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:
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 email@example.com. More to Q & A come!