Saturday, December 17, 2011

Making Money Raising Earthworms, Part 3


Markets For Your Worms

Our discussion on worm farm markets so far:
  1. Raise earthworms for sport fishing bait.
  2. Raise earthworms for organic gardening (home vermicomposting).
  3. Raise earthworms for organic waste conversion (municipal and large scale vermicomposting).
  4. Raise earthworms for worm castings and potting soil/garden soil amendment.
  5. Raise earthworms for farm soil improvement.
  6. Raise earthworms for reforestation and land reclamation.
  7. Raise earthworms for breeding stock.
  8. Raise earthworms for feed.
We've discussed worm farm markets points 1-6, now on to 7-8.

Raise Earthworms for Breeding Stock

One of your biggest, easiest-to-service, and most lucrative market for your worm farm is stocking new worm farmers like yourself with breeding stock worms.  Established worm farmers also need re-stocking from time to time.  These breeding stock sales are for "bed-run" worms: i.e. small, immature worms mixed with larger breeding worms.  Also included in the mix are any egg capsules that happen to be in the bedding.

Why "bed-run" worms for breeding stock orders?

  • Smaller, younger worms are more adaptable to new environments than mature worms.
  • There are more worms per pound.  The worm farmer can build his worm inventory faster as these breeding stock worms mature and start laying eggs.

Markets for breeding stock, bed-run worms:

  • As mentioned, new worm farmers stocking new beds,
  • Established worm farmers who have depleted their worm inventory during peak season,
  • Fishermen looking to save money by growing their own fish bait,
  • Organic gardeners needing large amounts of vermicompost wanting to stock worm beds
  • Composters requiring large numbers of worms to process organic matter
  • Setting up new growers to supply YOU when the demand exceeds your worm supply.
Processing breeding stock and bed-run  worm sales is usually simpler and easier than typical worm orders.  Usually, bed-run orders are filled by scooping out a shovel full of worm bedding from your growing beds, after you have turned it to evenly distribute the worms.  Weight this scoop of bedding containing large worms, medium worms, small worms, tiny hatch-ling worms, and egg capsules in various stages of development.  Be fair and sell from beds that are full, not from depleted beds.

You can sell bed-run orders for the same amount as your bait-sized worms, or you can give a discount.  Generally discount any of your worm orders that are for larger bulk poundage.

One caveat:  Don't start selling breeding stock and bed-run worms until you have several worm beds and plenty of stock to fill your orders.  Initially, you want to have as many worms as possible breeding and maturing.  Wait on this aspect of the worm farm market until you have a fully established worm farm business.
Worm Farm Resources:




Start your worm farm today.  Get how-to's and troubleshooting tips in my Worm Farm Manual: A Step-By-Step Guide To Raising Earthworms.

Other Worm Resources:

Red Worms:  Grow the premier composting earthworm
European Nightcrawlers:  One tough fishing worm. You could be the exclusive source in your area.
Combo Worms:  Order red worms and European nightcrawlers together and save on shipping.
Worm Farm Manual: Order today and get started growing earthworms.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Making Money Raising Earthworms, Part 2



Other Ways to Make Money With Worm Farming


To recap the markets for your earthworms and worm castings/vermicompost:
  1. Raise earthworms for sport fishing bait.
  2. Raise earthworms for organic gardening (home vermicomposting).
  3. Raise earthworms for organic waste conversion (municipal and large scale vermicomposting).
  4. Raise earthworms for worm castings and potting soil/garden soil amendment.
  5. Raise earthworms for farm soil improvement.
  6. Raise earthworms for reforestation and land reclamation.
  7. Raise earthworms for breeding stock.
  8. Raise earthworms for feed.
We've discussed worm farm markets 1-4, now on to 5.

Raise Earthworms For Farm Soil Improvement


No doubt, every agricultural expert out there agrees the importance of the lowly earthworm to soil building is incalculable.  From the antiquities and up until now, the earthworm's place of importance in the Eco system has been revered. 

The Greek philosopher Aristotle described the worm as "the intestines of the earth" and even Charles Darwin studied the earthworm extensively.  But, as I state earlier, the organic methods of old were discarded and  cheaper and easier to apply chemical fertilizers replaced organic fertilizers.

While bad farming practices  and poor soil stewardship through out the past few decades has depleted the top soil and destroyed countless millions of earthworms,  there is now a new awareness dawning.  And probably just in time to save the planet. 

Many farmers are returning to organic farming practices and not just because of the "green awakening". The market for organic products has exploded in recent years  and there is declining yields using the "slash and burn" soil depleting methods of big- Agri,  Profit incentive is a major force behind "going organic".

Whether your local growers are returning to organic farming and gardening because of concern for the environment or because of the bottom line, your worm farm can profit from the enormous market for your vermicompost and castings. If you live in an area of farming, hay fields, groves, or orchards, visit as many as you need to establish accounts for your soon-to-be tons of vermicompost and castings.

Raise Earthworms For Reforestation and Land Reclamation


The introduction of earthworms and worm egg capsules around trees when replanting has produced excellent results and speeds the land recovery.  If you live in an area with large timber tracts harvest or lumber,  contact the companies or government agencies that reforest them.  You may find a huge market for you worms as well as your vermicompost.

Land that has been strip mined and subjected to other top-soil destroying practices need reclaiming.  Top soil can take decades to replace, leaving the land barren and sterile.  Introduction of earthworms and applications of protective organic matter, such as sewage sludge, decreases this recovery time enormously. 

Are you getting a sense of the vast market for your earthworms and vermicompost/castings? 

Next.... Raising earthworms for breeding stock.  (See Making Money Raising Earthworms, Part 1.)

Worm Farm Resources:





Discover all the ways to make money growing earthworms.  Minimize problems and maximize profits following my  Worm Farm Manual: A Step-By-Step Guide To Raising Earthworms.

Other Worm Resources:

Red Worms:  Grow the premier composting earthworm
European Nightcrawlers:  One tough fishing worm. You could be the exclusive source in your area.
Combo Worms:  Order red worms and European nightcrawlers together and save on shipping.
Worm Farm Manual: Order today and get started growing earthworms.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Making Money Raising Earthworms



How To Make Money Raising Earthworms


Let's explore the various markets available for the earthworms you are raising, plan to raise, or hope and pray to raise.
  1. Raise earthworms for sport fishing bait.
  2. Raise earthworms for organic gardening (home vermicomposting).
  3. Raise earthworms for organic waste conversion (municipal and large scale vermicomposting).
  4. Raise earthworms for worm castings and potting soil/garden soil amendment.
  5. Raise earthworms for farm soil improvement.
  6. Raise earthworms for reforestation.
  7. Raise earthworms for breeding stock.
  8. Raise earthworms for feed.

