What is Worm Farming? Worm farming has been around for years on various scales. While the reasons for worm farming are not widely known, those who participate are big believers in the benefits that these worms have on the environment. Many worm farmers commercially culture worms for profit. Specific breeds of worms are bred and are typically kept in breed specific quarters. Commercially raised worms are typically sold for composting. Some worm farmers distribute to landfills providing a natural method for composting waste. These specifically bred worms are also used for soil fertilization. As worms dig through the soil, they aerate and stir up the soil carrying water with them. The waste that is composted by the worms is broken down into a substance that can be better used by the soil, improving the fertilization of the soil. A healthy soil is then produced for better growing plants, vegetables and crops. In recent years, the supply of worm farming equipment and accessories has made it easier for individuals to make a hobby of this technique. Household sized bins are on the market in a variety of shapes and sizes. Home owners and apartment dwellers have been given the opportunity to raise their own worms for waste compost and soil fertilization. Worm farming provides worms with a nutrient rich diet of what many times is thrown out with the garbage including discarded fruits and vegetables. Other compostable materials include paper products and cotton rags, leaves, egg shells and hair. Excreted by the worm is a nutrient rich substance called vermicompost or worm compost. Worms are also farmed for bait. Small bait and tackle shops often receive their livestock inventory from worm farmers providing fishermen with various worms to use as live bait. Fishermen who fish on a larger scale than the hobbyist often use these worms for bait for anglers and other large catches. Many different worms are available depending on the job. Each variety of worms is used for its own reasons. Red worms are commonly used for composting while the Belgian worms are good for both composting and bait. Home owners looking for worms to keep in lawns and flower beds will find success with Night Crawlers and Wigglers. Worm farming can also be an excellent educational tool. As using worms provide a more space effective way for composting, small kits can be purchased and even hand made to be used in a classroom setting. Students are able to participate in the project learning about how composting occurs. Using natural methods for composting and reducing waste in landfills is easily demonstrated by classroom worm farms. Worms can be farmed just about anywhere. With the various systems available on the market today, home owners can raise their own supply of worms outside or in an apartment. Providing the correct amount of moisture, light, bedding, temperature and food will ensure a long living worm population. In return, the reward will be a natural way for composting without filling up local landfills. As a result, nutrient rich soil is provided that can be used right away or stored for use during gardening season. What Do You Know about Worm Farming? If you have wondered how popular or widespread worm farming is in the United States, or if you have ever thought of starting your own worm farm, you may find the following information interesting. Worm farms on a large scale exist as follows: Arizona, Connecticut, New York, Oregon, South Carolina, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico-1 each. Florida, Massachusetts, Missouri, and the United Kingdom-2 each. Pennsylvania, Texas-3 each. Canada and Washington-4 each. California-15. Of course, there are many that aren't listed as major farms. Many people have their own backyard worm farms. Any business, including worm farming, will take from 3 to 5 years normally to break even after their initial investment and maintenance costs. It's essential to be careful with your purchases and to do your research before jumping into any business. Careful consideration means a better chance of netting profits sooner. What do you know about breed stock? You can find good breed stock in a city gardener's basement supply just as well as you can from any established breeder with the same type of worm. It isn't unusual for someone to try to sell breed stock at an inflated price in any animal business. The population can take as long as 90 days to double no matter where you buy your breed stock. How many worms you should start with depends on several things. How much can you afford? How big do you want your worm farm? How much space do you have now? Are you investing as a second income, for a little pocket money, or are you hoping to grow into a big worm farm? Can you shield your worms from temperature changes? Will you be willing and able to ship your worms elsewhere for selling? Some helpful information to know is: 1. Worms are sensitive to pressure changes in weather. Finding them in the lid of your worm bin before it rains is no reason to panic. 2. Ants will be more likely to enter your worm bins if the bedding is dry or highly acidic. Raise the moisture content or keep the legs of your stand in a container of water. You could try applying petroleum jelly around the legs or adding some garden lime near the ant gathering spot. 3. Cover your fresh worm food with the soil in the bed or lay a layer of wet newspaper over it to get rid of vinegar flies. If you feed your worms too much for them to finish each day, it will invite the little flies, too. 4. A smelly worm bin is a sign that you may be feeding your worms too much for them to digest quickly. Stir the waste lightly to allow air flow and space for the worms to travel more easily and feed less. It may take a little experimentation to figure out how much your worms can process efficiently. The amount will change as the worms multiply. Worm Farming Can Be Fun You may think worms are boring. After all, they just lay there and wiggle. They don't do any tricks that you can watch. They don't make cute sounds. But worms are an interesting, beneficial part of our world. They have several uses that make them worthwhile to our existence. You have to look beyond the obvious and appreciate the results sometimes to get the most benefit from an experience. That's where worm farming comes in. Have you ever heard of worm grunting? Not many people have, it's apparently a dying art. It's a way of harvesting worms that's still kept alive in Florida. One small town has a yearly worm festival and gets visitors from all over to partake in their fun. Professional worm grunters entertain guests to this event. The worm grunters use a simple method to create the kind of vibrations that bring the worms to the surface of the ground for gathering. You could practice worm grunting on your worm farm for your little visitors' delight. Many small children get their fun from grossing out adults, so going to a worm farm or festival would be a great adventure trip for them. Now before you think, "That's it. I don't have to start a worm farm. I'll just gather my worms from the wild woods or people's yards!" You must know that when you take a beneficial part of the environment away from other places, it also takes the benefit of what it does for that area of the earth. That's why re-planting of trees is encouraged, if we take away from the environment we must also return something to the environment or we all eventually suffer the consequences. Even if you don't find any fun in worms, you could raise them for the benefits you are able to get from them. Songbirds like grub worms. Grub worms are white with a red head, a C shaped body, and are about as big as the end of a thumb. If you have a grub worm farm, you can encourage song birds to visit your home property for your entertainment and bird-watching pleasure. So, while you may not consider raising the worm farm to be fun, you can still get your pleasure knowing you are getting more feathered visitors! Your bird-watching friends can gather at your house and enjoy the fun with you. They'll be thankful for your worm farm, too. (Be aware that grub worms do eat plant roots and leave dead, dry patches of grass. So, just encouraging their existence in your yard is not the best idea. You'd want to contain them in their own areas for the safety of your other plants.) You may get some fun from cooking with worms from your own worm farm; this way you will know no pesticides or diseases have tainted them or their flavor. You could entertain children at the local library by using some recipes specifically including the worms for ingredients. If the local librarians aren't open to the idea (some people have an irrational fear of worms and some are just plain grossed out about eating them), you could try a demonstration at the nearest zoo. Flour can be made from the worms to use in recipes. Some worms are eaten raw, but most Americans aren't open to the experience. Worm Farming as Extra Income A worm farm could be a great investment for a little extra income as a first business for a young entrepreneur. A young person with access to a big backyard, who lives in the country or a young person who lives on a farm might find worm farming a great way to get their first experience with business management. Even a child who lives in the city can start a small worm farm if they have a flower bed-sized area to begin. Town folk like to fish and garden, too. Suppose you're looking for something to occupy your spare time during your retirement years? Worm farming on a small scale may be just the thing to keep you busy, to give you an activity that keeps you close to nature, can provide extra income, and can be less demanding physically. Worm farming could be a great interest to share with your young grandchild. You could try it as a way to gain popularity among your fishing buddies or with your gardening