Uncle Jims Worm Blog
Red Worms, Worms, Worm Composting, Composters & VermiCulture
Healthy composting systems are home to some of the most prolific breeders around: the Red Wiggler. Knowing a little bit about how they mate and what the ideal mating environment is like will help you harvest more compost.
Did you know that under favorable conditions, mature red worms can produce two to three cocoons per week? That's a lot of baby worms, considering each cocoon will yield anywhere from 3-20 juvenile worms! If you want long-lasting sustainability, it's important to keep your red wigglers comfortable and happy to encourage more reproduction.
Let's dive into how worms reproduce and what that can do for your vermicomposting system.
Most people already know that worms are hermaphrodites. This means that they have both male and female reproductive organs. However, they cannot reproduce alone. They must pair with another worm for successful reproduction to occur.
When two worms mate, they join and begin secreting mucus to create a mucus ring around them. After a few hours the worms separate and lay eggs and fertilize the inside of the cocoon. The worms back out of the cocoon and it seals itself off, leaving an oval-shaped cocoon that hardens over time to protect the young hatchlings inside. After 11 weeks, the hatchlings emerge from the cocoon!
Worms can't reproduce just any time. Their bodies undergo changes as they grow older, and at around 90 days old they become old enough to mate.
When a red worm reaches maturity, a bulbous gland appears about 1/3 of the way down its body. You have probably seen this on an earthworm or nightcrawler. This gland plays an important role in the mating process as it produces the mucus needed for cocoon production.
One important thing to take note of is that the larger the worms are, the more often they mate and the more hatchlings their cocoons will produce. Ensuring that your worms enjoy a proper diet will help them grow healthy and strong.
One of the most enjoyable parts about vermicomposting is the self-sustaining element of it. Since worms reproduce so much, you'll never run out of worms in a healthy environment. It's not uncommon for someone to buy an initial batch of red wigglers and never have to buy worms again for composting purposes.
There's conflicting opinions over the life expectancy of worms, but you can expect to get at least 5 years of use out of a worm before they no longer reproduce. Earthworms are known to live 10-15 years before they die, which is why we always suggest helping a worm find its way back into moist soil when you see one stranded on a walkway, road, driveway or another dangerous environment!
Without going into too much detail, we hope that was informative for you and that it will help you harvest more valuable compost from more worms! Just remember, the healthier your worms, the more they'll reproduce. And the more worms you have, the more castings you'll harvest!
Uncle Jim's Worm Farm is a global vermicomposting company specializing in red wigglers and worm composting products. The above image is not our own.
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If you're a fisherman, then you are in constant need of worms. While running to the local grocery store or gas station is an option, it isn't always the most convenient or the cheapest!
We have some alternative suggestions for you to try. It doesn't take much time at all and it requires just a few things that you most likely already have laying around the house! You don't need any special traps, bait or even a permit!
If you aren't a fisherman, no worries, worms are still fun to gather and they serve other purposes too.
Cardboard Boxes Method
Probably the easiest way to gather earthworms is to simply leave a flattened, wet piece of cardboard out in the yard overnight. This will attract the worms to the surface (for several reasons) and when you remove the cardboard, there will be loads of worms!
During a rainstorm (or after), go out at dark and use a flashlight to locate nightcrawlers that are out roaming around. Earthworms like to surface when it's wet out to take advantage of the wet conditions for traveling! Since worms must stay moist to survive, and since they are able to travel easier and farther distances above ground, worms prefer to surface when the sun is down and after a good rain storm. If you aren't able to find many, use a shovel to dig into the ground. Then use your hands to break apart the wet soil and so that you can locate the worms. If rain isn't in the forecast, try going out in the early morning after the sprinklers have shut off and troll around to see what you can find!
If there is a perennial strem nearby with fallen leaves around it, that is an excellent place to dig for worms. They are often found near bodies of water in the mud. Another good place to try is underneath anything that is damp or moist such as logs, rocks and rotten stuff! Worms are sensitive to vibration so the sneakier you are, the more you'll gather.
What NOT To Do
We do not suggest using soapy water to harvest worms from you lawn as it can ruin your lawn on a hot, sunny day or kill delicate plants in your yard. Some have used a 6v or 12v battery and shocked the worms out from the ground. This is obviously not the best way to gather earthworms as the shock can damage their nervous system and they will die sooner. Remember, healthy worms are happy worms. For fishing, you want the worms to continue to wiggle even after you cast them out into the water so take care of them! For vermicomposting, they will not be productive unless they are out of the heat, kept moist and comfortable and fed regularly.
