Raising worms at home is a rewarding experience! Not to mention, it is also eco-friendly. This is a great way to dispose of your organic scraps, such as kitchen waste. Plus, you will be making organic fertilizer. Through composting, you can use worm castings to improve soil conditions and raise healthier plants. Aside from composting, it is also a great option for natural bait. So, if you love fishing, these wigglers are great additions to your home!
For many people, raising worms is challenging work. Especially if you are doing it for the first time, there are a couple of things you need to consider. Among others, one thing that highly influences success is your choice of worms. While there are several options, in this short guide, our focus is on Canadian nightcrawlers. They are from the same family as European and African nightcrawlers, which are notable options for composting.
A word of warning – while they are used by some people for composting, there are also people who would rather avoid them. They dig deep, unlike others that stay on the top part of the soil. This means that feeding them can be difficult. With enough effort and patience, however, you can use these worms for composting.
Lumbricus Terrestris or Canadian nightcrawlers are also called the granddaddy of earthworms, which is a reference to their size compared to other worms. As the name implies, they are from Canada. They are often shipped in the United States in frozen form.
On average, the length of these worms will range from five to eight inches. They are larger than other earthworms. This also means that they are easier to hook if you will use them as fishing bait. In the compost, on the other hand, the size of their body allows them to excrete more waste, which is what you will use as a fertilizer.
These worms share common characteristics with the other nightcrawlers. The body is red to gray. If you look closely, you will find ring-shaped segments, which are also called annuli. These are covered by tiny bristles, which are hardly noticeable unless you examine the worm nearer. These bristles are used for moving on the ground and burrowing deep into the soil.
Like other worms, proper feeding is important to grow healthy Canadian nightcrawlers. Be picky with the scraps that you feed these worms. Not all organic wastes are good for them. Some can do more harm than good, so pay attention to what gets in the bin.
When you are feeding Canadian nightcrawlers, scatter their food on the top of the soil. They will benefit from eating a lot of greens, including leaves and grass clippings. Fruits, vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, and other organic scraps will also make good food.
While it is good if you can feed them with organic scraps, take note that these worms are decomposers. Meaning, they will feed on the bacteria present in the soil. With this, it is crucial that you replace the soil when needed.
Watch out for some of the foods that you should not put in the bin. For instance, it is not advisable that you add meat. You should also not add anything that is spicy or acidic. Aside from choosing the right food, be mindful of how much you feed them. Avoid overfeeding. You should also not crowd the bin with too much food as it provides lesser room for the worms to move.
Canadian nightcrawlers are known for their slow reproduction rate. This is also one of the reasons why it isn’t a good choice for composting. It is best to pack a lot of patience since it will take several months before the worms will multiply. When you buy these earthworms, it is best to settle with those that are already mature enough, so you won’t have to waste time waiting for them to grow fully.
Another important requirement when growing Canadian nightcrawlers is breeding. This is the starting point and will have a huge impact on success. Below, we’ll talk about some of the things you need to do.
- Pick a container. If you are a beginner, we recommend that you grow worms in a plastic bucket that can easily fit in in the fridge. They are temperature-sensitive, so it is important that you grow them in the fridge to maintain the right growing conditions and prevent the worms from dying.
- Next, set up the bedding. As deep burrowers, you will need thick bedding, making sure that there is enough room for the wigglers to move. Start by having sand and gravel at the bottom, which will help improve drainage. Next, add potting soil, peat moss, and similar materials. It is best to keep the bedding anywhere from six to eight inches
- Add a thermometer to the container. Find one that is small enough so that you can close the lid without any problem.
- Once everything is ready, add the worms to the container, cover, and put in the fridge. The temperature should be below 65 degrees Fahrenheit to maintain an ideal environment for the health of the nightcrawlers.
- Check the bin every two to three days. Remove old food from the top as this can rot and leave an unwanted smell.
Aside from those mentioned above, below are other things that you should do to successfully raise Canadian nightcrawlers at home:
- Maintain the right temperature. As earlier mentioned, you will benefit from having a thermometer in the container. This makes sure of the ideal environment for maintaining the health of the nightcrawlers. They hate warm temperatures and will die when at more than 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Pay attention to proper drainage. Use materials that can create well-draining bedding. When the soil does not drain properly, it will become a breeding ground for bacteria. Not to mention, it will have an unwanted smell.
- Using a limestone sprinkler is also helpful to raise the Canadian nightcrawlers in an ideal environment. This will help in adjusting the acidity of the soil, making it more suitable for the worm’s requirements.
- Turn the bedding after a few weeks. The regular rotation is needed for aeration. This will allow oxygen to reach the deepest part of the bin.
- When raising Canadian nightcrawlers, one of the most important is to maintain the right temperature. If you need to change the temperature, however, you should do it gradually. Otherwise, the worms are unable to keep up with the changes, resulting in potential death.
Got questions about Canadian nightcrawlers? Below, we’ll answer some of them before concluding this article.
When should I harvest Canadian nightcrawlers?
This depends on their physical condition. On average, it will take three to six months before you can harvest these earthworms. As earlier mentioned, they grow slowly, so you will need to be a bit patient.
How do I harvest Canadian nightcrawlers?
Once the worms are ready to harvest, get your hands dirty! Well, not quite literally! We recommend using gloves for hygienic purposes! Slowly dig through the bedding. Avoid applying too much pressure as you risk crushing the worms. Remove worms individually, especially those that are large enough if you plan to use them as bait on your next fishing trip. Keep them in a cool place until ready to be used. Otherwise, they might die.
What size of container do I need?
The size of the container depends on the number of worms you intend to grow. Take note that Canadian nightcrawlers are larger than most earthworms, so it is best if you have a big and deep container. Otherwise, they will cramp and eventually die. As a general rule, the container should be at least three feet wide for every two pounds of worms.
How long can you keep Canadian nightcrawlers?
This will depend on a number of factors, such as their health condition and how you take care of them, when you buy the worms, most manufacturers will indicate the shelf life. In most cases, they will last up to eight months. Make sure that they are in a cold environment to survive.
In sum, Canadian nightcrawlers are popular earthworms like African and European nightcrawlers. However, while some people decide to use it for composting, this is not the best option. The slow reproduction rate is one of the reasons why it can be difficult to use it in a worm bin. Plus, it has demanding needs, especially when it comes to the ideal temperature of its environment. You need to pack a lot of patience if you decide to use it for composting. It is more popularly used as fishing bait. It is large, so it can be broken into several pieces, making it an economical option for fishing. Plus, it stays alive even after a few minutes of being under the water. This makes it easier to attract fish.