friends. Shelter for your worm farm is important for several reasons. Shade from the sun, cover from the rain (you wouldn't want your investment to drown or be washed away), and protection from reptiles and birds are important reasons to have good shelter. Worms go dormant in the winter. You'd have to keep them in a controlled environment to sell them year-round. Sheds, barns, or basements that allow for temperature control are some ideas. Make sure you consider packaging costs. The right packaging for your worms, their castings, or the tea you can make with the drain water could help improve your businesses chance for success. Informative and/or attractive packaging can help spread your trademark to solidify your image in the public eye. But when you first start out, you'll want to keep your overhead as low as possible, so choose your supplies wisely so your extra income will be more lucrative. Plant nurseries, feed stores, or hardware stores are some ideas for places to contact about allowing you to sell your products from your worm farm. You may be able to sell on a consignment basis. You could rent a booth at a flea market to get a start on selling your products. To make extra income, you have to be willing to let go of some first! You might try making a deal with a local livestock farm to trade some fishing worms for manure to help feed your worms. Just make sure there's no residue left in the manure that would kill your worms. If the animals have been wormed recently, or if they have parasites of the wrong kind, it could wipe out your stock. Chicken manure may be the least attractive manure since it tends to be "hot". Also, remember not to use fresh manure. It's better if it has aged for a few weeks. Some people enjoy worm farming as a way to manage their stress levels. They find it relaxing to harvest the worms. Just as people find relaxation in gardening or bird-watching, worm farming can relieve tension and give you an outlet to focus on. It may even be a way to help your child make new friends with the kids on the block! Understanding Worm Farming Some people ask, "Why in the world would I want to have a worm farm? There are plenty of other useful farms that sell vegetables, fruits, animals, and eggs. What good is a worm farm?" Well, it's an understandable reaction. After all, it's usually the quiet people in society that go unnoticed; so why shouldn't there be quiet creatures that go unnoticed? People underestimate the value of the worm. It's true that there are worms that do damage to crops, animals, and people. Worms in your intestinal system are best flushed out. That's why dogs and cats, even horses and cows receive worm treatments. These worms are taking away nutritional values the animals need to survive. What about the good worms? The first reaction to a worm is, "Ewww, gross." Or, "Is that a snake?" Well, understanding anything is the key to appreciating it more. No, a worm is not a snake. The good worms are not poisonous and have positive benefits that are not readily seen. They're hard-working little creatures and deserve our respect. So, what are good worms? Earthworms, compost worms, and fishing worms are good worms. Earthworms are found in rich soil. If your plants are healthy and growing, chances are there are earthworms down there toiling away to help make this happen. Those die-hard fishermen can tell you about the benefits of a good, fat fishing worm! Catfish and bream are two of the type of fish that enjoy worms. Let's not forget the healthy birds that flock to your yard to sing and play for you and your children or husband. These birds eat more than just the seed in your feeder, which is a good thing since the seed will run out and be forgotten by the well-meaning providers. That's where the worms come in to take up your slack! People farm worms for useful reasons. But there are also reasons most people can't accept in general society yet. Worms can be great food for people. Mealworms, earthworms, grub worms, butterworms, and tomato horn worms are all edible. There are restaurants in Singapore that offer worms as a meal choice. Worms are eaten in Thailand, Mexico, Australia, Africa, Asia, and South America. People who are trying to survive in the wild, like our military soldiers, are taught to eat worms as a source of protein. They're low in fat, too. Although people may not readily eat worms in America, worm farms can still provide a source of exotic food for those who do. The worms can also be shipped to other places, but the temperature has to be right so they'll live during shipment and upon arrival. Worm farms can also produce special food called "hornworm chow", meal, and flours for use in cooking breads and cakes. Hornworm chow is sold as a powder for about $10 per 1/2 pound to feed about 85 worms to adulthood. This chow also feed chameleons. So, as you can see worm farms are special and understanding them can be interesting and helpful. Why Worm Farming is Important It may come as a surprise to some that worm farming is beneficial to our environment. After some research into the topic it may be shocking to learn how important these hidden crawlers really are. There is more to them than just crawling through the garden. Worms have been around since the beginning. During the age of the dinosaurs, worms ploughed through rotting debris and excrement, composting it into a more usable substance. Millions of years ago they were efficient creatures and today they remain the same. So why is worm farming so important? There are three common reasons for worm farming both commercially and individually. The first reason is for composting. Worm farming provides an effective and efficient way for composting food waste and other biodegradable items. On the larger scale, worms are used in place of landfills by commercial companies. The worms compost waste eliminating unnecessary overflows in landfills. Certain landfills also use worms to help compost the waste that has build up over time to try to prevent an overflow. On a smaller scale, home owners and apartment dwellers are able to run their own personal worm farms. The purpose is to provide a more natural way for composting discarded food products and other items, instead of sending them to the local landfills. Various sizes of personal worm farms are available on the market today. These can typically be used both outdoors and indoors for those with limited space. Having a personal worm farm means that individuals are able to employ worms to naturally compost items such as fruits, vegetables, breads, cereals, paper products, soaked cardboard, egg shells and hair. What is given in return by the worms is a naturally nutrient rich organic substance that can enrich soil for gardens, crops and house plants. This brings us to the next reason for worm farming. Vermicompost, or worm castings, is the product the worms produce as they compost and digest their provided diet. These castings are as rich in nutrients as the food items provided to them. This substance is so rich in nutrients that it can be used as an effective plant food for a small pot for up to two months. Vermicompost is one of the best fertilizers available. Chemical fertilizers can be replaced by using natural vermicompost. Chemical fertilizers often produce a fast effect, but when the soil is analyzed, it is found that the nutrients in the soil are being further broken down by the chemicals. This requires that even more fertilizer be used later on to produce the same effect. Chemical pest removers and poisons have led to the destruction and evacuation of worms in many areas. The worms are either killed by the poison or they leave the area as the soil is no longer healthy enough for them to live in. Using vermicompost as a natural fertilizer helps eliminate the need for chemicals that destroy the soil and rid the area of these helpful worms. Some worms can be used in garden beds, improving the quality of the soil as they plough through pulling water into the soil and aerating the bed as they go. Another reason for worm farming is the production of worms to be used as live food and live bait. Many exotic pets, birds and aquarium fish require the addition of live worms to their diets. Offering worms for this reason gives pet owners an opportunity to purchase live food that has not been chemically altered or treated. Professional fishermen, bait and tackle shops, and the fishing hobbyist are often on the search for good suppliers of various worms that are best suited for live bait in both freshwater and salt water. Worm farms offer these buyers a chance to purchase organically raised worms that will produce the best results when fishing. As surprising as it may seem, worms are a very important part of our environment. Worm farming is just a way to be able to appreciate their effects on a more personal level. They are hard workers and keeping them happy in a worm farm will help ensure a healthier environment, less overflow of the landfills and a higher level of plant growth. Facts about Worm Farming Worm farming is a great way to naturally compost waste and other discarded materials. As a result, nutrient rich soil is produced and can be used in flower beds, crops, and gardens. Regardless of all the reading and research one does, issues may arise and can cause some concern. Here are a few of the commonly reported questions and issues with worm farms. Smell It is often thought by many that a smelly worm farm is normal. In fact, it is not. If worms are kept in an appropriate environment, they will not smell. If the farm has an odor, the most likely cause is overfeeding. Material to be composted is placed on the top layer of soil for the worms to consume. If too much is given to the worms, it can begin to rot causing a build up of bacteria within the walls of the worm farm. This is the cause of the smell. To remedy the situation, simply