I have a balcony garden and would like to 'grow' earthworms. Does anyone have any tips?
Mavis from Johannesburg, South Africa
I think the only kind of earthworms that will grow in a tub which is what you must be thinking of, for composting, or for feeding to fish or a turtle or something, are the red wiggler earthworms. Here in North America, these are purchased from bait or science supply places. They do not survive a cold winter such as we have in Canada. Now, of course, some place these are the native earthworm, and the worms that you have in South Africa may thrive. You will have to do some research on that.
Worms can be raised in a rubbermaid or similar tub. You need some ventalation holes in the side and top. Do not put any in the bottom, as you may get leakage of brown, tea colored decomposing "juice". It is likely wonderful stuff for your houseplants, but yucky on the floor. You can start them off with shredded newspaper and food scraps -- soft fruits are best -- apples, bananas, -- the peels , cores, etc. Stuff like carrots and orange peels take a long time for the worms to eat, and you can use them, but to start be sure you have some of the worms favorite stuff. They also eat the paper. The paper should be moist, and
I like to toss in about a litre of garden soil, just to get things going. The worms will thrive in this "home". You don't want it to get too moist, as then it is unpleasant to deal with. Ideally you want the environment to resemble garden soil when the worms are working the best. This takes awhile-- several weeks. If your tub seems to be too soggy, add more shredded paper. If the tub is stinky, your worms are not keeping up with food that you are composting. If you get fruit flies, then you are not covering up the food well enough with the dirt and newspaper.
It is not difficult to get these guys to grow and compost your food scraps. There is likely more info on the net that you can find by googling for it. I kept worms at school for many years to dispose of the food scraps left by the children. We fed the worms to our pet turtle and to the pet newt. We used the composted worm dirt with potting soil to grow plants. Good luck.
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