Raise Earthworms For Fish Bait


With all the fancy-smancy lures and artificial baits available to the fisherman, the earthworm is still his bait of choice.  And once he gets a taste (or, rather his targeted fish gets a taste) of the European nightcrawler, he may never go back.  Since this fantastic worm is relatively new to the U.S., you may well be the only source in your area.  Supply bait shops and get the word out to your local fishing community -  you can sell all the European nightcrawlers you can raise.

And, don't forget the red worms.  Many fishermen are familiar with the red worm and may want to continue using it.  With some of my tips for growing bigger worms, you can easily get this worm up to bait size to supply your die-hard red worm fans.

Raise Earthworms For Home Vermicomposting Bins


Organic gardening has never been more popular. Well, actually organic gardening used to be the only way to garden, but fell out of favor once chemical fertilizers became widely available.  But, lately, with the rising cost of these petroleum based chemical fertilizers and the rising popularity of "going green", folks are returning to the organic gardening methods of our ancestors.  And one of the best, fastest and cheapest ways to acquire organic fertilizers and soil amendments for organic gardens is via vermicomposting.

Vermicomposting means composting with worms.  Organic materials in traditional compost piles, when vermicomposted instead, breaks down fastest, is richer (because of the worm castings or poop) , and is alive with microbes.  The calcium in vermicompost is also higher, which is hard to supply organically. You may not be able to raise enough red worms and keep them long enough for fattening to bait size because of the vermicomposting demand. 

You can sell both red worms and European nightcrawlers for vermicomposting, although the red worm is generally considered the premier composting earthworm.

Raising Earthworms For Organic Waste Conversion


For the same reasons as stated above, municipalities and large (and not so large) corporations are setting up large vermicomposting operations for the purpose of converting enormous quantities of organic waste into compost.  It makes sense because it saves money, protects the environment, and can be used as a public relations tool. 

Businesses are well aware of the "green movement" and are using green methods where ever they can and are talking about it.  The cost for setting up large scale vermicomposting operations - quite high. The cost for stocking it with YOUR worms - substantial. The positive PR  - priceless.

Raising Earthworms For Worm Castings and Soil Amendments


Even though home vermicomposting is very popular now as a way to replace expensive chemical fertilizers , there is still a huge market for supplying worm castings fertilizer and vermicompost to organic gardeners. There will always be folks out there who either don't have the time or don't want to bother making it themselves. 

Not to worry, that's where you come in.  Even if you don't have the intention of raising worms for the vermicompost, you are going to have tons of it as a "by-product" of you worm production. Look on it as "free money".  After you've loaded your own property, taken care of your neighbors', friend's and family's lawns and gardens, there's still plenty of this good stuff to bag up and sale.  Don't over look this lucrative market.

Next: Raising Earthworms For Farm Soil Improvement

Worm Farming Resources:






Discover all the ways to make money growing earthworms.  Minimize problems and maximize profits following my  Worm Farm Manual: A Step-By-Step Guide To Raising Earthworms.




Other Worm Resources:

Red Worms:  Grow the premier composting earthworm
European Nightcrawlers:  One tough fishing worm. You could be the exclusive source in your area.
Combo Worms:  Order red worms and European nightcrawlers together and save on shipping.
Worm Farm Manual: Order today and get started growing earthworms.

Monday, October 10, 2011

How To Make A Worm Farm Work



So you want to start a worm farm and you want it to succeed.  Success means your worms stay alive and reproduce and you make a profit.  Maybe you have a job or business and just want to supplement your income.  Or, maybe you want to leave your job and make your income entirely from worm farming.  Either way,  successful worm farming requires much the same as any other business endeavor.

Anyone who ever starts a business, or anything else, and created a success at it does the same thing.  He or she:
  • Makes a Decision
  • Makes a Plan
  • Sticks to it
  • Remains flexible - Change what's not working.
Here are some of the keys to successful worm farming:

Build It and They Will Come - NOT


1.  Marketing
Forget "Build it and they will come".  Don't expect to build a worm farm and wait for the customers to find you.  Whether it's driving around a 50 or 100 mile radius of where you are located and calling on bait shops, pet shops, specialty chicken farmers, etc., or building a website and marketing your worms online, you have to actively market your worms. 

The more repeat buyers you can acquire, the better.  Once you establish a customer who purchases worms from you regularly, please, please, please, do whatever is takes to keep that customer happy.  A repeat customer should be cherished above all things.

Realistic Expectations


2.You must be realistic. 
This is not a "get rich quick" scheme.   To make your worm farm a success, be realistic about how much work is involved, how much time is required, and how much money you can make.  Do you know the biggest cause of failure in worm farming?  Neglect.  Worms are living creatures and required tending to.  If you aren't paying attention, if you get distracted, problems arise (and I assure you they do).  If you are paying attention, these problems can be address before they do any damage.  Take care of your worm business and it will take care of you.

Small is Better


3. Start small.
If you have no experience with raising earthworms, I implore you to start small.  You can learn a great deal by building one worm bed and stocking it with a few pounds of worms.  Once you get a little experience (and I'm not talking about a great deal of time here, maybe a month or two) you can add more beds.  It's a whole lot easier to deal with unfamiliar problems when you only have a few pounds of worms.  Give it a month and I guarantee you will learn how to care for worms and be better prepared for multiple worm beds in no time at all.

Make Your Worm Farm Work






Save time, money and stress by arming yourself with all the information you can.  Use my Worm Farm Manual as your guide to worm farming
success.




Worm Farm Resources:
Raise Redworms and Raise European Nightcrawlers

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Earthworm Castings Market





Let's continue with the worm castings market.  If you're raising earthworms, you're going to have tons of this highly valued fertilizer.  Did you know that a 3x8x1 foot bed can produce 600 pounds of of worm castings?  This poundage does not include any decomposed organic material that remains from the bedding.  This castings/compost is called vermicompost, an excellent soil amendment.

