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Feeding and Care Instructions for Red worms

Three things need to be considered when working with worms. Food, water and air are important to maintain healthy and happy worms. These instructions will start you on your way to being a vermiculturist.

Feeding Your Worms

Food for worms is anything organic and soft. What is soft you may ask? Soft is considered wet and enzyme or bacteria starting to break down the cellular structure. You don't need to worry yourself about starting the softening process, worms produce their own enzymes for this process. Leftovers are a good source for feeding worms. Leftovers are clean (no harmful bacteria), normally wet, no insect problems, and have good nutritional value. Caution should be taken when feeding meats and dairy products. Harmful bacteria always survive cooking and pasteurizing. Use care, do not allow these products to remain in bins for more than 4 days. Having cautioned about the use of meats and dairy, don't simply avoid, good protein is available for your worms in these. Lawn and garden waste are another good source of food for worms. Grass and Leaves are the normal diet of worms. Feeding is as simple as making a trough or hole in you bedding, putting the same weight of wet food as worms, and covering. Rotate where you feed and if you find most of the food remaining when you feed in one spot, do not feed for 5 days. As shown in graphic, p lacing feed in these spots will keep all worms happy and well fed. Adult worms will keep to the outside of the bin, jouviniles will make their home in the center. Smaller feeds should be in the center, and larger feeds can go on theoutside.

Bin Basics

Your bin should have holes in the bottom to allow for drainage and holes in the lid to allow for air flow. Feet on the bottom of your bin keep worms from escaping and allow some air to reach the bottom of your bin. Bins made of wood will soon be eaten. Ruber bins last for many years, are light and easy to clean. Steel bins are for larger numbers of worms and must be treated to keep rust from ruining your bin.

Starting A Worm Bin

Starting a worm bin can be as simple as adding water to paper or as difficult as creating synthetic bedding and synthetic manure. Your kit will contain one of the following beddings, Shredded paper, coir, or peat moss. Each have benefits and draw backs. Peat moss and coir are easy to work wi th and hold water better however contain little nutritional value. Paper is more difficult to use yet contains plenty of nutrients for your worms and is free for anyone with a mailbox. Add a hand full of dirt/soil and soak your bedding with water for 24 hours before placing in your bin. This allows for the bedding to be nice and wet for your worms. Transfer to your bin putting a small amount of worm food near the bottom for your worms to enjoy. Once in your worm bin some water may drain from the bedding, a simple piece of dry cardboard at the bottom will keep some of the water in your bin. Add worms to the top and close lid.

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F er t i l i z er

Feeding and Care Instructions for Red worms

Sorting Castings From Worms

Two different styles of sorting are quite popular with worm farmers. Screening and scraping. Screening is done with a shaker box, screen machine or expensive separator machine. Quite simply a ¼ inch screen is used to separate large worms from vermicompost. Anything less than ¼ inch falls through the screen as it is shaken or rotated (depending on type of separator you use) while the worms and large food or bedding remain behind. Shaker boxes are sometimes difficult to use, heavy and dirty yet inexpensive. Hanging a shaker box from the ceiling or a pole make the job easier, however dumping the food and worms back into your bin can be a challenge. Screening machines make this much easier. The same ¼ inch screen is used, except it is in a circle. The screen rotates allowing the vermicompost to drop straight down and the worms and large food "spin" to the other side of the screen. Easy and efficient, but costly. A screen of ¼ inch will separate vermicompost, a 1/8 inch screen w ill separate worm castings and eggs. Scraping is the easiest and cheapest way to separate worms and castings. First you must allow you worms to eat everything down to castings size. Do not feed for 2 weeks, do not add any paper. Once most of the food and paper are eaten, fill a bucket with worms and castings. Dump this bucket full onto an old table and turn on a light above the pile of castings and worms. 1 hour later scrape the outside of your pile into that same bucket until you several wo rms. Wait another hour and repeat process until all that is left are a lot of worms. Place worms into new bedding and start over.

Definitions

Bed: Any in ground area used for worm or casting production. Bedding: What worms live in that does not have a lot of nutrients and is ph neutral. Bin: Any above ground container used to house worms Casting: The end result of worms eating (worm poop, worm manure etc.) Eisenia Foetida: A species of worm called "redworm", "Red Wiggler", "Manure Worm", "Composting Redworm" among others. Grows as long as 4 inches and as much as ¼ inch in width. Squirm: More than 3 worms Synthetic Bedding: Bedding made from various sources like ground up rice hulls an d ground coconut husks. Synthetic Manure: Worm food made by using oat flour, corn four and wheat flour. These are processed with enzymes and antibiotics. Vermicompost: Close to worm castings, however still contains a large amount of un-eaten organic matter Vermiculture: The act of raising worms

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