How To Store The Worms?
All you need to store the little wigglers is a small styrofoam cooler, some dirt, some bedding and some organic food waste. Some people sprinkle a little corn meal from time to time and that keeps the worms healthy and happy short term. For long term worm storage, we suggest building a dedicated worm farm or buying a Worm Farm Kit from Uncle Jim's Worm Farm! We make it extremely easy to maintain the worm farm and provide loads of helpful tips in our blog!
Hopefully this gives you a few different ideas to try the next time you need worms after closing hours or if you're feeling too lazy to get in the car and drive several miles to the nearest worm dealer!
Of course, with a few clicks of the mouse, we can ship Night Crawlers right to you!
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If you've ever caught a trout, you know why they are so highly sought after. They put up a great fight, they're beautiful in all of their varieties and they're great-tasting!
Trout can be caught in all kinds of different ways ranging from fly-fishing and lures to bait fishing. What's the best method to fish for trout? It depends.
Sometimes flies are the way to go. Other times, when the weather turns and insects aren't in season, it's helpful to have a selection of natural baits on hand to catch the big one.
In general, the more natural your fly/lure/bait appears, the more fish you're likely to catch!
Fishing purists tend to gravitate exclusively toward fly-fishing because of the challenge of properly presenting a fly, the thrill of catching fish with custom hand-tied flies and the virtue of catch and release without causing injury to the fish. Additionally, there are many streams and lakes throughout the U.S. that are off-limits for bait fishing. Whatever method you choose, be sure to check with your local fishing regulations to know whether or not bait fishing is allowed.
Fishing For Trout With Natural Baits
Worms, bait fish, crickets, hellgrammites, nymphs and a whole lot more have been used for ages with a great deal of success. Some of these natural baits can be found near the tributary you are fishing. A good strategy to catch more trout is to examine their environment to find out what they feed on naturally. Do crickets thrive in the area? Do you occasionally see one jump in the water from the bank? Turn over a rock near the water's edge and you may be surprised what you find! These are just a couple of ways you can find out what the trout might be accustomed to feeding on. Then you can choose your natural baits accordingly.
Here are some of the more popular natural baits used for trout fishing. We're going to save the best one for last!
Minnows, shad, bream or whatever bait fish you can get your hands on is a pretty good choice if your goal is to hook into big trout. Since trout are aggressive predators, they feed on a wide variety of prey including other small fish. We recommend hooking bait fish through their lips or dorsal fin for best presentation.
Crickets & Hoppers
Crickets and grasshoppers make terrific live bait for trout. They create a turbulence on the water's surface which attracts the fish. It's a real treat to watch a trout surface and grab your cricket. For lakes, the best method is to use a hook and bubble and cast out a ways. In streams, use little to no weight and let the cricket drift naturally with the current. Some find greater success with crickets than hoppers because they're not as intimidating or tough as a fully grown hopper.
I'd venture to say that more trout have been caught using traditional earthworms, mealworms and redworms than all of the other live baits combined. Trout love 'em. When all other methods fail, throw on a red wiggler and either let it sink to the bottom or attach a bobber 4 to 5 feet above the worm so that it can dangle a few feet beneath the surface. Believe it or not, some trout are intimidated by large wiggly earthworms, so you can either cut them in half when you throw them on a hook, or you can resort to using redworms and mealworms which are more manageable to eat and very appealing. We believe redworms to be the ultimate natural live bait for trout fishing.
You can either buy redworms for trout fishing or dig up earthworms at your house in the early morning or gather them after a rain shower. Another popular method of catching worms is getting a flat piece of cardboard wet and laying it out overnight in a patch of dirt. In the morning, you're likely to find several earthworms underneath it.
Of course, you can always get a worm farm kit and have a self-sustaining crop of worms to draw from whenever you're itching to get out and do some fishing!
With temperatures on the rise and summer in full swing, we wish you fishing fanatics a great season of fishing, and hope you find success using these natural live baits!
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Being prepared for tough economic times seems like a popular topic these days. One of the concerns a lot of people have is food prices and availability.
What happens before every hurricane, earthquake and tornado warning? People flood the grocery stores and buy up all the food. Shelves can remain empty for weeks until new shipments come in and shelves are restocked.
How will you get your proteins when you need them and they're not available at the store? Not everyone has the real estate or ability to raise cows, chickens or crops.