You can separate out as much of the organic material as possible, leaving mostly castings, and sell for a higher price. Since it is concentrated and you can dry it somewhat, shipping is not a problem Or, simple bag up the old bedding after removing your worms and sell as-is locally to farmers and gardeners.  The extra weight of vermicompost, however, would make shipping costs prohibitive.

Marketing Worm Castings

Sell your worm castings wholesale by the ton to nurseries and farmers, or realize a bigger profit and sell it bagged retail.  Generally, you should bag up your pure worm castings in 5#, 10#, 20#, and 40# bags.  The vermicompost can be sold in 40# bags or by the truck load.

Selling retail requires more work and time, like advertising and making  individual transactions.  But, since the profit is higher, you may want to investigate the possibility if you have plenty of help from the family.

Check out your area for nurseries, farmers, gardeners, local governments, etc. for future worm castings/vermicompost sales.  Once your own lawn or garden is covered with it and thriving, you've got to get rid of it somehow.  And get some cash back in return, of course.


Worm Farming Resources:


No doubt about it, worm castings grow bigger tomatoes.  Market your worm castings to gardeners, farmers and nurseries for extra profit.  The stuff practically sells itself.

Tap into this exploding market for worm castings.  My Worm Farm Manual: How To Grow Earthworms For Fun and Profit shows you how to set up your worm farm for bait and castings. Discover tips, how-to's and how to avoid and fix problems.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Earthworms - Converting Organic Waste Into Fertilizer





Earthworms - Converting Organic Waste Into Fertilizer

Hey, World.  Here's an idea - instead of wasting Zillions of dollars on burning, dumping and otherwise wasting organic waste, feed it to earthworms instead.  You'd save money and you'd create a rich, organic fertilizer (castings) to boot.

Doesn't that make more cents..err..sense?  I mean, really.  Spending money on one hand to haul away and destroy the mountains of organic material produced yearly, while on the other hand spending money to convert precious and ever-vanishing oil into fertilizer...it's crazy.

Facts About Worm Castings

Did you know that:
  • An earthworm eats and excretes it's weight in organic material each day?
  • This excretion, called castings, is richer in nitrogen, phosphate, calcium, and magnesium than the richest topsoil?
  • This rich fertilizer is water soluble - meaning it's immediately available to the plant without any danger of burning whatsoever?

Worm Farming By-Product

What does this all mean to you, an earthworm farmer?  Use this organic conversion capability of earthworms to grow your business.  The value of worm castings as a fertilizer is becoming widely known and accepted, creating an ever growing market and demand for vermi-compost and worm castings fertilizer. Some worm farmers are growing worms just for the castings.

So long as the world is producing mountains of organic waste, there's plenty of worm food for your worms to convert into valuable fertilizer to sell.  Oh yeah, and you'll have plenty of worms to take to market as well.

Worm Farm Resources:






Find out more about worm farming for fertilizer in my Worm Farm Manual.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Worm Breeding and Production






I'm often ask "How long will it take for me to have enough worms to start selling?"  The following facts about earthworm reproduction tells you a lot about the time it takes to start making a profit with your worm farm.
  • Earthworms reach breeding maturity in 60-90 days.
  • These mature worms produce and egg capsule every 7-10 days.
  • Each egg capsule contains 2-20 eggs, with an average of 4.
  • These egg capsules hatch in 14-21 days
If food moisture and temperature conditions are optimum, we can calculate the conservative possibility for one mature breeder earthworm producing  1,200  to 1,500 offspring in the span of one year.   Astoundingly, it is possible for 2,000 mature breeding earthworms to produce more than one million earthworms in a year and one billion earthworms in 2 years.

Consider this scenario:  Take those one million earthworms to bait size (250-300 worms per pound), they would make around 3333-4000 pounds of worms.  If these worms are European nightcrawlers (the very best bait worm), you could market them at retail for around $25.00 per pound.  That would make $80,000 - $100,000 worth of worms from 2000 breeder worms.
Of course, you wouldn't want to sell off all your worms and you would encounter some losses along the way.  But you can see the possibilities from the amazing reproduction capabilities of the lowly earthworm.

When planning your future sales, take these things into consideration:  The longer you wait before starting to sell off your worms, the larger your breeding stock, the more worm production down the line.  Don't sell off too many worms at any one time, thereby depleting your worm population to the point limiting future  worm production.

Worm Farm Resources:






Find out more about worm farm planning in my Worm Farm Manual.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Crawing Worms





It's time to post some recent questions or problems I've been contacted about.

My Worms Are Crawling!

One of my customers in South Carolina called the other day.  His worms were crawling out and he'd lost most of the worms.  After quizzing him, I determined that his worms were crawling because his bedding had "heated up".   Read on to learn the reasons why worm bedding heats up and how to avoid it. 

Fix It Immediately!

First, my advice to South Carolina was:

  • Remove any remaining worms and
  • Hold them in a container with moistened peat moss and/or shredded paper until he can
  • Mix up new bedding to replace the hot stuff, then
  • Return the worms to the new bedding

Hot Worm Bedding?

Heat will kill your worms, whether it's from the weather or from the bedding becoming "hot".  Bedding heats up  from excess microbial activity occurring in "fresh" organic content or grain.

Think of a compost heap.  It needs to "heat up" in order for the organic materials to break down and make rich compost for your garden.  To do this, you layer the pile with  green and brown materials.  Fresh horse manure or fresh grass clippings are your green materials and straw or dead leaves serve as the brown materials.  Not enough green and too much brown  and your pile will not heat up.

Reverse the situation with your worm bedding.  If you use horse manure, cow manure, or grass clippings that have not "aged" enough, your bed will heat up once you add moisture to it.  The only way to ensure your worm bedding materials have "aged" sufficiently (i.e., the microbial activity has reached it's peak and died down) is to pile up the bedding, moisten it and wait.

It's simple:  If the bedding is not aged enough, it will heat up; if it's aged, it won't.  Always wait before adding your worms to freshly mixed bedding to avoid cooking your worms or finding them all over your floor, dead and dying.

Worm Farm Resources:

Find out more about worm farming in my Worm Farm Manual.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Grow Fatter Worms






Two Weeks Or Less To Fatter Worms

Would you like to know how to take your mature-but-still-small worms up to big- fat- juicy bait sized worms quickly? Use the following instruction and get your worms fat SAFELY.

