Sunday, August 12, 2007

A Different Kind of Worm Farm

Worm farms are in effect in different states all over the United States. Because of the interest in recycling and the eco-system, these farms make sense. Landfills get less bagged waste, crops are improved, other animals are fed a natural food, and the worms provide natural bait for fishing.

Worm farms can provide many things besides worms. Worm gifts, worm candy, worm flour, worm breads, worm cookies, books, dvds, cute worm songs on cds, worm-related toys, fertilizer teas, compost, potting soil, cupped fishing bait, and hands-on activities for youngsters are some ideas.

Worm farming is technically known as vermiculture. It can be a lucrative business, but it is not a way to make a lot of money quickly. It takes patience, education, money, space, and marketing skills. You can't just toss a handful of worms in your yard and expect them to go to work and make you rich!

If you want a different kind of worm farm, you first would want to research the other worm farms that are in the market. If you make your worm farm unique and fun, you'll draw families. Families spend money on souvenir type items and knick knacks as memoirs of their adventures. Kids like games. Maybe you could create some playground equipment for your little visitors with designs that are based on worms. Demonstrations can make your worm farm different.

You can make your worm bins decorative as well to help maintain public interest. People like "eye candy". Things that are brightly colored and designed catch the eye. A person dressed in a worm suit to chat with the children would be a fun addition to make your worm farm different. A small worm farm museum would be interesting for school groups to visit, which would increase public interest and make your worm farm different.

You might want to figure out how to have a worm festival on your worm farm. Provided you have enough room for parking and someone to direct traffic, this could provide advertisement and fun for you and for your visitors. Worm contests such as who can eat the most worm cookies or design the best worm poster, the most creative worm art made with playdoh, or races in worm shaped cars are some ideas.

Educational benefits exist as well. Your worm farm can be used as a way to enlighten the public on how important the worm is to our natural environment. It can teach people about other worms besides the earthworm and the worms that cause harm.

If you want a different kind of worm farm, it takes a good imagination and some ingenuity. Creating interest and a public need is a good way to succeed. It also means you'll have to stay "on-your-toes" to maintain that interest. Of course, it means more of an investment, too. But in the business world, it takes money to make money. You just have to "worm" your way into the public eye and get noticed!

Advertising Your Worm Farm

Advertising can be the most expensive part of many small businesses. But without the proper advertisement, your business will struggle. Although word of mouth is and will continue to be one of the best sources of advertising for a worm farm or any business or service, you must consider other options as well.

Air time for radio stations can be expensive, as can newspaper or magazine advertisements. You may be limited in how often you can invest in either one. Start-up costs can be demanding in any business.

The sign for your worm farm business should be colorful, easy to read, informative, large enough to readily notice, and in the right place to be seen easily. Although a plain, small sign can still work, it is the bigger and more attractive one that will draw more interest. Think about it from the consumer viewpoint. If you saw a small, plain, black and white sign on one side of the street, and a big, colorful, sign on the other side of the street.......which one would be more likely to snag your interest? You want to be welcoming to the public with your advertisement.

Another means of advertising your worm farm is flyers or bulletins. Many people will make up a huge stack of them and place them on every car they see until they run out. But you want to get the most out of every cent you invest in your advertising. So, before you run out and start shoving those flyers under windshield wipers, consider placement. Is the mom shopping with her two year old child in the toy store as likely to buy your fishing worms or your fertilizer as the person shopping in the hardware store or sports store? Grocery stores, Laundromats, your local Wal Mart, convenience stores, and even large construction businesses may be better places to distribute your flyers. You could ask store owners about posting your flyers in their windows. Try the local video stores, flower shops, and so on.

You could consider holding a demonstration about the benefits of your worm farm at the local library. They have story times and guests visit during the summer months to entertain the children. These children have parents and grandparents who garden and fish and own reptiles or birds who might need worms. Be sure to hand out color pages or bookmarks or something similar with a small bit of information for your business, including your phone number.

Magnetic signs that attach to the sides of vehicles have become more popular in advertising. There are thrift newspapers that have lower cost advertising. A booth at your local farmer's market or in the local flea market may help get your worm farm noticeable with the public.

Make sure you check out your tax laws and your business license requirements for your area. Even if you have your worm farm at your house, you may be required to get a permit to sell your worms or the things you are able to produce because of your worms (like the tea, compost, fertilizers, etc.).