discontinue feeding of the worms until any uneaten material is gone. The soil should also be stirred for aeration and to allow the worms to move more freely. Bugs and other pests Using a container with a tight lid can help prevent many pests from infesting the worm farm but some are sneaky enough to make it in regardless. Small vinegar flies are often a complaint among worm farmers. This type of fly is of no harm to the worm farm but typically is a result of overfeeding. Large flies appear when there is an abundance of food. Ants are also a common issue. If ants are seen in the worm farm, the chances are pretty good that the soil is too dry. Adding water to the soil to increase the moisture can help eliminate ants. If using a worm farm that stands on legs, simply apply some petroleum jelly to the legs to prevent the ants from being able to climb up. Maggots can be found in worm farms where meat is offered to the worms. The best scenario is to eliminate meat from the diet altogether. If maggots have made their way into the worm farm, they can be eliminated by placing a milk soaked piece of bread into the farm; the maggots will be drawn to it and can simply be removed. Worms leave the farm This topic leaves it up to the worm farmer to figure out what the problem is and fix it. If a worm is leaving, he is unhappy with his environment and is in search of a more suitable one. Worms will escape for reasons such as the soil being too dry or there isn't enough food. On the other hand, soil that is too wet could also be affecting the worms, causing them to want to leave. The source of the problem should either be eliminated or fixed. If the soil is too dry, fresh water should be added to the farm. If it is too wet, the excess should be drained and new bedding should replace the old. Locate the cause of the excess moisture and eliminate it. Ensure that the worms are getting enough food and the farm is in a location where the temperature will remain constant. Feeding There may be some confusion on what to feed worms. Appropriate foods to feed include fruits, vegetables, egg shells, greens, tea bags and coffee grounds and filters. Non-food items can also be fed to the worms and include soaked cardboard, paper products, cotton rags, leaves, dirt and hair. More important are the items that should not be fed. Dairy products, meat, citrus, onions and garden waste that has been treated with chemicals are all things to avoid in a worm farm. These are just a few of the common topics when it comes to worm farming. Although they are pretty easy to care for, it is important to realize the reason for some of the changes or issues noticed within the worm farm. Problems should be corrected early to prevent the loss of the worms. Providing a proper environment, correct food, appropriate moisture level and temperature will help ensure a supply of happy and healthy worms. What Do You Need to Know About Worm Farming? Maybe you want to try something different, something unique to your area, or just something to gross out your neighbors! Worm farming is educational, beneficial to nature, and has a lot of potential in the market if you know how to push your product. An earthworm can lay 900 eggs a year. That's a lot of eggs. They can produce CO2. That's a positive thing. Their digestive system helps neutralize acidic soil or soil with a high alkaline level. That's a gardener's friend. Worms are a source of food for other animals. A natural food that is safe and healthy. So, how can you go wrong with a good worm farm?! An interesting and strange thing to know about worm farming is that many years ago Cleopatra declared earthworms to be sacred, gods of fertility. A little old earthworm was protected and cherished, death to the person who caused harm to the earthworm. America is not so kind to the lowly earthworm. Usually it is forgotten, ignored, or used for bait or gardening purposes. Some other cultures use it for food, which could be considered sacred to a starving person! A healthy thing you need to know about worm farming is that if you want to lower your cholesterol level, go eat worms. Seriously, earthworms can reduce your cholesterol level because they contain Omega 3 oil. You are probably saying that you'd rather have a high cholesterol level. But what else are you putting in your system on a daily basis? To a vegetarian, meat eaters are the sick people. To the meat eater, only eating vegetables can seem crazy. So, who's to say eating worms is wrong, especially considering the health benefits. They're good protein, less fattening, cheap to produce and cost a lot less than steak! If you prefer a sophisticated term for this oddity, its scientific term is entomophagy. Worm farming is usually done for reasons other than eating, of course. Those worms in the bait shop or in the pet store have to come from somewhere. Now you know where they came from. Worm farms do have their risks, of course, as does any business. Making money with them is not necessarily easy. You have to know your worms, know your market, and know how to manage your money. Feeding your worms doesn't cost much for a small worm farm. They eat dirt, decayed leaves, animal manure, living organisms found in the soil, vegetables and fruits, non-glossy paper products, grains, grass clippings, and wood pieces. Just make sure that whatever you feed them has no residues of any type of poisons. You can start a worm farm in a simple container with some dirt, holes for air and drainage, moisture, and food scraps. Large containers will need some sort of sifting tray for when you are ready to harvest your worm crop. You may want to capture the drainage to use for tea for your plants. Once you see how the process works on a small scale, you can decide whether or not it's something you would want to become further involved with as a substantial business. Worm Farming is Safe, Natural, and Healthy in Many Ways Are you tired of seeing all that trash along the riverbanks and ponds because of the plastic lures the fishermen use? Are you tired of the cost of potting soil, fertilizers, and compost? Are you tired of the expensive pet foods that contain ingredients of uncertainty? Are you tired of not knowing how to help our eco-system, our environment, our future? It doesn't happen all at once; it takes the efforts of many people doing the right things and making the right lifestyle choices. Then maybe you should give worm farming a try. It's safe, natural, and healthy in many ways. Worm farming can be done with earthworms, catalpa worms, meal worms, red worms, or grub worms. You can try having more than one kind, but there are benefits to keeping them in separate containers. One such benefit is being able to track the progress of each type. One benefit is having them separated for the different reasons you would want to use them. One reason for keeping them separated is to make sure you have the correct temperatures and the correct conditions for each type to thrive. Earthworms, meal worms, and grub worms are edible. Maybe you don't want to partake of this sort of exotic delicacy yourself. It may just be a little too safe, natural, and healthy for your tastes! But what if you could extend the life of your furry pets by adding the cooked worms to their dry food that you've made yourself? Even animals that don't naturally eat worms can benefit from eating them in another form. Worm farming is one of the less dangerous types of farming. You don't have to have a big farm that takes lots of employees and expensive equipment to have a worm farm. You can have your own little worm farm for your own personal benefits. Encourage your kids to join in and use it in class for show-and-tell time. It's a way of getting up close and personal with natural science. Little gardeners can enjoy the benefits of this safe farming. And if you are raising the edible worms, you won't have to worry if your tot does experiment by popping one in his or her mouth! Although the catalpa worms are not one of the edible worms, they are still safe and natural to use as fish bait. The catalpa trees are well-known along the rivers and swamps of the southern states in the United States. Texas, Louisiana, and Florida residents enjoy the bait from these trees. They can be established outside of their natural habitats with the proper knowledge and conditions. They tolerate heat well, but need well-drained, moist, rich soil to do well. They can grow to 90 feet and can provide shade and other benefits trees add to the natural balance of life. If you live in east Texas, you are well-acquainted with the pest called the June bug. You may not have known, however, that this pest comes from the grub worm. Not the gardener's friend, but useful in other ways, this worm is one of the delicacies in other countries. You just have to know your creepy-crawlers so you can help others learn more about what's safe, natural and healthy: worm farms -- spread the word! Worm Farming: A How-To Guide Often times when someone hears about worm farming for the first time they think about how it could easily generate revenue with little effort. Perhaps the thought of having a personal supply of nutrient rich soil for the garden or flower beds sounds appealing. Either way, it's important to know how to set up a proper worm farm your specific reasons. To understand how to set up a worm farm, the benefits worms provide must first be established. Worm farming provides nutrient rich soil yielding a higher growth rate for vegetables, flowers and other plants. A natural technique for composting with worms is beneficial to the environment as it helps eliminate the over filling of landfills. Some worm farms are established for the purpose of providing live bait to fishermen, exotic pet owners and even aquarium fish owners. With the purpose of the worm farm in mind, the set up can begin. Worm bins are readily available