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Discussion Starter #1
I am so excited I got my first worms today. Red worms, that is. It appears that the freecycler waited an entire week for me. I had said I was going to the Wisconsin Homesteading Event and would be gone all weekend, but I had missed their reply to me.

I just put them to bed in the home I've had for them for over a year. It is in a planters tray within a large plastic covered tub sunk completely into the ground.

This is my question: what foods can I give them for maximum propagation as I was only given a few for starters?

I have them in a shallow bed of their own compost, topped with some crushed eggshells and then a layer of pulled up weeds. Finally, a soggy mass of shredded paper covers the whole bunch. They should be nice and moist and dark.

Now, I know not to feed them dairy products and yes to vegetables, but what about leftover oatmeal or malt-o-meal? What about the stale end of a bran or corn flake box? Are these OK? I might be getting a bit overboard, but I just read that they can get indigestion and so garlic and onions are no nos. Also, cow and horse pies are OK, but by personal perference, chicken pies are not.

Any suggestions would be appreciated---I just can't believe the worm composting has finally begun :)
 

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Homebrewed Happiness
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I raise worms, the best bedding/food is shredded cardboard since it doesn't compact and holds optimal moisture.

I use shredded legal documents from my shredder. It works but compacts too much.

Worms will eat just about anything, just watch out the salt content, it'll kill em in a jiffy.

Worms are both sexes, so just pile in your 'seed' worms to their new medium and let them do what comes natural. The first generation will die off, dont worry. The baby worms in the cocoons are now specialized for this new medium. It takes a couple months for them to convert it, just leave them alone
 

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keep in mind that grains sometimes can overheat. I find that my worms love melon rinds, pumpkin anything, squash guts, etc. Aren't they all in the cucurbit family?

Anyway that's what I find they love. Coffee grounds also.

And if you have dryer lint, put that in there too, they love the stuff and lay eggs in it. I find any sweet fruity veggie scraps go faster, probably because the sugar content makes mold/decay happen quicker... but that's my uneducated thought there.

cardboard is a big YUM for my worms. They love corrugated cardboard that I tear in strips. I try to keep my cardboard for bedding for them... I think they like the glues used.

Let's see... be careful when tossing in any seed-type stuff... I learned my lesson when I threw in the contents of my pumpkins one year without cooking the seeds first. Although, it wasn't so bad since all I had to do is pull up the sprouts and stick them back into the bin but it did get tiring when there was a bazillion sprouts.

I'll post more if I can think of it,
 

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Just be careful of either too much or two little water. If I am understanding your set-up, the worms cannot go deeper to find/escape water because of a bottom in the tub. I drowned a couple of batches of worms before I realized that they like to get deep when it rains a lot because they can't take too much wet.

galump
 

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Country Girl
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What do you do with the red worms? Put them in the garden? We raised earth worms when I was a kid and sold them for fishing. Red worms are small aren't they?
 

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I learned my lesson when I threw in the contents of my pumpkins one year without cooking the seeds first. Although, it wasn't so bad since all I had to do is pull up the sprouts and stick them back into the bin but it did get tiring when there was a bazillion sprouts.
LOL I did the same thing with cantelope seeds. Live & learn. Unfortunately, my worms did NOT live. Not due to the seedlings, but due to (I'm pretty sure) our water being quite acidic. Just another thing to be aware of. I've yet to try again, but I will someday & I'll pretreat the water.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well I shredded some cardboard, soaked it and let it dry to moist. Then I stuck them underneath the shredded paper. Plan on adding some frozen dried okra (thawed) tomorrow.

How often can I check the worms to see if they are doing OK, without getting them too upset?
 

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When I first got my worms I checked them every day. Just peeked, you know?

Lately, I let them go a week, even two between feedings and pushing them around to count their numbers. It seems that them more I leave them the happier they are.

Downright unsocial, if you ask me. But lovely "creechers" all the same!
 

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Shrek the forum manager of Country Singletree is a worm guru as well. He can also chime in with answers to go along with the others. You might ask him to post his thoughts as well to see if they differ.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I know some people give their worms certain grains but we've used only produce scraps, egg shells, and limited amounts of onions, garlic, citrus and potato peels. I don't give them diseased garden waste or weeds but probably could.

As far as moisture, we keep a tea jar for compost. Once full, the worms get fed. Typically, there's a collection of strawberry, zucchini, etc. juice that collects at the bottom. It aids in keeping the soil/castings moist. We start by shredding newspaper (you can tear paper in 1/2" sections), and moistening it with a gallon of distilled or rain water. (I read that city water can be dangerous so never risked it). We keep the worms covered in 6" of the moist paper. They consume a lot of it for better digestion. (There are holes drilled in the bottom of the bin for potential drainage. It rests on the lid of another bin.) If the paper dries out or there's no "juice" in the compost jar, we distribute a liter of bottled water or some rainwater over the paper and mix it up. (Keep in mind, I use a 50 gallon storage bin). You can use a spray bottle until you need a larger container. Btw, they are outdoors in the sun. It was only for freecycling that they were moved from the garage. We keep them there until temps dip below 30 or go over 95. Then they go in the basement. The cat longs for access. lol

I hope this helped and didn't overwhelm. When we first started, it seemed like a lot of work but it soon becomes second nature. Three lesson I did learn is not to over feed (it will smell and you'll get gnats), not to put them in the ground unless contained, and keep them covered in shredded paper unless using them for castings. Then let them consume all the paper.

Oh, and Splenda will kill them. We sprinkled a small amount in a circle around their in-ground home when we noticed some large ants. It kills ants and in less than a week there were no critters anywhere, and only a few listless worms alive. I can only wonder what it does to humans!

Btw, I learned about using Splenda to kill ants from a Yahoo money-saving group member. I never expected it to work. Pretty scary, isn't it?!

(used with permission)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I spread out the worms and composting into one long black plant tray and one wider short tray. I layered on top of them some crushed egg shells, a few weeds, damp shredded cardboard, old thawed chopped okra moistened, a mixture of sand and composted manure (bought in those bags), and shredded documents. All the layers between the weeds and the shredded documents, went on one day at a time.

Yesterday, I did move them from the shallow trays to a couple of those deeper hospital trays and discovered a lot of little worms. They have been growing and multiplying!! I read what someone said that keeping the worms sedentary gets them multiplying faster. He makes a slurry of vegetables and that is what I am doing and so I will continue to do this. If they keep growing as fast as they have, I will be populating the shallow trays as well. I am truly impressed.

Thanks for everyones help and suggestions as ....it is working! :baby04:
 
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