I stress SAFELY here, because sometimes beginners try to force worms to fatten by overfeeding large amounts of grain. This over feeding does not work. In fact, it’s a sure fire way to create problems. Overfeeding of grain leads to “acid-poisoning” - a real worm killer.

The following method only increases the girth of your worms. Nothing will increase the length or worms except time and one other method, which we will discuss later. Provide the following worm “feeder lot”, if you will, and get the fattest worms possible, faster.

Prepare Your Worm Fattening Trays

  • Build, borrow or steal new beds that are no more than 6 inches deep. The number of beds and the size of your beds will be determined by the number of mature worms you want to fatten.
  • Fill these worm beds with prepared peat moss.
  • Moisten this bedding much wetter than your growing beds and keep it moist throughout the fattening period.
  • Harvest mature worms from your growing beds
  • Stock your new worm fattening beds at a rate of no more than 400 worms per square foot.
  • Feed the worms immediately to prevent crawling. (Keep a light on over them to prevent crawling at first.)
  • Keep the worm beds in deep shade

Feeding Your Worm Fattening Trays

The best commercial worm feed is FRM Worm and Cricket Feed. Feed this or a worm feed of your choice daily like so:
  • Dampen the top of the worm bed.
  • Apply worm feed over the entire surface of the worm bedding, dampened again.
  • The next day, remove any uneaten feed and repeat (add less if feed is left over, more if it’s all gone).
  • After a day or two, you can feed twice a day.
  • Turn this bedding every 5 days.
Your worms should double in size in a week to ten days. You can then harvest the worms and sell them or, if additional weight is desired, you can put them back into fresh bedding and repeat. Transferring worms more than twice will not yield much more growth.

Cautions About Worm Fattening Trays

  • Never leave the worms in 100% peat moss bedding for more than 14 days without changing out into fresh bedding.
  • Never turn the grain into the bedding. Remove any uneaten grain first.
  • Never feed more grain than the worms can eat in a 24 hour period.

Tip for Getting The Fattest Worms Possible

Add VermaPlex® to the spray bottle you mist your worm beds with and spray your new worm bedding and whenever you add food. The extra microbes facilitates your worm digestion and makes a healthier bed. You will eliminate a whole host of problems that can occur when holding worms in this manner. Since using VermaPlex® in my holding trays as well as growing beds, I’ve gotten the biggest, fattest, healthiest worms ever.

So, there you have it. These worm “feeder lots” will give you the fattest bait worms around and make your bait customers drool.

Worm Farm Resources:





VermPlex® :  My secret to healthier worms and healthier worm beds.  Mix with water in a sprayer at an 80:1 ratio and mist lightly when feeding or on new bedding.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

How To Fix Wet Worm Bedding





So your wet worm bedding has given you a "worm nightmare". What are you to do?

Prevent Wet Worm Bedding

As I previously stated, the best thing to do is not let your bedding get too wet in the first place.  To prevent your worm beds from becoming soggy:
  • Don't feed your worms soggy food.
  • Don't let rain blow into your worm beds.
  • Don't over-water your worm bedding.
If you somehow break one of the above rules (shame on you!) and your worm bedding becomes too wet, here's what you can do.

Wet Worm Bedding Fixes

Once you've determined your bedding is too wet, you should and must do something immediately.  Don't wait.  Worms can and will die if left too long in wet bedding. Try one or any of these following methods for drying out a too-wet worm bed:
  1. Remove your worms from the wet bedding and put into dryer bedding.
    Do this if the bedding is standing in water or is the very wettest.  This "nuclear option" may be the only safe and surest way to prevent your worms from drowning.
  2. Mix dry bedding material into the too-wet bedding. Dry peat moss is acid, so be careful doing this. You don't want to push your bedding to the acid pH side by adding too much dry peat moss at a time.  But, if your bedding is only slightly wet, you can safely add dry peat moss to soggy bedding and absorb the excess moisture. Mix in the dry peat moss thoroughly.  Recheck to see if you need to add more or if you've add too little. Adjust accordingly.
  3. Add shredded newspaper, cardboard, or computer paper to your soggy bedding. This dry material is the safest, since it readily absorbs the excess moisture without affecting the bedding pH.  Mix the shredded paper throughout the bedding and let it sit.  Check back later to see if you need to add more or if you've added too much and the bedding has become overly dry (thing "Goldilocks", just right).
  4. Remove any lids or covers from the top of the worm bed. You should remove the covering on a too-wet bed anyway.  This allows the moisture to evaporate and may be all you'll have to do.  Put a light on over the bed to prevent crawling.
There you have it. Take care of your wet bedding immediately and you'll wake up from your "worm nightmare" with very few losses.

Related Worm Farm Resources:

Worm Farm Manual: Covers extensively other worm bedding problems and fixes.
European Nightcrawlers: This very popular fishing worm is not readily available. Be the first in your area to offer this excellent fishing worm.





Start Growing  Both Red Worms & European Nightcrawlers

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Is Your Worm Bedding Too Wet?


Your worm bedding can become too wet for various reasons.
  • The food you added contained more moisture.
  • The humidity has gone up and the bedding isn't evaporating as much.
  • You added more water than you realized.
  • Rain blew in on the worm bedding.
A too-wet bed is not a good thing.  As a matter of fact, it can be deadly.  It can also cause your worms to crawl away.

Why is it deadly and why do worms crawl when the bedding becomes too wet?  Worms breathe through their skin.  When the bedding is too wet, oxygen cannot transfer through their skin and the worms actually drown.  The worms crawl because they can't breathe.  Do you blame them?  If they don't crawl, they die.

Bedding that is too wet is also susceptible to mites, mold and "souring".  The bottom-line:  You don't want your worm bedding to become overly moist.

The best remedy for too-wet worm bedding is to not let it get wet in the first place.  Sometimes, though, it just creeps up on you.  You don't realize the weather has changed from hot-and-dry to cool-and-damp or hot-and-humid.  You've been adding water like crazy during that hot dry spell, then all of a sudden, it's not.  You're in a mode of operation, zoned out, worrying about a zillion other things and you just keep watering the same every day.

Or, you've gotten a supply of free worm food, maybe some "spent" grain from the brewery.  It's wetter than what you've been feeding.  The moisture in the feed trickles down through the bedding and gradually saturates it.

