How to care for your red wigglers?
Critters such as red wiggler worms don’t require a lot of maintenance. Even though red wigglers may be a species of earthworm, they are seldom found in soil – making them ironic creatures for their name. Proper care for your red wiggler is essential if you want to grow them for recycling, worm castings or even just as pets.
Why is red wiggler worms important?
One of the most exciting and fascinating things you can learn via sustainability and circular economy is waste value. What you currently know as rubbish now can become a valuable resource for you if you have a Red wiggler worms farm. These farms can play a vital role in your household’s circular system and because worms are amazing and fascinating creatures they can offer you multiple benefits.
Let’s have a look at some of the benefits that can come up by having your own Red Wiggler Worms farm:
- Whether you have established a Red Wiggler Worms farm or any other, these worms can help you in building good soil effectively via their tunneling characteristics, and aerating the soil. They leave higher nitrogen, magnesium, phosphates and calcium concentration behind in the soil.
- When Red Wiggler Worms borrow around, they eat and process their bedding and food, leaving behind rich organic fertilizer known as worm castings. This can improve your soil and help it in maintaining moisture.
- With the worm castings, you can get an endless supply of a rich, organic and chemical-free fertilizer full of microbes that aid plant growth and help fight off disease without burning plants.
Well, the list of these benefits can go on and on with ease. But if you are all-set to farm Red Wiggler Worms, then you must have a better idea about how to take care of them, and what to feed them.
What to feed Red Wiggler Worms?
When you have started keeping Red Wigglers, providing them with a comfortable and nice bin to thrive in is not going to be enough. You will also need to provide the right supply of food for your worms.
What Food options you should offer to your Red Wiggler Worms?
Here we have enlisted some of the best things you can feed your Red Wigglers Worms:
- Egg shells – Use crushed egg shells to put in your worm bin.
- Vegetables and Fruits – Offer peels and uncooked vegetables to your worms. You can bring any variation of fruits and vegetables to your Red Wiggler worms except citrus to ensure their health and comfort.
- Starchy food – You can use starchy foods to feed your worms, but in the form of oatmeal, pasta and home-cooked bread.
- Coffee Grounds – You can put used coffee grounds in your worm bin too to feed your Red Wiggler worms. However, it is necessary to avoid putting too much coffee grounds in the bin at once. Instead, prefer mixing them with other foods to test the preferences of your worms.
- Garden waste – You can use garden waste in the form of some fallen leaves or dried grass clippings to feed your Red Wiggler worms effectively.
- Sawdust – This can be great to add on your worm bedding. You can use organic scrap wood pieces and fallen limbs as worm food.
- Paper – A great news for homesteads is that composting worms can eat paper happily. Provide them papers shredded into small pieces. Because these will be easier to absorb in soil. Using paper towels and tissues can also be okay but make sure these are not greasy.
- Tea bags – Used tea bags can also be an amazing option to feed your Red worms. Rip up the tea bags before putting in worm bin to make breaking them easier for worms
What to avoid?
Here are the food options that you should not put in your worm bin:
- Citrus Fruits – Citrus fruit or their rinds and peels are not good to feed your compost worms. It is because these are highly acidic. This is irritating for worms when it breaks down in the soil.
- Meat – Meat is a major food group you shouldn’t put in the worm bin. Not only because Red Wiggler Worms don’t like it but also because this can make your compost bin smelly and attract unwanted pests.
- Oily Foods – Red Wiggler Worms can’t process oils and fats. As worms don’t like oily foods, therefore, these will just lie in the bin and can lead to unwanted smell and pests.
- Processed food – Keep processed foods out of your worm bin, because these are full of preservatives. These preservatives are chemicals that are dangerous to your worms potentially.
- Dairy products – As dairy products contain high amounts of fiber and protein. Therefore, your worms don’t care to eat them, so avoid putting these products inside a worm bin.
- Alliums – such as onion and garlic should not be offered to worms, because when these break down, the substances these are going to release in soil can be irritating for your worms.
- Spicy food– Capsicum is the compound that makes spicy food hot on our tongue. This compound can get mixed in the soil when spicy food breaks down. When your worms will dig the soil, they will get in touch with the compound that can make them sick or even kill your worms.
When and how often to feed your Red Wiggler Worms?
To keep your Red worms healthy and happy, it is always recommended to avoid overfeeding. When you are starting your vermicomposting project for the first time, let your worms settle in for a day or two and so that the population of microorganisms can build up before offering them food. Avoid overloading the compost bin during earlier weeks to give your Red Wiggler Worms some time to settle in the new environment.
However, once the environment is set and the new worms get going, then you have to make sure they never run out of food completely. Keep checking the bin every other day, when your worms are wiggling around the last bit of the food, it’s time to offer them more food.
Final thoughts on feeding:
Making your own worm farm and nurturing Red Wiggler Worms is not that difficult, if you know how, what and when to feed them. Besides various other benefits like plenty of worm castings, easy care and maintenance, make Red Wiggler Worms a great option to keep.
However, to let them grow properly, it is important to offer your compost worms balanced food they can eat safely. We have made a share of mistakes and learnt from them, but with the right information, there is no reason for you to repeat all those again. So, make sure to understand what your Red Wiggler Worms love to eat and avoid giving them what they should not eat.
Give them their privacy
Worms, unlike many other pets, work better when they are left alone, in the dark. Because they are technically creatures of the soil, they will work better if there is less light for them.
Space is a necessity
Nobody likes to be squeezed around all the time and try to survive in a highly close environment where they can barely breath. Red wigglers are the same. Even if you plan to use these wigglers for worm castings, you should be giving them adequate space when they are being kept under your control. Because red wiggler worms double in population once every 50 to 60 days, they must be given enough space if you would like to keep increasing your population of worms. The worms will reach a certain population threshold for the size of their bin, once that threshold is reached the worms will stop breeding.
Maintain the right environment:
Here are a few things about the environment that you should take care of if you want your red wigglers to live a long and happy life:
- pH of the bedding – We mentioned this earlier too, the pH of the bedding should be kept between 5 – which is a little acidic, to 9 – which is a little alkaline/basic. Your ultimate goal is to try and make the soil as neutral as possible.
- Moisture – Red Wigglers need a moist environment, because they breathe through their skin. Their Skin must be moist in order for them to breathe. Try and keep 50-70% moisture level. If you squeeze the worm bedding in your hand and water streams out, it is too wet. Too much moisture can cause the worms to drown.
- Temperature – A consistent temperature between 12°C to 24°C is adequate for worms. Anything too high or too low will kill the worms. Even if they don’t die, the worms will want to try and escape the bin.
- Lack of oxygen – Just because something is supposed to live in the ground doesn’t mean that they won’t need any sort of oxygen to live – all living beings do. Make sure your worm bin has plenty of ventilation, avoid filling worm bin to the top with bedding, keep 25% of the bin open for air circulation.
- Nitrogen and Carbon – Finding the perfect balance between Nitrogen and Carbon in the bin is the perfect way to ensure that your worms thrive in their environment and create the best castings. You can add vegetables and paper products for increasing both these compounds in the bin.
We hope that this small article on taking care of red wiggler worms will help you to succeed in maintaining your own worm farm.