If you plan on breeding worms, it’s not enough that you provide them a nice and comfortable place to thrive. Along with a happy home and delicious food, worms need protection from predators! So, how do we protect our little wiggling friends and what exactly do they eat, you might ask? Read on for more information.
Worms, Red Wigglers specifically, are amazing little consumers of trash, and are actually quite happy with very little provisions for their protection. When it comes to eating, they are voracious. Red Wigglers are known to eat about half of their weight in food every day! The fatter your worms, the more they eat. Place one pound of worms (about 1000 worms) in your compost pile or bin and they will consume roughly 8 ounces of organic material each day. Give them 60 days and they will double their population! This is not to say there are NO precautions. As hardy as they are, they too can be vulnerable to a couple of things. Let’s talk feeding them first. (No, not the birds.)
It may sound a little gross, but the best thing that you can feed your red wigglers is animal manure. Any vegetable eating animal waste is acceptable, preferably a few days old, like rabbits for example. Other possibilities are:
1. Crushed Egg Shells – The grit is good for digestion, provides calcium, helps in the worms reproduction, and also helps in increasing the pH level of the worm bin.
2. Fruits and vegetables (uncooked or peels) – Any fruits or vegetables as long as they are not acidic or citrus based.
3. Starchy food wastes – these can be in the form of bread, oatmeal, and pasta.
4. Bedding materials – Red Wigglers love presoaked peat moss and newspaper shreds (cardboard for some), some soil (avoid the sandy or clayey ones), and coconut coir.
5. Garden wastes – Any dried grass clippings and some fallen leaves.
6. Coffee Grounds – All coffee grounds, coffee filters and used tea bags.
Do take precautions and be sure no oils, animal products, too large of egg shell, acidic or citrus based foods are present and your worms will be great little garbage guzzlers for you. Now let’s discuss other precautions one must take to be sure our little wigglers are protected and prolific!
Too cold, too hot, high salinity, acid or citrus based, lack of oxygen, toxic chemicals (duh!), fluctuations in ph, and birds are all killers of worms. Most of these items are easy to remedy. Keep them protected from extreme temperatures, keep products containing saline, acid, citrus, and chemicals away from them. If you are careful about the previous two statements, ph will often take care of itself, so that leaves the birds! Obviously, the easiest method for keeping birds out of your composting worms is to keep them in an enclosed composting bin. But for those of us who prefer an open outdoor area for which to continually feed and care for our Wigglers, birds can be a bit of a challenge. Though I realize, a diet consisting of little Red Wigglers is actually quite healthy for our bird population, I just haven’t quite mastered a supply lavish enough to keep up with my wild feathered friends. Therefore, I must keep them away from my worms. Winter, I naturally have protected my composting worms with a heavy plastic which not only protects them from birds, but also any extreme cold days we might have. But summer, that plastic renders an environment too hot for the worms to survive. I have found the simplest method for protecting them through the summer is to replace the heavy plastic with a protective shade cloth. Both of these types of covers are dual protections; keeping them protected not only from the birds but also from any extreme temperatures.