How to Raise Worms (Raising Them The Right Way)

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Raising worms is not an easy task.

It can be time-consuming and expensive.

You have to do it the right way or else your worm farm will fail. 

But don’t worry! We’ve got you covered with our comprehensive guide on how to raise worms.

Our Key Takeaways

  • Find or buy composting worms like red wigglers or nightcrawlers (worms tend to to surface during rainy days)
  • Find a worm bin or worm bins (a container, bucket or bin)
  • Worm bins can either be buried into your garden soil with organic waste or be standalone outdoor worm bins
  • Create a worm bed or worm beds (worm bedding material can include peat moss, the soil you found them in, grass clippings and brown waste like shredded newspaper, among other organic material)
  • Keep bedding for worms moist but not soaking wet
  • Worms feed on and eat vegetable scraps, fruit and “browns” like shredded paper.
  • Worms can consume half of their bodyweight per day (start with half of this – you can add scraps weekly)
  • Worms reproduce rapidly and newly hatched worms can take over worm beds quickly. If you have an explosion of baby worms, add another bucket by harvesting earthworms and putting the excess population in to the new bin (or release them into the soil)

Raising Earthworms To Live In a Worm Bin or Worm Farm in Your Garden

On the quest to raise worms, the first thing you need to do is dig up some dirt, preferably on a rainy day. 

Then put this dirt into a container (a bucket or bin will suffice). 

If there are no plants around (like if it’s winter), then make sure to add some dead or dying leaves and vegetables. 

Remember, the food scraps should be fairly fresh! (A bit of decomposition is fine, but totally rotten or moldy isn’t ideal for your worm bin and may attract pests.)

Afterward, place something like a newspaper on top of the dirt; make sure to cover this with a breathable material that has very tiny holes一cheesecloth works well for this purpose.

Leave the container alone until springtime when everything starts growing again. Try not to look at it until then. 

Where to Get Your Earthworms?

You can try to attract worms into your garden and worm bins naturally, or purchase them.

If you’re taking the natural route, you should see a bunch of worms in your container depending on the season and temperatures.

If not, then it probably didn’t work out and you’ll need to try again.

Alternatively, many worm growers buy red worms or African night crawlers (or the European/Canadian worm species) for their worm farms from live fishing bait stores and add them to their compost pile

Now that you have earthworms, whether naturally or from a fish bait shop, you can start feeding them scraps of food and organic matter you have lying around.

What Do Worms Eat For Survival?

Worms eat anything organic, but it must be fresh or slightly decomposing – this means not completely rotten (they’ll eat it, but you’ll also attract pests!). 

They can survive on scraps of vegetables, bread, pasta, and fruit一even citrus fruit like oranges (but keep these to a minimum)! 

Don’t give your worms meat or dairy products for the reason we discussed above – attracting pests and foul smells.

Dairy includes milk or cheese, and meat includes any red meat, fish, or poultry.

The Cost Of Raising Worms At Home

You shouldn’t expect to spend much for the entire process of raising worms from start to finish. (Besides your worm bin cost if you are buying one instead of building one yourself.)

The only thing you’ll be spending money on is new vegetables or fruit every once in a while. This is usually less than $10 per month.

In real world terms, worm farmers on a small scale don’t pay anything for food for their worm farm.

Let me explain; since raising earthworms is a free way to dispose of your food scraps which your household have eaten and would have thrown away anyway – worm farming on a small scale is practically free.

Depending on how big your bin is, you may also need to buy compost or materials for worm beds ($25-$75 every two months). 

Neither of these ongoing expenses is mandatory or necessary, though, unless you don’t have anything suitable at home already for your worm farm.

How Do I Know If It’s Working?

If there is earthworm waste at the bottom of your container, then it means everything is working out! 

After about 6 weeks or so, this waste product should be dark brown and have a very earthy smell.

This is called composting or worm castings, which looks like dirt but contains nutrients that plants need to grow rapidly. 

You may also see larger pieces of food scraps throughout the dirt and worm castings that have turned into compost.

How Do I Move The Worms into My Garden?

raising worms in container buried in garden

To move the worms from their container to your garden, you should put some dirt and leaves at the bottom of a new bin or bucket.

Then add water so that it’s moist but not too wet. Anything more than 25% humidity may drown your worms. You can test this with moisture control instruments. 

Once this has been done, you can dump all the contents of your worm farm into this container and wait for about 10 minutes.

During this time, the water will have softened up all the dirt and left only compost at the bottom; then, after 10 minutes, you can pour out any excess water that’s leftover.

Next, make sure there are no earthworms left in the soil that hasn’t turned into compost, and then you can leave this to dry for a few days.

After about 4-5 days, the moisture should be all gone (this process is called dehydration).

Your worms will now be able to survive outdoors, as long as they have plenty of soil around them.

The best way to do this is by turning their soil every week, using a small shovel and digging up some of their dirt, spreading it across the garden bed, and replacing it with new dirt.

Ensure there’s no space between the worm bed and whatever other plants are growing nearby!

Life Duration Of Worms

Earthworms live anywhere from 1 year to 10 years if they’re well taken care of. 

If you’re wondering how to identify a healthy worm from an unhealthy one, then look for its color. The ends of it should be bright red or orange and not dull brown or yellow.

You can also tell if it’s old or young by looking at its size. 

Small fertilized worms are less than ¼-inch tall, and larger mature worms are over 2 inches. 

You should be aware of a worm’s life cycle if you want to know how to raise worms.

Check Oxygen Levels In The Container

Your worms will die if they don’t get enough oxygen, which is why you need to create tiny holes in your worm bin if it’s a closed system (with a closed lid) and check on them regularly to make sure that they’re still alive. 

If you notice the water level has risen too high, empty it and leave the container for an hour or so to dry; this should take care of it.

Where Do You Find Worms?

You can find worms (and earthworms) in dirt or soil anywhere there are plants. 

To make sure the soil contains earthworms, look for dark patches of soil. These are their worm castings and where they’ve burrowed.

It should look different from the rest of the surrounding area. 

These are good places to start digging.

To Summarize Raising Worms in a Worm Farm

Raising worms is a lot of fun and should be manageable for anyone looking to do so and start worm farming. 

Whether you want to learn how to raise worms for fishing worms or to sell worms, this article should have given you all the information you need! 

By following these steps, your worms will grow strong and produce wonderful fertilizer that you can use to enrich the soil in your garden.

Enjoy turning your food scraps into nutritious organic fertilizer for your garden soil and enjoy your worm farm experience like so many earthworm growers before you.

You can also learn more about raising worms for fishing.