for purchase on the Internet. Various sizes, shapes, and colors add to the selection. Current large scale worm farmers will often sell small set ups for a comparable price. Other than purchasing a unit online or through a commercial worm farmer, set ups can be made at home out of a number of household items. Plastic tubs or large wooden boxes can be altered and provide a perfect home for these working worms. Multiple layers are needed to provide a space for the liquid at the bottom. The liquid will run off the soil above and can be drained via a tap or hole at the bottom of the container. Within the upper layer of soil, the worms can move about towards the material to be composted. The numerous models that can be purchased are also available for indoor use for those with limited or no outdoor space. Worm bins can typically be stacked for adding more worms later on. Appropriate bedding will need to be provided for the worms to ensure a healthy life style. Peat moss or coconut fiber containing a small amount of compost material is well accepted. Bedding should always be moist for worms. Many prepackaged worm bins come complete with bedding and set up instructions. Location of the bin is important as well. Worms are unable to tolerate extremes in temperature. A location where temperature can be controlled between 72 -- 75 degrees Fahrenheit, or choosing a fully insulated system, will help keep the worms healthy and happy. The level of moisture within the bin can be affected by location too. When a unit is chosen and prepared, the worms will need to be added to start the farm. Various worms are readily available. Red Wigglers are the best choice for composting farms while European Night Crawlers are best for live bait. When worms are purchased, they typically come with acclimation instructions. An important step is to be sure the bedding and unit are fully prepared before the worms arrive for placement within the farm. Feeding the worms is the fun part. They can consume any number of items to be used as compost including fruit and vegetable scraps, egg shells, paper products, cotton rags, soaked cardboard boxes, leaves, dirt and hair. Items should be cut down to manageable sizes. Fruits should be sliced into strips for easier consumption by the worms. Provide a layer of items to be consumed on the top layer of the soil. To avoid over feeding, only add more food when most of previously fed food has been eaten. Worm castings can be found in the bottom layer of the soil. This natural fertilizer can be added directly to flower beds and gardens. A liquid fertilizer can be made by adding water to castings for plants and flowers that prefer to be fed directly at the roots. Worm farming is relatively low maintenance. If the habitat is less than desirable, the worms will often simply crawl away in search of better living conditions. Keeping the temperature constant, moisture at an appropriate level and food readily available will help ensure a healthy and happy supply of working worms. How to Build Your Own Worm Farm So you've decided to take the plunge and set up your own worm farm. Perhaps you're looking for a natural way for composting waste, are interested in the nutrient rich fertilizing substance produced by the worms, or are looking to provide a constant supply of live bait or live food for exotic pets. Regardless of the reason, you're going to need to set up a bin. Various models are available for purchase at worm farming supply companies and garden centers. These come in different shapes, sizes and colors and each have their own benefits. The frugal approach is to build your own. The first thing to consider is how big of a container you're going to need. To figure this out, you'll need to first measure out approximately how much waste you are going to need to use for feeding. For each pound of waste, you'll need one square foot of space in your bin. Depth should be at least six to twelve inches. A plastic tote or container works well as do wooden boxes. Metal containers should not be used as irons and chemicals can leach into the soil, harming the worms. Many worm farmers prefer wooden boxes over plastic as wood is more easily aerated. Plastic can cause more moisture to build up than wood, which can be both good and bad. Once a container of the appropriate size has been chosen, it'll need to be prepared. Holes should be drilled or punched through the top of the container to allow for air flow. There are two ways to address the bottom of the container. One method is to drill or punch holes into the bottom of the container to allow excess water and other liquids to drain out. Another is to install a spout at the bottom of the container. When liquid begins to fill up in the bottom, the spout is turned on and releases the fluid. If using a spout, a raised shelf should be added within the container. This shelf should be the same width as the container, but be allowed to sit a few inches above the bottom. This will allow the empty space at the bottom to fill with liquid and prevent it from sitting in the soil and bedding. This raised shelf should be made of slats or have several holes to allow liquids to drain into the bottom of the container. If a raise shelf is not used, screening should be installed over the holes to allow liquid to run out of the container but prevent worms from squeezing through. Screening should also be attached to the top of the container to prevent escape. Some thought should be put into what will be used for bedding material. Soaked and shredded newspapers, cardboard and even dampened leaves can be layered in the bin. Regardless of the material used for bedding, a small amount of soil should always be mixed in. If using the raised shelf system, bedding should be layered on top of the shelf. The container should be put in a location that will ensure optimal conditions. Temperature should remain between 72 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The bin should not be placed in an area of the yard that will gain excess rain water, either. Once the bin has been constructed, bedding has been added and the perfect location has been found, the next step is to add the worms and begin your own worm farm. Worm farming is rewarding whether it is done for a profit or a hobby. Constructing an appropriate home for these guys is your first step towards becoming an authentic worm farmer. Tips for the New Worm Farming Adventure There are many different types of worms that are both good for you and bad for you. You must first know the difference before you choose which you invest in for your worm farming adventure. Worms such as tapeworms, ringworms, and pin worms are not good investments for worm farming. The types people raise to sell and use are those they can sell for fishing bait, food for birds and reptiles, or those used to help benefit the soil and their by-products. Worms have no exoskeletons and are not created the same inside as humans and other animals. A worm has one brain and five hearts. Earthworms breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. They can't control their own body temperatures and can't maintain a body temperature. When they're in captivity, they must depend on you to help them survive in the right temperature. Some people grow worm farms for their own personal adventure. Kids use them for pets. Gardeners encourage their growth to gain healthy crops or flower gardens. They create excellent natural compost and fertilizers! Some people eat worms, although it isn't something that is a big hit in the United States. Composting is encouraged to help the environment and to keep the waste down that is hauled to landfills daily. Worm farming is one small way to help. Small ways add up to big benefits when enough people join together in their efforts. If you have complaints about the environment, if you've thrown away food scraps, newspapers, sticks and grass clippings or leaves, if you want to be involved in a positive way to help then worm farming may be just the right adventure for you to take! Earthworms, red worms, catalpa worms, and grub worms all make good fishing worms. If you want a variety of worms, though, you need to know that not all worms are raised the same. Not all worms make good bin partners because of the different temperature requirements. Not all vegetables or food scraps make good food for your worms either. Strong foods like onion, garlic, and hot peppers are not as readily welcomed. If the worms don't want to eat them, they'll eat everything else first. That leaves a smell to your worm bin, which can ruin your new adventure really fast! It's not like your own mom making you eat all your vegetables when you were little. These are not children and shouldn't be tortured to endure foods they don't want. If you feed an animal something that isn't good for it or that it doesn't like the taste of, it can starve itself to death and will just end up resenting you or trying to escape to get to the better food source. Meat products are not a good idea for your worms either since they can contain diseases, poisons from the animal's system created by the medicines you must give your pet, and also a bad smell when decomposing. Check out what the other worm farmers are doing. Their prices, shipping methods, growing bins, advertisements may all come in handy for helping you plan your own adventure in worm farming.
