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Nightcrawlers vs. Red Worms: Summer Performance

12 Aug

I have spent the last couple of weekends harvesting castings from my red worm bins and european nightcrawler bins.  I had tried to hold out until after Labor Day, when it’s only 95 outside.  The heat can add stress to harvesting castings for you and the worms.  Exposed worms can dry out and die quickly.

Loaded down with finished worm castings I was left with little choice.  The girls pitched in and really helped speed things.  My harvester that was built last winter, really came in handy.  We were able to crank through 100+ pounds in no time.  The girls picked worms stuck in the harvester screen. On a side note: Use cooking spray on the wire mesh to help keep the worms from sticking.

In picking egg capsules and smaller worms from two separate harvest runs (red worms/ european nightcrawlers),  I was surprised at the performance of the nightcrawlers.  The cocoon or egg capsule production has definitely slowed down for the red worms compared to other times of the year.  Compared to the red worms, the nightcrawlers had about triple the amount of eggs.  That’s right, from what I have seen this Summer, the European Nightcrawlers have outperformed red wigglers in reproduction.

This past Winter and Summer have been the most extreme temperatures I have seen since beginning worm farming.  The good news is that with a little planning and preparation worms can flourish in just about any part of the country.


Keys to worm farming success.

14 Feb

A proper set up, and a little planning is all you need to be a successful worm farmer.  In no time you’ll be making more bins, and harvesting valuable castings for your soil and plants from garbage that your family produces.  Red worms are rapid breeders, and can lay an egg every 7 days.  Because they breed so fast in good conditions, focus on their environment, and you will have more worms than you know what to do with.  I started 4 years ago with a medium sized drink cup worth of worms that wasn’t even full.  I sputtered for a bit until I dialed in the right conditions for their bin.  Soon after I got it right and 1 bin became 2 and there is no telling how many worm beds and bins I have started.  So how many worms you start with is not important, but how you start is critical for success.

On another note, I harvested the castings from one of my starter (shoebox size) farms this weekend that I started on 11/28/10 with 10 eggs.  This experiment proved that a healthy bin will produce great results.

For first time worm farmers I recommend my starter farm $40 that will give you a headstart on producing castings and more worms than just purchasing a pound of worms. An established environment with reproducing worms from egg to adult, and will out produce a worm purchase alone.  Worm farming is easy, but you must get a few things right.  The right kind and amount of food, the right temperature, the right moisture, and the right amount of room.  BIns should mimic their natural environment, a cool, dark, moist space with decaying organic matter.

The starter farm in most cases,will need to be split in about a month.  Splitting bins when they grow out of their current one is important, because when conditions are right the only limit to the worms reproduction is space and available food.

I recommend keeping the starter bin as a breeding bin, and starting new bins from your harvest.  When you have a bin that is producing, you can then experiment with other set ups (larger bins, worm beds, pits, trenches, worm towers,and more) .

Have fun, and Happy Valentine’s Day.

Red Worm Egg Production

27 Jan

In this avocado I caught this red worm laying an egg.  I grabbed the camera a little late, but you can see the worm and egg that was layed.  Red Worms are prolific in good conditions.  They are hermaphroditic and have both male and female reproductive organs.  The worms will exchange fluid and can lay an egg every 7 days.  The cocoons or eggs can contain 4-20+ baby worms.

You can save money, reduce waste, and benefit your plants with a red worm farm.  It requires very little effort and space.  Your TexasRedWorm starter farm can be kept under a sink, in a closet w/ no smell.  Just add your coffee grounds, paper/ cardboard waste, fruit and vegetable scraps, and let the worms do the work.  They will turn your trash into a rich natural fertilizer that you can add directly to your lawn or plants.

10 red worm egg experiment update

6 Jan

I decided to check in on a bin I had set up with only 10 red worm eggs, November 28, 2010.  To my surprise, I found several worms quickly, and the largest was this 3.5″ monster pictured above.  There was a visible clitellum, which means they have reached sexual maturity.