Catalpa Worm Farming

If you are from the southern portion of the United States, you may not know about catalpa worms, but chances are you've at least heard of them. Catalpa worms are not really worms, but they are lumped into the worm family anyway. Try telling the redneck fishermen these little buggers aren't worms!

Catalpa worms are usually called "Catawba worms". Although it isn't likely you'll find many catalpa worm farms, this may be a very good reason you should start one of your own. It's a way to enlighten the public and provide something unique for consumers.

Catalpa trees are the way to get Catalpa worms. So, a tree farm of catalpas is your first investment. Other things you may need to invest in are: sprinklers, wheelbarrows, shovels, rakes, containers, a business license, fertilizer for your tree crop, and advertising.

Your catalpa trees are going to make quite a mess with litter, so you'll want to decide how to handle that as well. It's an idea to turn this litter into a profit. Toss it into your compost pile to help build up some valuable food for your trees. Sell it for seeds to others who may want to grow a tree. Use it to start campfires.

One tree can provide a worm farmer with hundreds of worms. They're a hot commodity for southern fishermen. The fat worms draw catfish like crazy. Their juices are the enticement for the fish. They just can't seem to resist. The best way to use the worms is to break them, tear them, or cut them somehow to allow the juices to flow. Place them on your hook and put the hook as near to the bottom of your fishing hole as possible. This keeps the juices close to the bait instead of allowing it to float down and away, which causes the fish to also go down and away to chase after the juice instead of the bait!

If you invest in a freezer, you can also freeze the worms to sell out of season. The caterpillar stage only lasts about three weeks.

You can buy a starter tree from the Arbor Foundation for $9. If you're lucky enough to have a relative or friend who has a tree, you can try growing your own from the seed pods that hang from the limbs. Your best bet for starting the worms is to harvest eggs from a tree that is already established and attach them to your own tree. The caterpillars emerge in the spring, so you'll want to attach them in February or March. You could try ordering the catalpa sphinx moth yourself from an insect source of some kind. This is what the catalpa worm evolves into, so obviously it would lay the eggs to start more!

The downside to catalpa worms is their ability to devour leaves. All species of the catalpa tree are subject and can be host trees. You'll have to guard against small wasps and parasites that can destroy your worms.

Choosing the Right Worms for Worm Farming

Worm farming is done for several reasons. Composting, the production of nutrient rich soil and providing live bait are three of the most common reasons for worm farming. Some worms do a better job at their duties than others so it is important to know how to choose the right worms for your worm farm.

Composting is one common reason for worm farming. Worms are used to compost waste and discarded material naturally and without adding to the local landfills. To do this, the worms eat fruit and vegetable scraps, along with other compostable items such as paper products, leaves, cotton rags and egg shells.

If composting is the primary reason for setting up a worm farm, choices should be made for the appropriate types of worms that are known as being the best for this option. The Red Wiggler, or Eisenia fetida, is reportedly the best worm for composting. These worms reproduce easily and are extremely hardy. The trait that makes them best as compost worms is their ravenous appetites.

Because of their eagerness to devour anything edible, Red Wigglers produce a high quality substance resulting in a nutrient rich soil that is so desirable with worm farming.

Perhaps raising worms for the purpose of providing live bait is the goal of a worm farm. Bait can be raised for personal use or even supplied to local fisherman through bait and tackle shops. The best worms for this purpose are the European Night Crawlers. These worms can be used for baiting fish in all types of conditions, even in saltwater.

The European Nightcrawler is reported to be one of the hardiest fish available for worm farming. They can also be used as a live food source for other animals such as birds, reptiles, exotic pets and aquarium fish. They can be used in a composting type worm farm but work best as live food and bait. Night Crawlers are readily available and have similar care requirements as the Red Wigglers.

Worms used for garden and lawn farming are typically available in sets of three different varieties of worms. The Red Wiggler and the Night Crawlers are often two of the types of worms in these sets. The third worm is usually Pheritema, or Florida Wiggler which are worms that burrow deep into the soil.

Over 3000 varieties of worms exist. The worms mentioned here are the most commonly used and readily available on the market today. They can be found at various online distributors. Local worm farmers can be found through online directories or by looking up the topic in the local telephone book.

Most types of worms are typically made available as adult worms, young worms and egg capsules. Typically sold by the pound, the number of worms per unit will vary depending on their age and size. Egg capsules yield a higher number of worms per unit once hatched.

A worm farm will be most successful when the appropriate worm is chosen for the job at hand. While most worms will compost discarded items and waste and act as live bait, some have some small traits that make them the best choice for a worm farm with a particular purpose.