Or, it rained like crazy one day.  A record 7 inches of rain blew in that open window, under that tarp, or through that shed roof, and filled up your worm bed.

Whatever happened, that one day, you go to your worm beds and there are worms all over the place.  On the top, up the sides, over the edge, on the floor, out the door.  The more worms you have, the worse it is.  It's called a "Worm Nightmare".  Everybody has one every now and then (a few unfortunate souls all the time) and it is truly a nightmare.

If your bedding becomes too wet, what are you to do?  Well, according to just how wet it is, there are some things you can do.  But whatever you do, do it quickly.  Your crawling worms are dying and your un-crawling worms may already be dead.

Next post.... what to do.

Worm Farm Resources:






Worm beds and worm bedding how-to's are extensively covered in my Worm Farm Manual.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Growing Worms In Hot Weather


There is a record heat wave across the country.  Maybe it's time to talk about hot weather, what it means to your worm farm, and steps you can take to minimize any harm to your worm population.

Problems Growing Worms In Summer

Heat kills worms.  If it doesn't kill them, it can make them sick, slow them down, make them crawl. So what steps can you take to keep your worms cool during hot weather?
  • Make sure you keep your worms moist.  A a matter of fact, keep your worm bedding somewhat wetter than normal.  Careful now.  Not too wet, but a little wetter.  The moisture keeps the bedding cooler, which keeps your worms cooler.
  • Never, ever let your bedding get too dry.  As the bedding drys out, it gets warmer.  Heat isn't the only thing that kills worms.  If the bedding gets too dry, the worms dry out, too and that will kill them just as dead.
  • Make your worm bedding deeper.  It will dry out slower and also gives the worms a cool place to retreat from the heat.
  • Keep your worm beds out of the sunlight.  Any sunlight hitting your bed will heat it up quickly.  Put up extra sunshade of some kind if there is a chance the sun may hit the worm bed.
  • Don't over feed.  Excess food can heat up more quickly during hot weather,  further heating up your worm bedding.  You can always add more food if it gets eaten up too quickly.
  • Keep an eye out for more hatch-lings.  The warmer temperatures brings about more egg hatch-lings and you could have a bed full of young worms overnight.  These extra babies can drive your bigger worms over the top.
  • Watch out for mites and flies.  The record heat can bring on record pests.  Mites can overtake your bedding in short order and flies are the bane of summer.  They can lay their eggs in your worm  food.  Keep a landscape cloth over your bedding to prevent the flies from getting in the food and bedding.
Hot weather can be a worm killer, so be every vigilant during these "dog days" of summer.

Worm Farm Resources:

Red Worms and European Nightcrawlers:  These are the most popular worms to grow.
VermaPlex®:  Add to your worm bed and as you feed to eliminate mites.  Makes worms grow bigger, too.
How To Worm Farm:  More useful information about worms in hot weather and much more.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Do Not Feed Worms


Back to feeding worms....

What NOT To Feed Worms

We've talked a little bit about what TO feed worms. Now, let's discuss what foods are potentially harmful to your worms.

Avoid Feeding Worms:

  • Treated wood products.
    This would include pressure treated wood.  The active ingredient is cyanide, which is poison.  Remember, anything meant to kill pests also kills worms.
  • Any plant material treated with insecticides or weed killers.
    Once again, anything used to kill anything also kills your worms.
  • Paper containing toxic inks.
    Most colored inks, especially yellow, is toxic to people and worms. Carbon paper (does anybody use it anymore?) is also toxic.  Stick to black and white, paper and ink.
  • Salty foods.
    Doctor's orders, avoid salty foods. That goes for your worms, too. No, it won't raise their blood pressure, but salt is a no-no in raising earthworms. Soaking salt containing food stuffs in water before feeding it too your worms removes the excess.   Or, avoid salty foods altogether.
  • Manures from feed lots.
    Feed lot animals are fed huge quantities of salt before slaughter to bulk them up.   The salt remains their manure. These manures also contain a lot of urine. Adequate leeching removes most of the salt and urea acid, if you're industrious enough.  You can also compost the manure for a year. The rain leaches out these harmful substances.
  • Cat and dog feces.
    Don't use any meat-eating animal's poop. It may contain viral or bacterial toxins and just smells bad.
  • Excess citrus peels or pulp.
    You can feed a small amount of citrus, but too much creates acid bedding and that should be avoided at all costs. As a matter of fact, I don't feed citrus.
  • Vinegar.
    This includes vegetables covered with vinegar based salad dressings. Again, it's the acid.
  • Meats and meat by-products.
    Worms will eat it, but it's not pleasant.  Meat smells bad, attracts vermin, and can contain antibiotics and hormones.  Makes you want to become a vegetarian, doesn't it?
  • Green grass.
    Adding lots of fresh, green grass clippings heats up your bedding as it decomposes.  Pile up grass clippings somewhere and allow them to compost before feeding to your worms.
  • Alcohol.
    Very bad for your worms.  Make your worms teetotalers' and skip the booze. Now, "spent" grain is another matter - very good worm feed.
  • Fertilizers.
    Worms are by nature "organic". Avoid anything containing fertilizers. Some manufactures of peat moss add fertilizer to it. Stick to plain sphagnum peat moss for your bedding.
  • Diseased plants or animal waste.
    You don't want to spread anything around, so don't feed any materials from diseased plants or animals.
  • Fruit pits and seeds.
    Seeds have protective qualities that prevent them from being consumed. If worms could eat them, there would be no new plants sprouting in nature. Seeds won't hurt your worms, but they won't go anywhere either and just get passed long in the valuable vermi-compost byproduct you'll want to use or sell.  Keep your vermi-compost seed-free as possible.
  • Chlorine.
    Use non-chlorinated water to moisten your worm bedding and food-stuffs. If you don't have access to non-chlorinated water, simply fill a container with water and allow to sit overnight. The chlorine will dissipate.
For everything else: When considering a potential worm food,  ask yourself  "would I eat this?". If the answer is "no", then don't feed it to your worms.

Bon app├ętit !

Worm Farm Resources:

Get more worm feeding do's and don'ts from my comprehensive worm farming guide.  And a handy starter supply of red worms and European nightcrawlers puts you instantly in the worm farming business.

