Worm farming is a great way to reduce the amount of waste you produce at home, and provide your family with nutritious food in the process. Red wiggler worms are probably one of the most common types of worm that people keep for this purpose, and they're very easy to care for - but there are still some things you should know before getting started.
In this blog post I'll go over what red wigglers need to stay healthy and happy, so you can be confident that your farm is producing enough protein-rich fertilizer for everyone!
What are red wiggler worms and what do they need to survive?
Red wiggler worms are also commonly referred to as redworms, and they're one of the most common types of worm used for composting. They have a high tolerance for different conditions, so if you live in an area with cold winters or hot summers, these are probably your best option - but no matter where you are, there are a few things they need to stay happy. PS. For happy and healthy trees, we share our tips here.
How do red wigglers survive winter?
While some people might worry about what happens when it gets cold, you just have to make sure that your composting system is insulated well enough from the outside elements - and keep in mind that if you live in an area with really harsh winters this could pose a problem.
PS. Not sure how much castings you should use in your soil? Find out our healthy recommendations by clicking here.
What do red wigglers eat?
We've already talked about what kind of worms you have in your composting system, but that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with knowing more! Red wiggler worms are omnivores and will happily consume almost any type of food scraps - although they prefer to feed on plant matter.
What is the life cycle of red wigglers?
Red wiggler worms are one of the most common types you'll find in a worm farm, and their lifecycle is relatively short - meaning it won't take your composting system long to go from an empty bin to full! The female will lay her eggs about once per week - anywhere from 50-150 eggs per time. Eggs will hatch in about a week, and the worms themselves may only live for one year at most.
How to care for red wiggler worms in your worm bin?
Red wiggler worms require a relatively mild temperature, between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (18-29 Celsius). They do best in moist environments with at least some cover such as leaves or sticks.
Why is it important to take good care of your red wigglers?
Worms may be small, but they break down organic material in your compost bin and help make the environment more hospitable to other critters. It's important not to let them get too cold or hot - once temperatures drop below about 50 degrees Fahrenheit (about 15 Celsius) and rise above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 Celsius), worms will die.
The Food Worms Eat
Worms can eat just about any type of organic matter, including vegetables, bread and fruits.
Keeping Worm Population in Check
Your worm population will grow rapidly if you don't harvest them regularly. You should be harvesting a pound or two (0.45 to 0.90 kilograms) of worms every two weeks, but some people extract up to a pound (0.45 kilogram) in one session.
The benefits of having red wiggler worms in your home or garden
- Worms will convert your organic waste into rich, fertile compost that can then be used to fertilize plants and vegetables in your garden or home.
- The byproduct of a worm farm is castings - which are essentially little pellets of soil high in nutrients for the garden. You'll also have plenty of fresh vermicomposting, which can be used to fertilize plants in your home or garden.
- Worm composting doesn't create any foul odor like other organic waste methods and is a great way of recycling food scraps from the kitchen.
- Worms will aerate the soil, which promotes better root growth for plants.
- Red wiggler worms are also a great source of free food! They can be harvested and eaten periodically (their taste is comparable to that of oysters).
- What temperature do red wigglers prefer? The ideal range for most red wigglers is between 55 and 75 degrees, with the temperature range varying depending on what life stage they're in.
- What food do they eat? Red wiggler worms can be fed all sorts of household refuse - coffee grounds, tea leaves, fruit or vegetable peels and cores (no citrus), egg shells, chicken/turkey/fish bones (no cooked bones), and even some dairy products.
- What is their life cycle? Worms are classified as hermaphrodites, meaning each individual worm possesses both male and female sex organs. When they mate, the sperm fertilizes an egg inside the worm's body before it develops into an embryo that then forms into a cocoon. The eggs can be collected from the worm farm and then produced as hatching larvae.
How to harvest the compost from the worm bin?
- The compost can be harvested from the worm bin whenever it's ready and moved to a new container where it will continue to decompose. There are also some other methods of harvesting that involve periodically removing all the worms from their home, separating out the valuable compost in another container for use while putting the now well-fed worms back into their new home.
- Worm bins should be emptied and cleaned periodically to prevent them from becoming too compacted with food waste, which can cause the composting process to slow down or fail altogether.
Red wigglers as pets, how you can get started with caring for them:
- Worms are a great pet, and they can be cared for with as little or much work as you want to put into it.
- The basics of worm care is fairly simple--just keep them in a large container filled with food scraps and bedding material like shredded paper or cardboard until the worms have made enough compost that all your worms can be transferred to the garden.
- The most important thing is to make sure you have a perfect balance of food for your worms and bedding material, or they'll start to smell bad and stop producing compost as quickly.
Red wigglers are very hearty worms and can handle many different living conditions and weather. If you live in hot or cold climates and want to start a worm bin red wigglers are probably your best option.