big business and not necessary for the small compost bin.
Here are some other things to keep in mind about raising worms in your compost:
- Worms need to stay moist and cool. Keep your wormy compost bin in the shade during the hot summer months and check it to make sure it’s not drying out. If it is drying, add a little water to keep the composting happening and the worms from dehydrating. Do not soak the compost to the point of retaining water.
- Worms are vegetarians, so stick to vegetable and fruit scraps. They will also eat coffee grounds and egg shells.
- If you live in an area where everything freezes hard, even underground, you can bring your worms into a basement or garage- but keep them from freezing. In most areas around the US, if you have a big enough worm bin and you keep it going actively really well, the composting and worms will create enough heat in the compost to keep it from freezing.
- When you want to remove the compost for using in your garden, simply spread out a bucket full of compost with worms on it on a screen or flat surface, and pick out the worms before you use it in your garden. You can feed your picked out worms to chickens or pack them up with a little compost for fishing.