Red Wiggler Bins and Eggs

What a busy fall it’s been – I have certainly overextended myself, once again, and am taxing my time management skills! But despite my deepest wish for more hours in a day, my worms are a priority that never gets put on the back burner. Last weekend, given the beautiful weather, I decided it was time to move them to a bigger home, a nice blue plastic, tub, as they are populating in leaps and bounds. So I moved my yarn into a box and used the plastic bin for the new worm home. First I had to drill holes into the side and bottom with a 1/4 iIMG_0626nch bit that I borrowed (did he have a choice?) from my husband and got to work drilling holes about every two inches around the top and about thirty holes on the bottom. Worms need oxygen, so it’s important that you have good air flow in their home. Some friends have asked if they ever escape through the holes, but that has not been my experience. They will try to escape if their environment is too dry, too wet, or without food. Other than that, they like to stay home. If they do try to escape, they will soon dry up on the flooring so you can throw them out for birds as it’s a great source of protein.

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Here is my jar of crushed egg shells. I use a mortar and pestle to crush them while I’m watching TV. It seems to do well, but a coffee grinder would be better.

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This pic was taken after I scattered mineral dust and egg shells. Afterward, I hand tossed it all to mix thoroughly.

To prepare the bin for the worms, I filled the bottom about one third of the way up with moist torn newspaper and scrap mail, and lots of moist fallen leaves. I added about two cups of scattered dirt, and eight cups of scattered moist peat moss, 1/4 cup of crushed egg shells, and two tablespoons of mineral dust. There are many YouTube videos on setting up a worm bin, some better than others. What those videos don’t tell you is how quick the worms can eat their way through all the paper, leaves, and peat moss, and what you should do to replace it. What are the signs to look for?  Once you have a healthy population of worms, I have found that within a month those little wigglers will need more of everything!  Not so much in the winter months; it might take two months before you’re ready to harvest castings, depending on how cool you keep your house.

So, as I was separating my worms from the castings, I was so pleased to find dozens and dozens of worm eggs. I haven’t shown pictures of them yet, so I thought I would put them up for you to see. First, you need to know that when a worm first sheds its gland to make that initial cocoon (see my other post on how worm babies are made), it will turn into a yellow colored egg (it’s almost transparent), then over time, it will turn a dark red color (the second pic shows two red eggs of different sizes):

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IMG_0639 more mature eggs

Seriously, isn’t that amazing? The really amazing thing is that an egg will typically bear two to four teeny worms and sometimes even more! So you can see the difference in the color of the eggs!  I was so happy to have found the yellow one, it’s not easy to do in a bin of dark castings.

 

 

I haven’t seen any worms actually being born, except online, but I did find some tiny worms while I was collecting casting and moving them to their new home. Here are a few pics to show you some size differences between more mature and toddler worms:

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If you look at my index finger, there is a tiny stick like shape, but that’s actually a baby worm! The triangular shape on my palm is a larger worm with a smaller one on the top left hand side. I’m afraid the castings make it difficult to see, but I was hoping you could get a sense of the sizes. I had to be very careful to put the tiny worm back in the bin without damaging it!

I was able to harvest about twenty pounds of castings which has been added to soil for winter gardening. I have a grow light in my home and will be starting lettuce soon as well as lots of microgreens. Yum!

I hope you enjoyed this post and it was informative for you. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments. Until next time, my best to you!  🙂

About Vicki_Life_On_A_Farm

After twenty years of serving as a college administrator, I have taken the bold step of early retirement! Now I get to spend my time with amazing people, who share my passion for gardening, sustainability, and creativity. Who knew life after retirement would be so busy and fun!
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