Most of us old coots remember a TV program called WKRP in Cincinnati featuring the impressive chest expansion of Loni Anderson and a rag-tag bunch of comedians. But the program also ran a spoof on commercials with a jingle, which went "Red Wigglers - the Cadillac of worms". They played that jingle at least once in every show. More recently, Chuck and his friends on the TFF panfish forum have been referring to the worm as the "bait of champions" because of the use of the worm by the San Antonio group of record holders. Whatever you call them the worm, particularly the Eisenia fetida or Red Wiggler, is the bait of choice for many species of Sunfish.
Raising the Red Wiggler is not particularly difficult, but it does require attention to detail and fairly constant care.
First you need a place to raise your worms. I have a full basement, which provides a constant temperature environment in a dark place away from fire ants and other predators. My father kept a worm bed for many years in an old garden shed in his backyard. Any place out of the sun and raised to keep out ants is probably OK. The worms will die if the temperature gets below about 40 degrees.
Next, select your container. A wooden container such as half a whisky barrel is ideal. A #2 galvanized washtub was my father's container of choice. Most nowadays use a plastic container. Walmart sells a gray plastic storage container with lid for $4.95 that is ideal for a worm habitat. That is what I use. The container must have a cover. Indoors a burlap bag is perfect to cover the bed and retain moisture. Outdoors, use a solid lid. With a solid lid the bin must be ventilated to allow the worms to breathe.
Fill the container with about 4 inches of sandy soil. Then add about 6 inches of bedding. Bedding can be shredded paper, shredded leaves. peat moss or a commercial bedding mixture available on the Internet. Wet the bedding until it is moist, not wet, and let it stand for a few days before adding worms. Adjust the moisture until the bedding is as wet as a wrung out sponge. Then soak your burlap bag until it is saturated. Wring it out thoroughly and place it over the bedding.
Breeder worms are available from many growers on the Internet. A good quantity to start is 300-1000 worms. Be warned that most growers seem to cheat. A package advertised to contain 1000 worms may have 300 if you are lucky. My first order had maybe 50 worms. When I contacted the grower he sent me another batch which had a few more. Be sure to order the genuine Eisenia fetida (or Foetida) also known as redworm, tiger worm and red wiggler. Unpack the worms as soon as they arrive and place them under the burlap on top of the bedding. They will burrow into the bedding at once.
Feed your worms with food scraps such as fruit and vegetable peels, pulverized eggshells, tea bags and coffee grounds. Sprinkle a cup of corn meal on top of the bedding. Place any food under the burlap. Avoid excessive food to keep from having smells or killing your worms.
It is necessary to keep the moisture content correct and to add bedding as the worms use it up.
For more information read the following web pages.
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