Who Benefits from Worm Farming Worms have been a benefit to mankind and nature long before worm farming became well-known. Worms provide food for other animals, help create and maintain healthy soil and plants, enhance gardening efforts, provide fish bait, and help teach our children about pets and other valuable lessons. Worm farms are a part of natural science. A nature museum or a zoo would benefit from a small worm farm as a display and to help feed the animals kept there, as well as keeping the scenery bright and fresh because of the benefits to the earth. A petting zoo could make a worm farm part of their hands-on attraction. You might start a worm farm as a science project with a class or with your own child. It would also make a good FFA project. A small gardening club may want to invest in worm farming. A person who raises birds could start a worm farm or buy from a worm farm to provide treats for their birds. Pet shops could buy from worm farms to feed their fish or reptiles. Parents could benefit from a worm farm as a way to teach their young children about recycling, their first pets, compassion, the natural food chain, gardening, and about business. Worm farms are a way to help the economy by buying and selling. They provide a useful service by increasing the health of soil, they provide a useful product, and they encourage equipment sales. They increase the sales of the supplies needed to maintain the farms. They provide an extra income for the seller as well as jobs for any workers needed on the bigger farms. Catfish farms would benefit from worm farms by starting their own or buying from one for their fish food. Fishermen benefit from worm farms by using natural resources to fish to help keep down the sales of artificial lures, which cause extra trash along and in rivers, lakes, and ponds. People who run chicken houses would benefit from worm farms because of the large amounts of food the chickens need. So, who benefits from worm farms? We all can. Even if you never touch a worm, you still eat vegetables or fruit that come from the plants produced in the soil that worms helped make healthy! Gardeners have known the benefits for years because of the benefits to their compost piles and the results of their flower beds or vegetable gardens. Worm farms can help a person open up conversations, which creates more acquaintances and possible friendships. They can bring people together who are nature lovers, fishermen/women, gardeners, recyclers, teachers, and even business owners. People can learn to respect the hard-working little worms even if they never quite get over their squeamish reactions to them. Many worms are nature's friend. For those who aren't squeamish, worms can even be an exotic treat. They are well-known in other lands as a source of human food. Then again, many of us found out as children taking dares that eating a worm is a fun way to gross out our peers! Where to Find Worms for Worm Farming Setting up a worm farm requires three things. The first is an appropriate bin for containing the worms. The second is plenty of compost materials to keep the worms properly fed. The most important thing needed for a worm farm is, in fact, the worms. Learning where to find worms is the first step. It is important to note that worms collected from the garden in the wild should not be used in a worm farm. Various types of worms are available on the market specifically for worm farming. These worms are sold for traits that make them more desirable for composting or as live bait. An established worm farm can require a large number of worms to be efficient enough to compost enough material for a small family. Most small worm farms need to start out with at least 1000 worms. The first place to find worms for worm farming should be the local bait and tackle stores. These places typically sell a variety of worms that can be used for both composting and live bait. The Red Wiggler is known as being the best worm for composting and can usually be found in establishments such as these. The Internet provides a mass amount of options for purchasing just about any kind of worm to use in a worm farm. Red Wigglers, Night Crawlers, Florida Wigglers, egg capsules and even exotic breeds of worms can all be found. A simple search on any search engine will produce a number of opportunities and choices. Purchasing live animals online also means that shipping is something to take into consideration. Care has to be taken when collecting and packaging the specimens. Most worms ship well and with ease but shipping methods should be investigated. Simply ask the supplier what the rate of live arrival is and find out what their shipping methods are. The local garden centers have proven very helpful as a supply for worms. Typically they sell other supplies for worm farming as well. Depending on the geographical location, most garden centers have a full line of the various types of worms available for purchase. The staff is available to answer questions about worm farming for new beginners. If a specific type of worm is found to be unavailable at a garden center, an order can often be placed for particular varieties. A very commonly overlooked option for locating worms is other worm farmers. Worm farmers often have a surplus of worms and are more than willing to part with them. Some are willing to offer them up in exchange for taking them off their own hands while others will sell them for a low fee. Local worm farmers can often be found in the yellow pages under "worm" or "worm farms". This provides a great source as worm farmers are often more than willing to give tips and hints for a successful farm. Worm farming can be fun and rewarding. Knowing where to find good quality worms is essential in maintaining a successful farm. Once a worm farm is established, it may one day prove to be yet another outlet for those who are new to the worm farming world. Worm Farming with Mealworms Mealworms are scavengers. It doesn't necessarily make them a bad worm, but it does help to understand them. If you want to start a mealworm farm, you can find starters in damp, spoiled grain and grain products. Perhaps you have access to a grain bin of some sort, a grain processing plant, or can get infested cereal from a cereal factory. The dark mealworm is the species found throughout the United States. Anyone who has found them in their flour or corn meal would not consider them friends! But in this instance, you can turn an enemy into a friend and gain a profit from the experience. The trick to worm farming of any kind is to start small and work your way up. You have to learn your limits and gain experience, find a market for your mealworms, and become educated about your product. But anything worth having is worth working for. People have been known to use the mealworm as fish bait or food for their birds or reptiles. They're people food in some places! One interesting fact about mealworm farming is that powdery residues can build-up in the containers. This residue, also known as frass, contains mealworm eggs. You can separate this frass with a sifter of some sort once a month, keep it in a separate container, and feed it with raw pieces of potatoes or bran. It takes a month for the eggs to hatch. Females are capable of producing up to 500 eggs, but the adults only live a short time of 3 months at most. They get their fluids from wet fruits like apples or over-ripe bananas and vegetables such as the potato or carrot. They also lay eggs on these foods. You can keep them alive and dormant at temperatures over 40 degrees. They prefer warm environments of 80 degrees to grow and change. So, don't plan on them reproducing at the lower temperatures. Did you know you can eat mealworms raw and live? Ok, it's not your average meal, but it's healthy and is encouraged in other countries. If you want the benefits, but can't stomach the thought, maybe you could try baking them or turning them into flour to use in other recipes. Just spread them on a lightly greased baking sheet and cook for up to 3 hours at 200 degrees. They're done when brittle. Toss them into a blender or grinder until they resemble wheat germ. If nothing else, you could safely serve them to that irritating cousin just for a laugh. It can be your little secret! Meal worm farming is one of the cheapest worm farming you can enter. It's a great way to experiment and can be a safe way to feed your pets something natural and healthy. You could add the worms to your dog or cats diet by using the flour to make your own dog or cat food. Safe, natural, and healthy is the wave of the future. Worm Farming Predators It may seem ironic that the very animals you may produce your worms for would also be the predators you have to protect your worm farm from. If you just give the worms away to the predators, there isn't much point in trying to raise them for profit by selling them to the people or businesses that use them to feed the very same types of predators! You must keep other things from harming your worm farm, of course. One of those things is the medication residue that is left in the manure you may get from livestock farms to feed your worms. Allowing children unsupervised access to your worm farm could be hazardous for your worms. Improper drainage is not a good thing for your worm bins. Using contaminated water to keep your beds moist is harmful. Using paper or cardboard shreds that have come in contact with pesticides is another bad idea. But the predators can be fierce source of competition for any farm, including your worm farm. Many types of birds enjoy worms. Moles, hedgehogs, foxes, toads, snakes, beetles, leeches, slugs, and parasites all feed on worms. Parasites are another reason you have to be careful with the manure you feed your worms. Mites and cluster flies can be hazardous predators to your worms. Anything that is a threat to eating the food you feed your worms can be a danger as well. Worms are voracious eaters, so if they aren't fed enough, they'll suffer or try to leave your worm beds. If another predator is eating up the food they need, you could suffer a great loss even if they aren't interested in eating the worms. If you have raccoons in your area, this may present a problem since raccoons are known to be great at getting into containers and figuring out latches! There's nothing wrong with feeding birds even when