Worms for Fishing and Vermicomposting
by Brian Ford
Well yes, in a sense worms can be farmed. Just as you would keep a few chickens or rabbits. My interest in worm farming (vermicomposting) goes back a few decades. Back then I would often hit one of my favorite fishing spots on the way home from work. Worms were quite expensive, two dozen red wiggle res or a dozen night crawlers for two bucks. It did not take long for my bait budget to be depleted.
I had an old defunct deep freezer in my garage. Remembering back to my childhood, an uncle had filled one with dirt, leaves, sawdust, and food scraps. There was always loads of worms in the bin.
I set out to replicate his “farm”, shredded paper, cardboard, sawdust, leaves, and some rabbit litter all went in the bin (freezer). Holes were drilled in the door for air flow. I carefully added water till the contents were damp. Now to point out this was pre Internet, I quizzed my uncle and read through the local library’s meager selections about worms.
Once I decided the bin was ready I started dumping the leftover worms from each fishing trip in the bin. All in all the endeavor went well. In a few months, I was finding juvenile worms and egg pods! I started to lightly harvest worms, my fishing habit was becoming sustainable!
During this time I noticed that the two largest sources of household waste was paper and food scraps. The worm bin reduced the flow off these two from the house to the landfill to zero! However, there are some things that should not go into the bin. Citrus waste, as the acid will burn the worms, meat and fat products as they draw pest and vermin. No cat or dog waste, as that might carry harmful microorganisms.
So practically all other food waste can go in the bin. I had an old food processor, I would put the scraps in it with some water and pulverize the food waste before putting in the bin then covering with shredded paper. The scraps and bedding decomposed quickly and the worms were doing quite well!
How to Start Vermicomposting Video
The next spring I needed to empty the bin of castings, also I found quite a few small volunteer seedlings growing in the bin. I moved the various seedlings out to beds in the yard and then removed and bagged about three-fourths of the castings. Just to note this took several days around my schedule.
After the clean out of the bin, I went back to adding bedding and pulverized foods. I believe I had about 8000 worms in the bin at clean out! I have read that the population will double every 90 to 120 days. I was at the point of being overrun with worms!
Back to the volunteer plants, there was tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, and melons along with other types of plants. Since I bought most of my produce from local growers the majority was heirloom produce. I gambled on a good return from setting out those seedlings.
And I got a great return! I did side dress the garden with castings. That summer and fall my dehydrator was working 24/7 to keep up. I had so much fresh produce I was making runs to the local farmers market selling the excess, plus bags of castings and boxes of worms.
In order to save me some bait money, I used items that normally would go to the landfill and in turn ended making a fair amount of money, and saving quite a lot of money. Some of the seedlings turned out to be fruit trees, like apple, peach, and pear.
No, they did not bare true, but good scions could and was grafted to them to provide fruits. Same with some grape seedlings, they were transplanted and then later grafted with more desirable cuttings.
If you have more worms than you can use, sell, give away, they can be used for chicken food. I have started a new smaller bin recently, so I expect by spring I will be swimming in worms and castings!
Should you want to try worm farming there is a lot of info on the webs, a little bit of reading and you should find answers to any questions you may have. The savings and earning potential will take a few months but it is defiantly doable. Have fun if you tackle worm farming.