Monday, July 11, 2011

How To Transfer Baby Worms


Many of you out there have asked how to get newly hatched worms out of the breeder bed and into a growing bed.  Here's a quick. easy and gently way to do just that.

Transferring Young Baby Worms

Cut a piece of small gauge hardware cloth smaller than the top of your worm bed (probably 1/4 to 1/3, according to how many worms you want to capture). Place  onto the top of the worm bedding. Pile onto the middle of this screen your worm feed (horse manure or rabbit manure works best.

Cover the feed and screen with a piece of landscape cloth to block any light. The baby worms will crawl up through the hardware cloth and into the manure to feed. The bigger worms won't be able to crawl through the screen.

The next day or after a few hours, remove the landscape cloth and pick up the screen containing the manure and baby worms. Dump it onto the top of the newly prepared bedding of a new bed or an existing growing bed. Repeat this process until you have removed as many baby worms as you want.

This method minimizes any harm to the fragile newly hatched worms. Your baby worms are now into a growing bed, where you can let them grow up into big fat breeding worms or market as bait/compost worms.

Worm Resources:

Red Worms: The best worm for composting.
European Nightcrawlers: The absolutely best fishing worm.


Worm Farm Manual: A Step-by-Step guide to Growing Worms

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Feeding Worms - Tips


While we're on the subject of feeding worms grain, here's a tip that helps keep your worm bedding's pH correct (neutral).

Save all your egg shells (heck, have your friends and family save theirs, too).  Allow them to dry, crush them and add them to your worm bed.  If you are feeding grains, the egg shell's add a very "worm friendly" calcium to your worm bedding and help neutralize any acid conditions grains may cause.

The old timer's solution to an acid bed is to add calcium carbonate to the bedding.  This remedy may or may not work and may or may not actually cause harm to your worms.  Seems the calcium carbonate creates a carbon monoxide build up in the worm bedding.  If you do apply it, you must toss the bedding repeatedly to release this build up.

My solution to acid bedding?  Don't let it get acid in the first place.  More often than not, you'll have to completely change out the bedding and hope your worms recover.  How do you keep your worm bedding from going acid?
  • Never feed more grain in a 24 hour period than the worms can eat. Remove any uneaten grain and apply less.
  • Never turn grain into the bedding.  Remove any left overs before turning.
  • Limit citrus.
  • Don't overfeed coffee grounds.
  • Feed your worms dried, crushed egg shells.
  • Mist your worm food with a weak solution (80:1) of water and VermaPlex® (a liquid garden soil inoculate made from, get this, worm castings) when you add food and when you change out the bed with fresh bedding.

    Check out Worm Farm Tip #2 on EarthwormWorks.  Bottom line: Your adding microbes to your worm bed because worms need microbes to digest their food.

Worm Farm Resources:





Red Worms, European Nightcrawlers and VermaPlex®:  Worm Farm Combo
Worm Farm Manual: Step by Step Guide to Raising Earthworms

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What to Feed Worms


Another question from Jamye:

Hello. I hope you don't mind me asking a couple of questions. I am wanting to raise European nightcrawlers for profit and for my husband's fishing needs and not for composting, so is there anything simpler that I can feed them, like cornmeal? Can they eat yellow cornmeal, or any type of cornmeal?

Worm Food - What to Feed Your Worms

Feeding worms grain like cornmeal is a little tricky.  Cornmeal is very nutritious, much more so than cardboard. You almost have to feed grain to get your worms to their fattest possible condition.  But there's a danger when using grain to feed your worms.

The problem with grains (cornmeal, Worm Meal, chicken scratch, etc.) is they can sour and turn your bedding acid.  An acid bedding is a real worm killer.  You must keep your worm bedding at a neutral pH at all times to avoid "acid poisoning".  So what do you do in order to fatten your worms with grain? The trick is to apply enough grain so your worms can pig out, but not too much.  Here's how to feed your worms grain:
  • Mist the top of your bedding.
  • Sprinkle your grain over the top of the bedding (think "Parmesan cheese on your lasagna")
  • Mist the grain
  • Remove any uneaten grain the next day before applying new grain.
  • Add less grain if there is too much left over
  • Add more grain if every last bit is gone
The bottom line is feed as much dampened grain as your worms can eat in a 24 hour period.  Other cautions about using grain as worm feed:
  • Always remove uneaten grain before turning your bedding
  • Always use a mister setting to apply water to avoid driving the grain into the bedding
  • Don't let the grain dry out.  Worms can't eat it if it's dry
To answer your other question, Jamye, use plain yellow cornmeal.  Yellow is more nutritious and plain has no salt or leavening compounds.  Commercial worm feed, however,  is much more nutritious than corn meal.  You can buy worm feed at local seed and feed stores, but it comes in 50 pound bags. 

If you only have a small amount of worms right now and you don't use it up, it can get bugs in it.  We have a smaller quantity available of the worm feed we use for those of you who don't have a local source or don't require the large amounts just yet.

Worm Resources

Worm Feed Convenient one gallon quantity of the complete worm food
Red Worms and European Nightcrawlers Combination that saves


Worm Farm Manual A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Earthworms

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Worm Growing Problems Q&A


I've gotten a series of questions from one of my new customers, Jamye.  She is starting to grow earthworms (European nightcrawlers in particular) in hopes of starting a home based business.  After ordering her European nightcrawlers, she was eager to get started, but had some concerns.

"Hello. I hope you don't mind me asking a couple of questions. I am wanting to raise European nightcrawlers for profit and for my husband's fishing needs and not for composting, so is there anything simpler that I can feed them, like cornmeal? Can they eat yellow cornmeal, or any type of cornmeal? Do I place my plastic tote outside with high temperatures, or do they need to be inside for better turnout? It is really not too hot yet.  If I do put them outside, do I need to bring them in during really hot temperatures or cold temperatures? How fast do they multiply? Is it okay for them to be in just topsoil with some cardboard and egg crate mixed in (or some shredded paper)? What is the best thing? Thanks, Jamye"

Whew!  Love your enthusiasm, Jamye.  Here's my answering email:

"Hello, Jamye:

Thanks for your questions.  You can mix the shredded cardboard/paper in with the other bedding (peat moss is good, mixed 50:50)  Moisten the paper as per the guide attached to prior emails.  Dry the eggshells and grind them up and sprinkle on the bed, this will help keep the bedding pH neutral.  Be careful feeding grain (cornmeal).  It will fatten the worms, but there is a danger of "acid poisoning" if you feed too much or it gets turned into the bedding.  Only feed as much grain as they can eat in one day.  Clean off any uneaten grain before adding more or before turning the bedding. 