you won't be making a profit from it. But you may want to encourage the birds to eat in other areas of your yard to distract them away from your worm beds. If you have to worry about the neighborhood in which you live or if you live close to a public area, you may want to protect your worms from another type of predator. Thieves who want free fishing worms could present a problem. Sometimes even living in the country isn't a guarantee that you won't have trespassers. So, make sure your access to the worm bins doesn't make it too easy for unwanted visitors of any kind! One way to protect your worm farm from predators is to invest in a shed that can be locked and is constructed to make unwanted access more of a challenge. Small birds can get into small places. If you can keep the floor clean, it helps guard against invasion as well. A concrete floor could be hosed off easily. You'll have more success at protecting your investment if you keep the container they are in off the floor by using something to provide legs of some sort that can also be set in a bowl of water. Worm Farming is a Fisherman's Friend Red worms, red wigglers, or manure worms are said to be best for composting. They're also known as fishing worms. You can find them in leaf litter, manure piles, and bait shops. The ability to produce fast makes these worms appealing for worm farmers and fishermen. You can start your red fishing-worm farm in a small, cheap plastic container such as a margarine dish or cool whip container. Start with a small collection, say....under a dozen, just to get a feel for the journey ahead and decide if you want to invest further. Add at least one big spoonful of dirt or compost, some thin strips of notebook paper or newspaper (not glossy), a cup of water (you want moisture, not soggy contents), fine sand or crumbled eggshells, and a little cereal or fruit. (The worms aren't as partial to citrus fruits because of the acid content.) You'll have to punch holes in the sides and the lid, at least a dozen in each. There must be oxygen flow and drainage. Worms can't survive without oxygen. And you may have noticed that they rise to the top of the ground after a hard rain. Your worms will eat many things that you would normally throw away. Almost any food scrap will do, but there are some that are discouraged. Meat scraps, citrus scraps, garlic, onion, and hot peppers or really spicy foods are not good choices. You should be careful about exposing your worms to pesticide residues used on food or contained in manures. Although the fishermen's friend will eat cardboard because it's a wood product, make sure the cardboard is not contaminated with any poisonous residues. You have to feed them at least three times a week. Bury the food under the bedding for the best results. You can check out bait shops to get an idea of how much to price your worms if you plan to sell them. You don't want to be too high or too low compared to other worms sold in the area for fishing bait. You can, of course, just grow them for your own fishing excursions. Also, consider the area where you live. If you live in a small area, there may not be enough market for a large worm farm to earn enough profit unless you sell over the internet or ship to other places. You want to make sure you don't invest too much too soon. If you live near a lake, you may do very well with your worm farm business. People do like convenience. Even avid fishermen can run out of bait or forget to buy it, although they may not like to readily admit it! There are plenty of people who prefer to use natural bait, too. Of course, this means customers will be knocking on your door on weekends and after normal work hours. So, you may do better to post your office away from your living area and make sure your hours are compatible, but not overwhelming for you. Post them plainly and large enough for those early rising fishermen/women to readily see them. Understanding the Anatomy of Worms Used in Worm Farming Worm farming is an excellent way to naturally compost waste without adding to the already full landfills. Vermicompost is produced as a result, providing a nutrient rich substance that greatly benefits gardens, crops and house plants. The worms kept in worm farms demand little to remain healthy, voracious eaters. Understanding the anatomy of these worms proves useful in understanding their needs. A worm's body is made up of 70-95 percent water. Worms therefore require a very moist environment that should be mimicked in the worm farm. When worms die, they often shrivel up and go unnoticed as the water content is lost at this point. These are cold blooded animals. Temperature should be maintained between 72 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit to assist the regulation of their body temperatures. Worm farms should be placed in a location that allows for this constant temperature, or bins that are insulated should be purchased. One focus of worm farming is to have worms that will reproduce easily. Worms are hermaphrodites, meaning they possess both male and female sex organs. Worm farmers must realize that although they are hermaphrodites, they cannot self-fertilize. A single worm cannot reproduce alone. A colony of many worms will result in larger numbers being produced. Worms used in worm farms are covered in a slimy mucus coating. This coating serves many purposes. The mucus helps the worms retain water. As their bodies are made up of a high percentage of water, an important step when worm farming is to be sure to provide adequate moisture levels in the bin. The worm will be able to hold in the required moisture level through this mucus coating. The worm's mucus coating is also a protector. As the worm borrows into soil and bedding, the mucus provides a slick coat protecting it from harmful substances that may reside there. The anatomy of the mouth of the worm is regarded as unique. In the worm, the mouth is called the Peristonium. Worms do not have teeth. Instead they have this mouth organ that is used for prying. Worm farmers should be aware that worms will be able to better compost food items that have been cut down into smaller pieces. Soaked paper and cardboard products will be more easily pried apart than hard, non-soaked pieces. Established worm farmers and those new to the hobby are often surprised to learn the life span of the worms that are commonly used in worm farming. The common lifespan of these worms is typically between 4 and 8 years. It has been reported that some worms have been known to live over 15 years. These are long lived creatures whose lives are most often cut short by accidents. The myth that worms can be cut in half and therefore produce two worms is false. Worm farmers should always be careful when searching for worms, replacing bedding or removing vermicompost. Sharp or hard tools are likely to injure a worm or even cause death. If provided a good diet, proper living conditions and a safe environment, worms can live long healthy lives. Healthy worms produce healthy compost that can be put to good use. Understanding the basics of the anatomy of these worms will aide in the understanding of how unique they are and how to address their needs. Feeding the Worms in a Worm Farm Naturally composting waste, providing an organic matter that enriches soil and even supplying hobbyists and fisherman with live bait. These are all reasons for worm farming. Taking care of the worms in a worm farm is typically quite easy but there some guidelines to follow. Proper feeding is important for the health of the worms, and therefore important for the health of the farm. Worms are fed a variety of food items, and nonfood items, for composting. Some food type items that can be offered are fruits, vegetables, greens, bread products, cereals, tea bags, coffee grounds and filters and egg shells. The worms will eat just about anything so it is imperative to know which foods are appropriate and why. Fruits and vegetables are easily composted by the worms. The important thing to remember when serving fruits and vegetables is the size of the portions. Fruit pieces should be cut down to 1/2 inch pieces or slices. Smaller pieces will be consumed more quickly. Food blended up with water will also help the worms find the food and consume it faster. Fruits and vegetables are highly nutritious. Worms that are fed an appropriate diet will in turn produce a nutrient rich substance that is beneficial to crops, gardens, flower beds and even indoor flower pots. Some nonfood items that can be offered to worms for composting are paper products, cotton rags, hair clippings, leaves and soaked cardboard. A pizza box that has been torn up and soaked is a wonderful treat for worms. When offering leaves to a worm farm, be careful to only use products that have never been treated with chemicals. For the safety of the worms, grass clipping and other yard clippings should be avoided incase chemicals have been used. Dog and cat droppings can be used in a worm farm with care. Cats and dogs that have been dewormed recently will still have the substance within their bodies. The medicine used for deworming can be excreted in the droppings. If fed to the worms, the droppings can kill the worms quickly. If a pet has been dewormed recently, avoid using the droppings in the worm farm. Care should also be taken when offering cat droppings from a litter box. Inorganic litters are unsafe for the worms. If your plan is to use the worms to compost the droppings, using a natural and organic litter will keep the worms happy. While there are many foods that can be offered readily, there are also those that should be avoided. Care should always be taken with items that have been treated with chemicals, medications or other substances that may prove harmful. Meats should not be offered to the worms in a worm farm. Being voracious eaters, the worms will