A Possible, Even Likely Alternative To Meat
One good, sustainable way of growing your own source of edible protein is to start a mealworm farm.
Mealworms are regarded as a possible candidate as the future alternative to meat. Why mealworms?
- They are highly nutritional. They are comprised of about 25% of protein and 12% fat.
- They aren't bad tasting! In fact, there are many recipes out there for meal worm french fries, mealworm banana bread, oven-roasted meal worms that taste like roasted nuts, and they make a terrific garnish. Apparently, they are delicious sprinkled on a soup or covered in chocolate. They can be your main meal, a side dish, or dessert! Can't beat that!
- They're more environmentally friendly than cows, pork and chicken. This criteria was judged in terms of land usage, energy needs and greenhouse gas emissions. Mealworms only require 10 percent of the land that is used for the production of beef for the same amount of protein. According to one study in the journal PLoS One, mealworm farming is a more efficient way to get edible protein compared to other farming methods because mealworm farming gives you more protein per land acre and requires less energy to sustain the operation.
What Must Happen?
In order for mealworms to really shine as the clear alternative to animal meat, new technology and further experimentation with mealworm farming would need to take place. One study by Oonicx and de Boer has already shown the advantages of using mealworms over meat for edible protein, but there would have to be more evidence. This is especially true considering that chicken and pig farmers tend to improve their productivity by approximately 2.3 percent every year. With traditional edible protein farming/ranching methods showing more automation, refinement and efficiency each year, it's imperative that more mealworm studies be done soon!
If you are interested in securing your future by having a mealworm farm, then contact us today to find out how you can get started. We offer mealworms at an incredibly low rate and ship free! Check out our mealworms today!
Uncle Jim's Worm Farm is a vermicomposting company specializing in the redworm for gardeners and plant lovers. The above image is not our own.
Image courtesy of www.flickr.com
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We recently stumbled across a great vermicomposting success story featured on Slate.com by Catherine Price of Philadelphia, PA. We thought it was a terrific success story and would like to share some of the highlights from her article.
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Several months back, you may remember a post we did about raising composting worms during the winter. Now that the weather is warming up and we're expecting some heat waves in the not-too-distant future, we here at Uncle Jim's Worm Farm want to help you prepare for raising worms in the summer.
It's not hard to keep them cool and comfortable, but you need to follow these important guidelines or your worms won't thrive or survive the heat!
How To Keep Worms Cool In Hot Weather
Hot weather can kill worms. Even if they don't die, it can make them very sick and unproductive. The best way to take care of your redworms this summer is by considering the following tips:
Worms need to be moist to be healthy and happy. Hot air has a tendency of drying things out. If your bedding gets too dry, it won't be the heat that kills your worms, it'll be the lack of moisture that does them in. One thing you can do to prevent overly dry conditions is to keep your bedding slightly more moist than usual. But, be careful, you don't want to add too much water. Just make sure you don't go too long before adding more water in your compost pile and bedding.
The deeper your worms dwell, the less likely they will dry out. Give your worms a place to retreat when they start feeling too warm by providing more depth to their bedding so that they can find a cool place to enjoy.
When it's hot, the easiest way to reduce the effects of heat is to keep your composting unit someplace in the shade. Keeping your worms out of direct sunlight makes a big difference when it comes to worm bed maintenance.
With hotter temperatures comes more worm hatchlings. You'll want to keep a watchful eye on the number of worms in your beds to avoid them from becoming too crowded. Fully mature worms don't necessarily like to mix and mingle with the babies and it may drive them over the top.
Another challenge that you'll be faced with throughout the summer is keeping flies and mites out of your compost pile. Since food scraps tend to attract these specimens, you run the risk of mites taking over your worm beds and laying eggs in the food scraps. To avoid this from happening, you can simply lay a burlap cloth or landscaping cloth over the bedding to protect it from the pesky bugs.
In many areas throughout the U.S., the summer can bring some pretty extreme heat, making outdoor worm composting a challenge. Consider these suggestions this summer and you'll end up with perfectly happy worms and outstanding compost!
Image courtesy of www.certifiedallergysa.com
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Spring is in full swing and you know what that means - it's time to plant your garden!
Growing your own groceries is very rewarding and a lot of fun, but in order to make it worth your while, it's critical to know when to plant your seeds.
So we here at Uncle Jim's Worm Farm put together this little graphic to help you visualize when you need to have your seeds ready to plant, till and compost your garden, and plan to have some youngsters available to help you out!