Facts about Worm Farming

Worm farming is a great way to naturally compost waste and other discarded materials. As a result, nutrient rich soil is produced and can be used in flower beds, crops, and gardens. Regardless of all the reading and research one does, issues may arise and can cause some concern.

Here are a few of the commonly reported questions and issues with worm farms.


It is often thought by many that a smelly worm farm is normal. In fact, it is not. If worms are kept in an appropriate environment, they will not smell. If the farm has an odor, the most likely cause is overfeeding.

Material to be composted is placed on the top layer of soil for the worms to consume. If too much is given to the worms, it can begin to rot causing a build up of bacteria within the walls of the worm farm. This is the cause of the smell.

To remedy the situation, simply discontinue feeding of the worms until any uneaten material is gone. The soil should also be stirred for aeration and to allow the worms to move more freely.

Bugs and other pests

Using a container with a tight lid can help prevent many pests from infesting the worm farm but some are sneaky enough to make it in regardless. Small vinegar flies are often a complaint among worm farmers. This type of fly is of no harm to the worm farm but typically is a result of overfeeding. Large flies appear when there is an abundance of food.

Ants are also a common issue. If ants are seen in the worm farm, the chances are pretty good that the soil is too dry. Adding water to the soil to increase the moisture can help eliminate ants. If using a worm farm that stands on legs, simply apply some petroleum jelly to the legs to prevent the ants from being able to climb up.

Maggots can be found in worm farms where meat is offered to the worms. The best scenario is to eliminate meat from the diet altogether. If maggots have made their way into the worm farm, they can be eliminated by placing a milk soaked piece of bread into the farm; the maggots will be drawn to it and can simply be removed.

Worms leave the farm

This topic leaves it up to the worm farmer to figure out what the problem is and fix it. If a worm is leaving, he is unhappy with his environment and is in search of a more suitable one. Worms will escape for reasons such as the soil being too dry or there isn't enough food. On the other hand, soil that is too wet could also be affecting the worms, causing them to want to leave.

The source of the problem should either be eliminated or fixed. If the soil is too dry, fresh water should be added to the farm. If it is too wet, the excess should be drained and new bedding should replace the old. Locate the cause of the excess moisture and eliminate it.

Ensure that the worms are getting enough food and the farm is in a location where the temperature will remain constant.


There may be some confusion on what to feed worms. Appropriate foods to feed include fruits, vegetables, egg shells, greens, tea bags and coffee grounds and filters. Non-food items can also be fed to the worms and include soaked cardboard, paper products, cotton rags, leaves, dirt and hair.

More important are the items that should not be fed. Dairy products, meat, citrus, onions and garden waste that has been treated with chemicals are all things to avoid in a worm farm.

These are just a few of the common topics when it comes to worm farming. Although they are pretty easy to care for, it is important to realize the reason for some of the changes or issues noticed within the worm farm. Problems should be corrected early to prevent the loss of the worms.

Providing a proper environment, correct food, appropriate moisture level and temperature will help ensure a supply of happy and healthy worms.

Feeding the Worms in a Worm Farm

Naturally composting waste, providing an organic matter that enriches soil and even supplying hobbyists and fisherman with live bait. These are all reasons for worm farming. Taking care of the worms in a worm farm is typically quite easy but there some guidelines to follow. Proper feeding is important for the health of the worms, and therefore important for the health of the farm.

Worms are fed a variety of food items, and nonfood items, for composting. Some food type items that can be offered are fruits, vegetables, greens, bread products, cereals, tea bags, coffee grounds and filters and egg shells. The worms will eat just about anything so it is imperative to know which foods are appropriate and why.

Fruits and vegetables are easily composted by the worms. The important thing to remember when serving fruits and vegetables is the size of the portions. Fruit pieces should be cut down to 1/2 inch pieces or slices. Smaller pieces will be consumed more quickly. Food blended up with water will also help the worms find the food and consume it faster.

Fruits and vegetables are highly nutritious. Worms that are fed an appropriate diet will in turn produce a nutrient rich substance that is beneficial to crops, gardens, flower beds and even indoor flower pots. Some nonfood items that can be offered to worms for composting are paper products, cotton rags, hair clippings, leaves and soaked cardboard. A pizza box that has been torn up and soaked is a wonderful treat for worms.

When offering leaves to a worm farm, be careful to only use products that have never been treated with chemicals. For the safety of the worms, grass clipping and other yard clippings should be avoided incase chemicals have been used.

