Earthworms live in the earth -- but not just any earth.
If it’s too wet, too dry, too sandy, or too hot, they go some place
else (usually straight down) or die.
Delicious red wiggler earthworms from the backyard.
Worms. Your best worms are
the young worms you dig up in the spring when spading your garden.
They are the best size for feeding to most fishes and taste the best
(take our word for it, no need to try this at home). You have
to dig these yourself. Occasionally,
they are sold at bait houses.
Worms. The nastiest worms
are those stinky, little red worms with yellow guts sold as compost makers.
These stinky worms (also known as dung worms) smell even worse if you
break them in half. They even
make terrible fish bait. You buy
these through the mail. (And you
can make thousands of dollars of extra income selling them to other would be
worm farmers.) You may not grow filthy rich raising worms, but you can
achieve the filthy part of that goal. At least it’s good clean dirt.
Tasty nightcrawlers from the bait house. Refrigerate them.
Big barbs like nightcrawlers.
Big froggies love nightcrawlers.
Even big eaters love nightcrawlers.
Worms. Nightcrawlers make
great treats for big fishes and amphibians.
(Or you can cut them up for smaller fishes.
Freeze them first to make your job easier.) Or, got a
LA Pix Ground
up worms make great wormsicles.
Earth. Your backyard garden
contains the soil the tastiest worms prefer.
The secret? Lots of tasty
organic matter for the worms to eat. Organic
matter also makes the soil easier to crawl through.
The worms are already there. You
just need to dig the little wigglers up.
Unfortunately, these conditions exist for only two or three months
during the spring and a couple months during the fall.
the Season. As the sun comes
out more hours, the ground warms up and dries out.
If you can provide any kind of shade, you can extend your worm season
by two months. Even simple
sheets of cardboard on the top of the soil will make a big difference --
especially with your neighbors.
Dry Conditions. As your soil
dries out, worms tunnel straight down to the cooler and moister layers in
the subsoil. They will ball up
and loaf there until sufficient rains bring them to the surface again.
If you lightly water your worms (don’t drown them), you can keep
them in the topsoil longer.
a Mulch. In addition to
providing overall shade, you need to mulch the earth with a variety of
organic materials. Mulches keep
the soil moister and provide food to the little wigglers.
a Variety of Mulches. Any
single type of mulch has its own disadvantages.
For instance, grass clippings mat down, smell bad, and give off
enough ammonia to repel most worms. Leaves,
on the other hand, also mat together and take forever to break down.
Wood shavings are nearly indestructible (they do break down over the
winter) and are totally inedible.
Any single one of these mulches does a terrible job of encouraging
Combine Them. But if you
mix any of these separate substances together, you get a synergistic effect.
They work really well together when you combine different types of
mulches. Just by raking these
different mulches together or running them through your lawn mower, you can
keep them from forming an impenetrable layer on the surface.
Table Scraps. Some
people feed their worms table scraps. Worms
have a very small mouth. Unless
you shred your table scraps, you’re really feeding your backyard raccoons.
Coffee grounds are about the right size.
Strew them about rather than making a big lump. Rake them into
your soil or mulch.
Commercial Worm Food.
Harry (our Aqualand worm supplier) feeds his worms finely ground corn meal,
oat meal, and cereal.
Part of Harry's earthworm farm. Worms can't climb up the steep sides.
View of one of his earthworm beds after stirring.
We're lazy. Here's Harry
bringing us 20 packs of 36 earthworms.
you have to harvest worms by hand. So live worms will never replace frozen foods in popularity.
When you rummage thru the dirt, you might spy these earthworm eggs.
More worm eggs to continue the population.
Storage. If you dig your
own, keep your extra
worms in the fridge with a bit of extra dirt.
(Those little yogurt containers are great.)
This could be the deciding factor in whether you feed these tasty
critters or not. Not everyone
wants to keep live earthworms with their family food. Refrigerate
nightcrawlers. Do not
refrigerate red wigglers. LA.
2000, © 2003, © 2004, © 2005 LA Productions
of Sixth & Euclid Avenues
Moines, IA 50313