We understand there are different seasons depending on where you live in North America, and that planting times vary according to where you live. There's a tool out there called SproutRobot that allows you to put in your zip code and it will generate the planting dates for a wide variety of garden produce that's specific to your area. Check it out for more details!
Good luck planting your garden and remember to add compost to your soil for best results!
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People are always looking for better ways to teach their kids responsibility. Sometimes, the most proven and effective answers are overlooked in favor of "new and improved" formulas.
Worm farms like the ones at Uncle Jim's Worm Farm have been teaching young kids responsibility for ages!
Schools and families throughout the world have relied on worm farms to give children experiences that will teach them management and personal accountability while earning money for things they want to buy - themselves!
Why A Worm Farm?
Starting a worm farm or worm composter is incredibly easy and requires only a little capitol. However, in order to get the results you want, a certain amount of time and care is required. This is where it really shines. The basic maintenance of a worm farm is so simple, most kids can streamline the entire process without much supervision.
Your assistance is most certainly needed in the beginning phases, but you'll find that in a short amount of time, most kids will find a great deal of enjoyment managing a project of their very own. This is especially true when the start to see the benefits of their hard work!
Earning Money With A Worm Farm
After establishing a successful worm farm, you can begin exploring different ways to sell the worms. Your options include, but are not limited to:
- Worms are a high demand item for fishermen and can be sold at bait shops, wholesale or delivered directly to customers. Redworms are especially great for trout fishing! You can show up at fishing events and sell your worms like you would lemonade from a stand.
- Worms are valuable to farmers and organic gardeners who seek to enrich their soil via vermicomposting! You can sell both worms and worm compost (castings or compost tea) to neighbors or a local nursery.
- Worms make great pets! They cost very little to feed and they're won't get hair all over your furniture.
Consider a worm farm to teach kids responsibility. Most kids experience an explosion of curiosity with it because it's hands-on, sustainable and downright fun. Try it out and let us know how it goes!
Image courtesy of www.spoonful.com
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As the weather begins to warm, people are getting their fishing poles ready for more comfortable fishing outings. And if there's one way to enjoy fishing comfortably, it's with the the classic worm and bobber.
Fishing with a worm and bobber gives you options. You can fish while you...
- sprawl out and be hands free
- listen to your favorite music
- soak up the sun while drinking your favorite beverage
- step away for some game time
- bird watch
- make phone calls
- check Facebook
- make plans for your garden
- hunt for worms
...but you won't get very far if you don't know how to properly hook a worm.
Have you ever cast your line out into the water after baiting your hook and your line goes one way and your bait goes another? Bait fishing does require a little bit of technique if you want good results and make the most of your time.
How To Properly Bait A Hook Using A Worm
There are several schools of thought when it comes down to it, but in general, here are the guidelines most fishermen use while bait fishing. Following these tips will help you catch more fish, making your comfortable fishing outings that much more enjoyable.
- Keep your worms cool. Leaving your worms out in the heat will turn your worms to mush. They're only good if you keep them cool. The cooler they are, the less they'll wiggle while baiting your hook.
- Get your hands dirty. This accomplishes a couple things. First, it keeps your human scent off the worm. Fish have very good noses and may not hit your worm if they smell something fishy, or humany, going on. Second, a little dirt on your fingers will help you control the worm as you spear it and push it up the hook.
- Cut the worm. Worms can sometimes wiggle violently in the water and depending on what kind of fish you are going after, you might present a meal that is somewhat intimidating. Trout especially like manageable portions, so consider cutting your worm in half if using an earthworm. Better than the earthworm, use common redworms for trout. They love 'em!
- Spear one of the worm on to the hook and slide it up the hook until it reaches your line. Think of how you put your sock on in the morning. Do it in a similar fashion, except leave a portion of the worm dangling to preserve its worm-like presence in the water.
- If using small worms such as manure worms, hook several of these little worms to hide the hook.
- Every 15 minutes or so, reel in your line to make sure your worm is still attached. You don't want to waste time with nothing on your hook. Generally, the better your hook your worm, the less of a problem this will be, so take your time. You're fishing, after all, time is on your side!
There you have it. If you have a special way of hooking a worm, be sure to let us know in the comments below!
Uncle Jim's Worm Farm is a vermicomposting company specializing in red wigglers, the world's best composters! Check out our worm selection today! The above image is not our own.
Image courtesy of www.hubpages.com
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