Dog and cat droppings can be used in a worm farm with care. Cats and dogs that have been dewormed recently will still have the substance within their bodies. The medicine used for deworming can be excreted in the droppings. If fed to the worms, the droppings can kill the worms quickly. If a pet has been dewormed recently, avoid using the droppings in the worm farm.

Care should also be taken when offering cat droppings from a litter box. Inorganic litters are unsafe for the worms. If your plan is to use the worms to compost the droppings, using a natural and organic litter will keep the worms happy.

While there are many foods that can be offered readily, there are also those that should be avoided. Care should always be taken with items that have been treated with chemicals, medications or other substances that may prove harmful.

Meats should not be offered to the worms in a worm farm. Being voracious eaters, the worms will gladly consume whatever meat is offered. The problem with meat is with the pests it will attract. Flies and maggots will be found in a worm farm that uses meat and the best way to eliminate these pests is to eliminate the use of meat.

Citrus fruits, onions and garlic should not be used either. The worms appear to find the smell of these items offensive. Most worms will try to escape the bin to get away from the smell. Dairy products will also attract unwanted guests into the worm farm. Another problematic issue with serving dairy products is the foul smell that is emitted as it rots.

Feeding worms is a pretty easy job. The key is to know which items are good and which are bad for the health of the worms. Another point to always remember is to not over feed. New worms should be fed in small amounts when they are becoming established within the farm. Once settled, the amount can be increased over time.

Over feeding leads to problems such as foul smells and pests. Keep feeding down to a minimum, offering new food only when the old food supply is running low. Worms can eat over half their body weight in food per day. The worm population can double every few months. Overfeeding can cause a problem but keep an eye on the population as well to be sure that underfeeding isn't an issue.

A well fed worm population is a happy worm population. Happy worms produce a lot of naturally composted, healthy castings for soil enrichment therefore keeping the worm farmer happy as well.

How to Build Your Own Worm Farm

So you've decided to take the plunge and set up your own worm farm. Perhaps you're looking for a natural way for composting waste, are interested in the nutrient rich fertilizing substance produced by the worms, or are looking to provide a constant supply of live bait or live food for exotic pets. Regardless of the reason, you're going to need to set up a bin.

Various models are available for purchase at worm farming supply companies and garden centers. These come in different shapes, sizes and colors and each have their own benefits. The frugal approach is to build your own.

The first thing to consider is how big of a container you're going to need. To figure this out, you'll need to first measure out approximately how much waste you are going to need to use for feeding. For each pound of waste, you'll need one square foot of space in your bin. Depth should be at least six to twelve inches.

A plastic tote or container works well as do wooden boxes. Metal containers should not be used as irons and chemicals can leach into the soil, harming the worms. Many worm farmers prefer wooden boxes over plastic as wood is more easily aerated. Plastic can cause more moisture to build up than wood, which can be both good and bad.

Once a container of the appropriate size has been chosen, it'll need to be prepared. Holes should be drilled or punched through the top of the container to allow for air flow. There are two ways to address the bottom of the container.

One method is to drill or punch holes into the bottom of the container to allow excess water and other liquids to drain out. Another is to install a spout at the bottom of the container. When liquid begins to fill up in the bottom, the spout is turned on and releases the fluid.

If using a spout, a raised shelf should be added within the container. This shelf should be the same width as the container, but be allowed to sit a few inches above the bottom. This will allow the empty space at the bottom to fill with liquid and prevent it from sitting in the soil and bedding. This raised shelf should be made of slats or have several holes to allow liquids to drain into the bottom of the container.

If a raise shelf is not used, screening should be installed over the holes to allow liquid to run out of the container but prevent worms from squeezing through. Screening should also be attached to the top of the container to prevent escape.

Some thought should be put into what will be used for bedding material. Soaked and shredded newspapers, cardboard and even dampened leaves can be layered in the bin. Regardless of the material used for bedding, a small amount of soil should always be mixed in. If using the raised shelf system, bedding should be layered on top of the shelf.

The container should be put in a location that will ensure optimal conditions. Temperature should remain between 72 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The bin should not be placed in an area of the yard that will gain excess rain water, either.

Once the bin has been constructed, bedding has been added and the perfect location has been found, the next step is to add the worms and begin your own worm farm. Worm farming is rewarding whether it is done for a profit or a hobby. Constructing an appropriate home for these guys is your first step towards becoming an authentic worm farmer.