Worms do best at temps that we like (74).  But as long as the bedding is moist and deep enough and not in direct sunlight, outdoor is no problem. We're in Florida and it gets pretty hot here.  They can withstand freezing temps if it doesn't stay below freezing for more than 3 days continuously, although they will get slow and dormant.  And they may crawl when it gets cold, so leave a light on over them.  It's a good idea to always leave a light on overnight with nightcrawlers (hence the name!)  just as insurance.  They will crawl when it storms, if there's excess noise, or for no apparent reason.  The light will keep them in place.

Good luck with your endeavor.  If you're serious about growing worms (and it sounds like you are) check out our Worm Farming Guide.  It pretty much answers all the questions that we get and will help keep you from making some of the (expensive!) mistakes we made in the beginning.

Oh, and thanks again for your business,  - Bill"

If you have questions of your own, go ahead and post them in the comments section or contact me at info@monroeworks.com.  More to Q & A come!

Worm Farm Resources:

Worm Farm Manual: A Step-By-Step Guide to Raising Earthworms.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Peat Moss and Worm Bedding



One of the most frequent misunderstandings about worm farming and vermicomposting concerns the use of peat moss as worm bedding   Today, the issue has come up twice from two of my customers.  One question was about  the type of peat moss and the other question was about the age of the peat moss bedding.

What Kind of Peat Moss Is Best?

When using peat moss in your worm beds, DO NOT use peat moss that contains additives such as fertilizer.  Miracle Grow peat moss has fertilizer added to it and cannot be used for worm bedding.  The fertilizer will kill your worms. 

Look for Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss for your worm bedding.  It is naturally organic and has not had anything added to it that will harm your worms. Dry peat moss, however, has an acid pH, which is not a good thing.  To lower the pH towards neutral, dampen the peat moss and let it sit for at least 24-36 hours before adding your worms.

Can You Just Use Peat Moss As The Only Worm Bedding Ingredient?

Yes, you can use just peat moss.  BUT, you must change out the peat moss every 14 days to prevent protein poisoning from occurring in your worms and killing them.  That's the reason peat moss by itself is usually used for short term holding and shipping.

If you are trying to grow and breed worms,  it isn't practical to change the bedding this often.  For long term holding, breeding and growing worms, mix something else with the peat moss.  Use a ratio of 50:50 - that is 50% or less peat moss and 50% or more of any of the following:
  • shredded and dampened newspaper or other paper
  • shredded and dampened cardboard
  • aged horse manure (with or without stall bedding)
  • aged and dampened saw dust
Dampen all worm bedding ingredients and let it sit for at least 36 hours.  Check the worm bedding mixture often to see the moisture content, pH level, and temperature. If items such as horse manure or wood chips aren't properly aged, they may "heat-up" and kill your worms. Make sure the ingredients are well past the "heating-up" stage before introducing your precious worms to it.

Worm Bedding Tip:

Always add a few worms to a small amount of the new mix to see how the worms fare.  This way, you won't kill off all your worms should the worm bedding contain something harmful that you aren't aware of.

And always change out your worm bedding when it becomes too concentrated with worm castings.  When and how often is determined how many worms you have and how much worm bedding.  The more worms in the bedding, the more often you need to change it.

If you have any questions about worm bedding, please post them in the comments. 

Worm Bedding Resources:


For more worm bedding and worm bedding maintenance tip's and how-to's, check out my "Worm Farm Manual: A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Earthworms" .

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Worm Bedding For Worm Farm

 


Questions About Earthworm Bedding

Here's a question I get regularly about worm composting bedding or worm farm bedding: "What materials can I use for my worm bedding?"  Bedding is one of the most critical aspects of a successfully worm farm as well as the most misunderstood.  More worms are killed because of mistakes made with bedding than most any other component in raising earthworms.

In my "Worm Farm Manual: A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Earthworms", I spend a lot of time explaining correct worm bedding.  The most important criteria to consider for earthworm bedding are:
  • Worm bedding materials
  • Worm bedding moisture level
  • Worm bedding PHlevel
  • Worm bedding temperature
  • Worm bedding depth
  • Worm bedding age

Avoid Common Worm Bedding Mistakes

The correct mix of different worm bedding materials is very important.  For instance, one of my new worm farmers called.  He was using 100% peat moss  as bedding for his worm growing beds.  If he had continued using this mix of worm bedding, the result would have been disastrous.  Why?
Peat moss, when used exclusively, must be changed out every 14 days or a very unhealthy bedding condition will result.  This unhealthy condition sickens the worms and they will eventually die or crawl away.

After a couple of weeks, peat moss becomes coated and sticky, worms develop protein poisoning and become unable to digest their food.  Protein poisoning is the most common reason for worm die-off and must be avoided at all costs.

Solution?  Combine peat moss, in a 50/50 ratio, with:
  • Aged horse/cow manure
  • Shredded paper
  • Shavings
  • Aged saw dust
Moisten these bedding materials at least 36 hours ahead of time.  Before introducing your worms, check the PH level and moisture content.

Don't Put All Your Worms Into One Bedding

You've heard the phrase "Don't put all your eggs into one basket."  Well, use this same horse sense advice when trying out a new mix of worm bedding.  When in doubt about whether your bedding is good for your worms, take a small amount of worms and put into some of the bedding mixture.  Check these worms in a few days to see how they are doing.  If they look happy and are not crawling, balling up, or crowding into the corners, the worm bedding is good to use.  If they are sick or dead, you know what to do.

If you see any signs of distress, discard the bedding and try to figure out what is wrong with it.  This way, you won't be risking all your worms.

Worm Bedding Tip:

It's o.k. to use peat moss for short term "holding" or for shipping.  Just remember: don't leave the worms in the bedding for too long and change it out every two weeks.

Find details on how to prepare healthy worm bedding in "Worm Farm Manual: A Step-by-Step Guide To Raising Earthworms".

Worm Resources:


Guaranteed live delivery:
Red Worms
European Nightcrawlers

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

10 Reasons Why Worm Farming Is A Great Idea For A Home Based Business


There's no doubt that many folks are looking for a way to earn more money.  Whether you've lost your job or just want to earn some extra cash for your budget,  you may be looking at worm farming as a possible answer to your cash flow problems.