Red Worms will usually reach reproductive maturity in 2-3 months. Red Worms are hermaphroditic, and come equipped with both male and female reproductive organs.

This little experiment is proving out that your starting number of red worms is less important than providing the right environment for your worms.

Temperature: 40F-80F

Moisture: Damp but not wet- think of a wrung out sponge

Feeding: Simulate their natural environment (manure piles, decaying leaf piles) Feed in one part of bin when food is gone.  Worm food includes: vegetable scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds, herbivore manure.

Baby Texas Red Worm

4 Jan

It’s January in Texas and temperatures are right for red worm cocoons to hatch.  Temperatures will dip just below freezing at night on occasion, but right now it’s 60F.  Red worms will do fine from 40F-80F.  Mine are kept at a pretty constant 60F this time of year, and they are doing wonderful. I snapped this picture early this morning as I peeked under the lid of one of my starter farms.

4 redworm experiment

15 Dec

Inspired by Bentley Christie’s 4 worm experiment where his 5 1/2 month experiment with 4 mature worms rendered 12 adults and 94 juveniles.  I began a similar experiment of 2 bins with 4 worms and my normal bedding.

11-14-10 I set up up two starter bins w/ bedding and 4 mature red worms.

12-5-10 Three weeks into the experiment I did a pretty good count in one of the bins and was able to find the 4 original worms and 4 juveniles.  I was also able to find a few cocoons.  I could have easily missed counting due to the small size of juvenile worms .

From everything I can gather a mature worm can produce an egg sac every 7 days, and reach sexual maturity in 60-90 days. The two main variables I would like some data on are:
1) time it takes a cocoon to hatch?
2) number of worms in cocoon?
I have read cocoons can hatch 3-30 baby worms, and assume healthier worms in ideal conditions will hatch more.  Accurate numbers will require accurate counting, and isolating variables.

I recognize that calling this an “experiment” is a bit of a stretch but wanted to see what would happen.

Baby Red Worm

4 Dec

In harvesting some red worm castings for my lemon trees and herbs I came across this new born red worm.  This little fella will grow rapidly in the next week and should reach sexual maturity in 60-90 days.  At this point, a healthy red wiggler can produce an egg every 7 days for the remainder of their life.  Red worms have been known to live for 15 years.

10 red worm egg experiment

3 Dec


Last week, as an experiment  I stocked  a starter bin with bedding and 10 red worm cocoons or egg sacs.  I would love to be able to see the little rascals hatch, but as you will see in the next post, counting these little critters can be pretty difficult.  Stay tuned.

Tis’ the Season for RedWorms

2 Dec

December in South Texas brings Christmas time and with it some welcomed cooler temperatures ideal for red worm farming.  My red worms are loving this time of year, and are producing cocoons and castings like never before.

When harvesting castings or worms I have seen more “love knots” and cocoons than ever.  The picture above is of two red wigglers exchanging seminal fluid.  In ideal conditions red worms can produce a cocoon or egg sac every 7 days.  Each egg sac (depending on conditions) can hatch 4-20+ tiny red worms.

In this season of giving you can give a responsible gift that benefits everyone.  A red worm farm can compost those gift boxes, paper, and food wastet.  Vermicompost (worm manure) or castings that will nourish plants and soil and keep waste out of the landfill.  For families with little ones, red worms make a great learning gift that can teach kids responsibility and how to be good stewards of their environment.

Merry Christmas! from

Red Worm Eggs

31 Oct

A Red Worm egg sac or cocoon can be laid every 7 days by a healthy mature red worm.  Red Worms can reach sexual maturity in about a month and a lifespan that can go into the early teens.  Red worms are hermaphoditic which means they both fertilize and lay eggs.  Eggs can have 4-30 baby red wigglers.

Keep your worms well but not over fed, moist environment, temps from 40F-80F, and in a quiet dark place and they will produce well for you.