The Cultivation of Earthworms



"The common earthworm is probably the most popular and successful natural live bait for fishing in inland waters"
Article by: Charles Barnham

The common earthworm is probably the most popular and successful natural live bait for fishing in inland waters. While worms can be purchased from many bait suppliers, growing your own can not only add one more facet to personal recreational fishing activity, it can also ensure a constant as-needed supply a valuable bait.

A small worm farm may be established in a variety containers, including large tubs, steel drums cut lengthwise or even disused concrete wash troughs. Worms can be directly farmed in a part the garden, but reliability stock is not as certain as a supply cultivated in a container. A compost heap can also be used where the worms will have the added bonus assisting conversion waste product to rich garden fertilizer or soil.

Adequate drainage is important when using containers for worm farming. If metal containers are used the bottom and sides should be well perforated with small holes which will allow excess water to drain away, but the holes should not be so large as to allow worms to crawl through. One way preventing worms escaping through drainage holes is to cover the outlets with scrap patches screen wire.

Minimum recommended depth is 50 centimeters/20 inches. The containers should be located in a relatively cool, shaded area where the temperature normally would not exceed 20C/68F.

Each container should be filled with loose, non-sandy soil into which has been mixed one cup animal lard and 3 cups corn meal for every 30 liters soil (1 cubic foot). An alternative food is 3 cups homogenized dog food.

Sprinkle the containers with water until the soil is moist but not drowned out.

Put about 50 adult worms per square foot surface area onto the soil. They will almost immediately burrow into the container.

Check the containers once a week for moisture, more frequently in warmer weather, but do not over-water. If the soil becomes too dry, the worms will move toward the bottom the container; if it is too wet, the worms will be on the surface.

The surface the container should be covered with two or three thickness hessian to retain moisture.

Every three weeks to a month remove the top 7 to 10 centimeters/2.5 to 4 inches soil and mix in half a cup the food mixture you used in the beginning. Dump the remaining soil out the container and put the soil, to which has been added the food, in the bottom the container.

Feeding at the rate 500 grams/17.5 ounces food per 28 liters/10 gallons soil (1 cubic foot) is usually adequate. Put back into the container the rest the soil.

When going through this feeding routine be sure to observe the condition the bottom soil. If it is muddy or moldy you are either over-watering or over-feeding, and you must adjust your watering or feeding accordingly - a reduction one-third is usually sufficient.

If you follow this routine, your "farm" should produce a new crop worms in 6 to 8 weeks which will be large enough for bait in about 12 weeks. Fifty liters soil can produce up to 1,000 adult worms plus a new upcoming colony baby worms.

If mice or rats raid the worm bed, it can be covered with a screen. Ants also eat worms. If your worm farm container is on legs, stand these in cans oil. If your worm farm sits directly on the ground, dust the surface around the container with pyrethrum. Mites (greyish-white animals the size the head a pin) are often troublesome. These may be controlled by very lightly dusting the top the soil with sulfur.

Earthworms will live longer on the hook and will take more fish if well "scoured". This toughening process is accomplished by placing the worms in earthenware containers or wooden boxes containing damp moss, for one or two days before they are to be used.

SOME EARTHWORM FACTS

There are approximately 2,700 different kinds earthworms. In just one acre there can be over a million earthworms Many the earthworms we can find in North America are descendents from those which came from Europe.

Baby worms are not born, but hatch from cocoons smaller than a grain rice.

The Australian Gippsland Earthworm grows to 12 feet long and can weigh 1 pounds.

The largest earthworm ever found was in South Africa and measured 22 feet from its nose to the tip it's tail.

Provided courtesy Department Natural Resources and Environment in Victoria, Australia, Copyright © 1999