Once you get the hang of it, raising red worms is easy. Like anything else, there is a learning curve. It can be frustarting when you are first starting out and all of your worms seem as if they are trying to run away from you every chance they get. If they are doing this, you may be screwing up one of the following things:
If you screw up any of these things, your worms will be unhappy and may try to run off on you in search of a better place. It is a good idea to check on your worms often when you are just starting out. If they look unhappy, try to figure out why. After you get the hang of it, you can get away with checking on them only a couple of times a month to feed them, or even less.
To start off, you should have some worms and some sort of container for them. The next thing you need is food. There are 2 parts to this bedding and feed.
Bedding can be a variety of things. Coconut Coir, peat moss and Shreded cardboard/paper all make for great bedding material.
The next thing you have to worry about is what you feed the worms. Here are some recommendations for what and what not to feed your worms.
Don’ts: Meat, Dairy, Acidic foods like lemons, or greasy foods.
They can handle most of these things, but I don’t recommend them. Things like meat and dairy can attract unwanted visitors like maggots or other animals.
Do’s: Fruits and Veggies, grass clippings, leaves, animal manure (from animals that havn’t been wormed recently).
Cutting up the food scraps you are giving them into smaller pieces helps the worms. This will increase the surface area (for more microorganisms) and prevent your bin from going anaerobic (see Air) and getting smelly.
Your bin should be moist, not wet. If you add too much water, the worms could drown. If you don’t add any, they could dry out and die. A good rule of thumb is: If you squeeze a handful of bedding, just a few drops of water should fall out. If you accidentally add too much water, you can add dry bedding like paper or cardboard to fix the problem. A dry bed is easy to fix, just add water!
Worms are not afraid of the dark, instead they prefer it! Light can actually be harmful to them if they are exposed to it for too long. If your worms are trying to escape your bin, turn a light on and they will probably go back into their bedding. Then try to find out why they were leaving to fix the problem and save on your lighting bill :).
Composting worms are pretty tollerant of temperature variation. Here is a quick look at the different types of worms and what range of temperatures they can handle:
Red worms: 33F-95F
European Nightcrawlers: 33F-95F
African Nightcrawlers: 55F- 100F
If you keep them on the lower or upper ends of these ranges, the worms will probably survive, but not thrive. Try to keep them somewhere inbetween if you can.
Worms breath like you and me(well not exactly). Actually, they breath through their skin. Shredded cardboard, peat moss and coconut coir are good bedding materials since they provides gaps in the bedding for air to flow through. Another good tip is to place 1/8 in. holes in your bins to allow for better airflow.