gladly consume whatever meat is offered. The problem with meat is with the pests it will attract. Flies and maggots will be found in a worm farm that uses meat and the best way to eliminate these pests is to eliminate the use of meat. Citrus fruits, onions and garlic should not be used either. The worms appear to find the smell of these items offensive. Most worms will try to escape the bin to get away from the smell. Dairy products will also attract unwanted guests into the worm farm. Another problematic issue with serving dairy products is the foul smell that is emitted as it rots. Feeding worms is a pretty easy job. The key is to know which items are good and which are bad for the health of the worms. Another point to always remember is to not over feed. New worms should be fed in small amounts when they are becoming established within the farm. Once settled, the amount can be increased over time. Over feeding leads to problems such as foul smells and pests. Keep feeding down to a minimum, offering new food only when the old food supply is running low. Worms can eat over half their body weight in food per day. The worm population can double every few months. Overfeeding can cause a problem but keep an eye on the population as well to be sure that underfeeding isn't an issue. A well fed worm population is a happy worm population. Happy worms produce a lot of naturally composted, healthy castings for soil enrichment therefore keeping the worm farmer happy as well. Choosing the Right Worms for Worm Farming Worm farming is done for several reasons. Composting, the production of nutrient rich soil and providing live bait are three of the most common reasons for worm farming. Some worms do a better job at their duties than others so it is important to know how to choose the right worms for your worm farm. Composting is one common reason for worm farming. Worms are used to compost waste and discarded material naturally and without adding to the local landfills. To do this, the worms eat fruit and vegetable scraps, along with other compostable items such as paper products, leaves, cotton rags and egg shells. If composting is the primary reason for setting up a worm farm, choices should be made for the appropriate types of worms that are known as being the best for this option. The Red Wiggler, or Eisenia fetida, is reportedly the best worm for composting. These worms reproduce easily and are extremely hardy. The trait that makes them best as compost worms is their ravenous appetites. Because of their eagerness to devour anything edible, Red Wigglers produce a high quality substance resulting in a nutrient rich soil that is so desirable with worm farming. Perhaps raising worms for the purpose of providing live bait is the goal of a worm farm. Bait can be raised for personal use or even supplied to local fisherman through bait and tackle shops. The best worms for this purpose are the European Night Crawlers. These worms can be used for baiting fish in all types of conditions, even in saltwater. The European Nightcrawler is reported to be one of the hardiest fish available for worm farming. They can also be used as a live food source for other animals such as birds, reptiles, exotic pets and aquarium fish. They can be used in a composting type worm farm but work best as live food and bait. Night Crawlers are readily available and have similar care requirements as the Red Wigglers. Worms used for garden and lawn farming are typically available in sets of three different varieties of worms. The Red Wiggler and the Night Crawlers are often two of the types of worms in these sets. The third worm is usually Pheritema, or Florida Wiggler which are worms that burrow deep into the soil. Over 3000 varieties of worms exist. The worms mentioned here are the most commonly used and readily available on the market today. They can be found at various online distributors. Local worm farmers can be found through online directories or by looking up the topic in the local telephone book. Most types of worms are typically made available as adult worms, young worms and egg capsules. Typically sold by the pound, the number of worms per unit will vary depending on their age and size. Egg capsules yield a higher number of worms per unit once hatched. A worm farm will be most successful when the appropriate worm is chosen for the job at hand. While most worms will compost discarded items and waste and act as live bait, some have some small traits that make them the best choice for a worm farm with a particular purpose. Catalpa Worm Farming If you are from the southern portion of the United States, you may not know about catalpa worms, but chances are you've at least heard of them. Catalpa worms are not really worms, but they are lumped into the worm family anyway. Try telling the redneck fishermen these little buggers aren't worms! Catalpa worms are usually called "Catawba worms". Although it isn't likely you'll find many catalpa worm farms, this may be a very good reason you should start one of your own. It's a way to enlighten the public and provide something unique for consumers. Catalpa trees are the way to get Catalpa worms. So, a tree farm of catalpas is your first investment. Other things you may need to invest in are: sprinklers, wheelbarrows, shovels, rakes, containers, a business license, fertilizer for your tree crop, and advertising. Your catalpa trees are going to make quite a mess with litter, so you'll want to decide how to handle that as well. It's an idea to turn this litter into a profit. Toss it into your compost pile to help build up some valuable food for your trees. Sell it for seeds to others who may want to grow a tree. Use it to start campfires. One tree can provide a worm farmer with hundreds of worms. They're a hot commodity for southern fishermen. The fat worms draw catfish like crazy. Their juices are the enticement for the fish. They just can't seem to resist. The best way to use the worms is to break them, tear them, or cut them somehow to allow the juices to flow. Place them on your hook and put the hook as near to the bottom of your fishing hole as possible. This keeps the juices close to the bait instead of allowing it to float down and away, which causes the fish to also go down and away to chase after the juice instead of the bait! If you invest in a freezer, you can also freeze the worms to sell out of season. The caterpillar stage only lasts about three weeks. You can buy a starter tree from the Arbor Foundation for $9. If you're lucky enough to have a relative or friend who has a tree, you can try growing your own from the seed pods that hang from the limbs. Your best bet for starting the worms is to harvest eggs from a tree that is already established and attach them to your own tree. The caterpillars emerge in the spring, so you'll want to attach them in February or March. You could try ordering the catalpa sphinx moth yourself from an insect source of some kind. This is what the catalpa worm evolves into, so obviously it would lay the eggs to start more! The downside to catalpa worms is their ability to devour leaves. All species of the catalpa tree are subject and can be host trees. You'll have to guard against small wasps and parasites that can destroy your worms. Advertising Your Worm Farm Advertising can be the most expensive part of many small businesses. But without the proper advertisement, your business will struggle. Although word of mouth is and will continue to be one of the best sources of advertising for a worm farm or any business or service, you must consider other options as well. Air time for radio stations can be expensive, as can newspaper or magazine advertisements. You may be limited in how often you can invest in either one. Start-up costs can be demanding in any business. The sign for your worm farm business should be colorful, easy to read, informative, large enough to readily notice, and in the right place to be seen easily. Although a plain, small sign can still work, it is the bigger and more attractive one that will draw more interest. Think about it from the consumer viewpoint. If you saw a small, plain, black and white sign on one side of the street, and a big, colorful, sign on the other side of the street.......which one would be more likely to snag your interest? You want to be welcoming to the public with your advertisement. Another means of advertising your worm farm is flyers or bulletins. Many people will make up a huge stack of them and place them on every car they see until they run out. But you want to get the most out of every cent you invest in your advertising. So, before you run out and start shoving those flyers under windshield wipers, consider placement. Is the mom shopping with her two year old child in the toy store as likely to buy your fishing worms or your fertilizer as the person shopping in the hardware store or sports store? Grocery stores, Laundromats, your local Wal Mart, convenience stores, and even large construction businesses may be better places to distribute your flyers. You could ask store owners about posting your flyers in their windows. Try the local video stores, flower shops, and so on. You could consider holding a demonstration about the benefits of your worm farm at the local library. They have story times and guests visit during the summer months to entertain the children. These children have parents and grandparents who garden and fish and own reptiles or birds who might need worms. Be sure to hand out color pages or bookmarks or something similar with a small bit of information for your business, including your phone number. Magnetic signs that attach to the sides of vehicles have become more popular in advertising. There are thrift newspapers that have lower cost advertising. A booth at your local farmer's market or in the local flea market may help get your worm farm noticeable