Let's examine the top 10 reasons worm farming may be a good business idea for you to try in 2011 from the "vermicompost and worm castings as fertilizer"side of it. If you raise earthworms, you're going to have literally tons of this stuff.

1.  Economic Downturn.

No one knows how long this "great recession" is going to last.  No one know when the jobs will come back.  No one knows when companies will start hiring again.Instead of waiting around for things to get better, why not be proactive and start your own business?  If not now, when?  You can start a worm farm with very small amount of money as compared to other business.

And you can start earning money in a very short time.  For this reason and for the ones that follow, worm farming is an ideal business for the times.

2.  Rising Oil Prices.

Let's face it.  Oil prices are only going to go up.  The rising demand and diminishing supply pretty much guarantee that.  And with rising oil prices comes rising fertilizer prices.  Farmers and gardeners have been looking for alternatives to chemical fertilizers for a while now so guess what?  Worm castings and vermicompost have gained tremendous interest in recent years as the fertilizer of choice.

The benefits have been know for some time and these organic fertilizers were once widely used. But now that necessity is forcing growers "back to the future" so to speak, the market for worm castings is seeing a tremendous resurgence.

Since the market and interest for worm castings and vermicompost is growing by leaps and bounds, finding buyers for your worm created fertilizer is almost assured. That's a very good reason to consider the worm farming business.

3.  The "Green Movement"

Environmentalism has become main stream.  What was once considered "out there" and "weird" has now been accepted by almost everyone.  Going green and considering the environment when making choices permeates through all of society now.  Farmers, gardeners, and people just looking to make their grass greener are becoming more aware that there are other choices out there than the standard chemical fertilizers and that these choices are better for the environment. 

Worm castings actually improve the soil, adding microbes and humate that will leave the soil better off when it is used. This "green movement" has broadened the market in a huge way, insuring you many more customers for your castings and compost that ever before.  If ever there was a time to be in a sustainable, organic,"green" business, that time is now.

4.  Food Safety Concerns.

With every news event about a new outbreak of salmonella, e-coli, or tainted food, the level of anxiety most people have about the safety our food supply grows.

The rise in home gardening, neighborhood co-ops and the like has increased the demand for organic, safe fertilizers and soil amendments. "Locally grown" is gaining in popularity.  You can probably find buyers for all your vermicompost and worm castings right in your own town.  This local market would be easy and economical to service, as shipping heavy compost and castings can be prohibitive. You could deliver and have pick-up for your vermicompost and pocket the cash.

5.  It's a perfect home based business.

If you are limited in space, you can start small and expand and your business grows and you gain in knowledge. If you have a basement, garage, or backyard, you can find enough space to put in your beds and harvesting tables. 

In our "Worm Farming Manuel", you'll find plans and descriptions of "worm condos" and other bed options that even the most tiny of abodes can accommodate.

6.  You can start small and grow.

Start with one bed or two.  You will begin making money in a very short time  and can put the earnings toward building more beds and buying more "breeding stock".

This slow, steady build up is probably the best strategy for beginners, as you can learn and figure things out without risking money or time while your are in the learning process.

7. It's the perfect "family" business.

The Worm Farming Business can involve the whole family.  Children are usually fascinated by the earthworms and the spouse can participate with the bookkeeping, marketing or the actual daily care and feeding.  What better way to bring the family together than with a common purpose and home-based business.  It's fun, rewarding, and profitable.

8. You can do it yourself.

Conversely, if your a single Mom, divorced or just leaving home to be on your own, the worm farm business is one that you can do all by yourself.  You can always hire temporary help once your business grows, but in the beginning, it's possible go it alone.

9.  Low overhead.

The start up costs are tiny as compared to other possible home based business.  It's a low-tech operation that doesn't require lots of equipment or space.  And the best part about the worm farming business - it's a truly "sustainable" business.  The worms will replace themselves if you manage your population correctly and their castings are your "free" fertilizer.  Once your initial investment of starter worms is made, you probably won't ever have to buy another worm. 

Bedding and feed can be often be found for free and the materials for beds can be salvaged.
Energy consumption is low and "office space" (your kitchen table) can be very cheap.

10.  Doesn't require advanced degrees or high education.

You won't be spending years in the classroom getting a degree before you can start earning very good wages in the worm farming business.  Basic education and a good dose of common sense are the only requirements to be able to handle the day to day operations of your worm farm business.

Not to say that experience in accounting, sales and marketing won't be of added value and will contribute to your success, but the necessary skills and know-how to run a successfully worm farming business is possessed by almost everyone.

As for higher education, you won't learn how to be a worm farmer in any university or school that I know of.  Most of your knowledge will be gained by quizzing worm farmers that you know (if they're willing to part with theirclosely held secrets) and a few dated books out there.

The secrets and methods for worm farming that can speed up your business and save you time and money aren't common knowledge.  If you had access to this specialized knowledge, time would be shortened before making a profit and  the expense of "learning the hard" way by trial and error would be eliminated. 

If you know of a worm farmer nearby or one that you can call, I suggest you contact them and see if they are willing to answer some questions and give you advice.  It doesn't hurt to ask.  I can tell you by personal experience, however, you may find that most worm farmers hold their hard earned knowledge close to the vest.

That's why I've assembled my step by step guide for worm farming, to give the novice worm farmer the necessary know-how needed to get started.

My "Worm Farm Manuel" gives you a good road map to follow and explains how to set up your worm farm, worm beds, and how to market your products.  It contains the knowledge and secrets to worm farming that only comes from years of operating a successful worm farm. 

Rather than learning the hard way, or wasting time trying to figure out the best way to go, our manual answers most of your questions and helps you get off on the right foot in your new worm farming business.

Taking all the questions we've been asked through the years and laying out the business in a chronological and logical order - from start up to making your first sale to increasing your inventory -  I feel this manual will eliminate  most of the fits and starts for you that we encountered when we first began our worm farm business.

So, what are you waiting for?  If you're looking for a way to earn extra money or a good home-based business with low start up costs and a market that's taking off like a rocket, the worm farming business just might be your ticket.

Worm Resources:


Worm Farm Manuel: A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Earthworms
Red Worms and European Nightcrawlers.