with the public. Make sure you check out your tax laws and your business license requirements for your area. Even if you have your worm farm at your house, you may be required to get a permit to sell your worms or the things you are able to produce because of your worms (like the tea, compost, fertilizers, etc.). A Different Kind of Worm Farm Worm farms are in effect in different states all over the United States. Because of the interest in recycling and the eco-system, these farms make sense. Landfills get less bagged waste, crops are improved, other animals are fed a natural food, and the worms provide natural bait for fishing. Worm farms can provide many things besides worms. Worm gifts, worm candy, worm flour, worm breads, worm cookies, books, dvds, cute worm songs on cds, worm-related toys, fertilizer teas, compost, potting soil, cupped fishing bait, and hands-on activities for youngsters are some ideas. Worm farming is technically known as vermiculture. It can be a lucrative business, but it is not a way to make a lot of money quickly. It takes patience, education, money, space, and marketing skills. You can't just toss a handful of worms in your yard and expect them to go to work and make you rich! If you want a different kind of worm farm, you first would want to research the other worm farms that are in the market. If you make your worm farm unique and fun, you'll draw families. Families spend money on souvenir type items and knick knacks as memoirs of their adventures. Kids like games. Maybe you could create some playground equipment for your little visitors with designs that are based on worms. Demonstrations can make your worm farm different. You can make your worm bins decorative as well to help maintain public interest. People like "eye candy". Things that are brightly colored and designed catch the eye. A person dressed in a worm suit to chat with the children would be a fun addition to make your worm farm different. A small worm farm museum would be interesting for school groups to visit, which would increase public interest and make your worm farm different. You might want to figure out how to have a worm festival on your worm farm. Provided you have enough room for parking and someone to direct traffic, this could provide advertisement and fun for you and for your visitors. Worm contests such as who can eat the most worm cookies or design the best worm poster, the most creative worm art made with playdoh, or races in worm shaped cars are some ideas. Educational benefits exist as well. Your worm farm can be used as a way to enlighten the public on how important the worm is to our natural environment. It can teach people about other worms besides the earthworm and the worms that cause harm. If you want a different kind of worm farm, it takes a good imagination and some ingenuity. Creating interest and a public need is a good way to succeed. It also means you'll have to stay "on-your-toes" to maintain that interest. Of course, it means more of an investment, too. But in the business world, it takes money to make money. You just have to "worm" your way into the public eye and get noticed! Odds and Ends to Note About Worm Farming For the beginner, worm farming can either seem like a simple adventure or something totally foreign to them. Some people have never been brave enough to hold a worm, not to mention making a whole farm of them! So, let's explore some interesting odds and ends about worm farming. Compost worms and earthworms are not the same. Earthworms loosen the soil. Compost worms eat the mulch layer of soil. Grub worms are not really worms at all. They're larvae from the June bugs that are pests to people in the southern parts of the United States. Catalpa worms are not really worms either. They're caterpillars from a moth species that are known to infest the Catalpa tree. Red worms are popular as fishing bait. Tomato horn worms sound like little monsters, but they're actually edible worms. Witchetty grub worms are served in restaurants as barbecued appetizers in Australia. Palm grubs are prepared by frying in hot pepper and salt. (Kinda makes you want to ask what the new dish is before you eat in a strange place, huh?) If you soak an earthworm overnight, it will purge the soil from them. Odds are that the end result of many dishes served in other countries could be quite tasty. But most worm farming in America is done for other purposes. New word of the day is vermicomposting! It sounds really smart and sophisticated, but it only means composting with worms. Worms are great little workers for your compost bin and can enrich the end result. This means you have better luck with that green thumb you've been trying so hard to encourage! You can build a worm bin out of wood, plastic, concrete, an old bucket, or an old bathtub. If you really want an odd bin, create one out of an old toilet! You just knew you were saving it for something, didn't you? The only problem with having strange bins is that you need to create a drain. You can't let your worm dirt get too soggy. They rise to the top of the ground after a rain for a reason, you know. Drainage creates another benefit of your worm farm called worm tea. No, you don't drink it. That would be far too odd and might end with a sick stomach. You don't serve it to your worms either. Although it does create a cute picture to imagine them sitting at a tiny table, holding their tiny little tea cups and wearing tiny little straw floppy hats! Did you know you can feed your worms vacuum cleaner dust? Although you may want to ensure that you didn't just fog the house for bugs before you vacuumed. Worm farming can be as expensive or as low-cost as you choose to make it. How much does it cost to start a worm farm? Well, that's up to you. How fancy you think you need it? How large do you want to make it? What type of worms do you want to start with? How much space will you have for new growth? How much money do you have available for the adventure? What type of advertising do you want to do if it is a business venture? Whatever your choices are, odds are that you'll end up learning something valuable! The History of Worms and Worm Farming When many of us think of worms, we think of the few pink earthworms that hang out in the garden, strolling through the soil and showing their faces after a heavy rain. We don't often stop to think about the history involved in these legless creatures. Some people even put these guys to work for profit and natural soil care through a process known as worm farming. So how long have worms really been around? To take a look at the history of worm farming, we have to go way back before the age of man. Worms have been around almost since the beginning of time. Even in the age of the dinosaurs, earthworms worked hard breaking down excrement and waste. Their job was to produce a substance more useful to the soil. In turn, the level of fertility of the soil would remain high promoting a better rate of growth. From 51 and 30 B.C., the Queen of Egypt, Cleopatra VII realized the importance the worms played in the fertilization of the Nile. The export of worms from Egypt was then banned and became a crime punishable by death. For this reason, the Nile has been reported to contain the most fertile soil in the world even today. Many years later, Charles Darwin published "The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Actions of Worms with Observations on their Habits" in 1881. He mentions here that the plough was one of the best inventions made by man. It changed the lives of farmers everywhere. The worm however, has been doing the same job long before man although later they were once regarded as a pest. It was thought that worms destroyed plant life, chewing through the roots of crops. In reality, the worms plough through the Earth carrying water and air beneath the soil aerating and fertilizing it. Darwin continued to study earthworms, their habits and their benefits to man for over forty years. He even went so far as to label these crawlers as one of the most important creatures on earth. During the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s chemistry was discovered and Darwin's studies were cast aside. Worm farming as a natural method for ploughing was ignored. Instead, man-made products were used for the job for a quicker more efficient way of producing a larger yield of growth. Chemists produced fertilizers that increased the growth of crops. These fertilizers also damaged the soil, requiring even more fertilizers to continue to produce this increased growth yield. Other chemicals such as pest sprays and poisons have caused the decrease in the population of earthworms in the soil, thereby causing a fall in the fertility of the soil. Because of the availability and ease of use, fertilizers and pesticides have been primarily used in crops across the world. However, some farmers began to culture their own worms on a smaller scale. Worm farming, or vermiculture, is the use of earthworms to aerate soil and change organic matter into compost. It only became a commercial process in the 1970s. Worm farmers experience fluctuations in production and revenue depending on market requirements and demand. While commercial worm farmers still exist and function efficiently, many individuals have begun to establish their own methods of farming worms. This has been made easier through readily available worm farming supplies and equipment to encourage a more natural way of producing well fertilized soil and for composting waste. The views about worms and how they effect the environment have changed dramatically over the years. Whether they're held sacred or regarded as nasty slimy critters, worms have proved to be hardy and beneficial enough to last this long; they're probably going to hang around for many years to come.
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