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Alabama jumper worm identification guide

Saturday, March 8th, 2014

Alabama Jumpers

aj-alabama-jumpers-detailAlabama Jumpers are great worms that are hard to grow commercially, but do really well in the garden.

This post is part of a series on worm identification. Click here to see first page.

Alabama Jumper worms  can be monsters in size.  They commonly reach 6-9 inches long and about 1/4 inch in diameter. They are the muscular looking worms that can jump fairly aggressively. They have slightly metallic sheen which makes them easy to spot. They can be found in many parts of the US. Specifically zone 7 and warmer. They can survive cold conditions by burrowing very deep into the ground.

You can look for these worms in old leaf piles. Also you can attract them by placing wet cardboard on the ground. With any luck after a week or so you should be able to find a dozen or so underneath.

The anterior section tapers to a point giving them a pointed shape. I think this is also what makes them so adept to burrowing through very hard packed clay soils. This is one reason they are so great for gardens. They make tiny caves throughout the ground which enables water, air and nutrients to penetrate to plants roots. They also help soils to drain. They carry their castings deep underground and build canals that transport air, water, and nutrients deep underground helping plants grow.

They are difficult to grow in commercial quantities, but are frequently collected by professional worm “pickers” and resold. They are not quite as tolerant to shipping as red wigglers and european nightcrawlers. They make a good fishing worm, but are very costly due to the difficulties in growing and shipping them.

Will my worms over populate?

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

I am commonly asked if worms can over populate the worm bin. Worms multiply quickly, but they will not overpopulate. Worms can double in population every 90 days or so, but once a certain amount of worms inhabit an area the reproduction slows.

The worms seem to reach this equilibrium at about 2 pounds of worms per square foot of surface area. In actuality it highly depends upon how heavily they are fed and the aeration of the bin. The more worms you have though the quicker your compost will … compost.

Worm Composting Video of Tomatoes and Cucumber Salad

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Worm Castings Video

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Video by http://www.youtube.com/user/Praxxus55712

Red Worm Shipping and Packing Video

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Red Worm Feeding Frenzy, How To Compost Quickly Using Red Worms

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Red worms are well know for their ability to consume vast amounts of food in a short time and multiply like mad as well. Often time however our worms will fail to meet this potential due to not a failure on their part but due to a lack proper conditions for them to get worked up into this feeding frenzy. When things are just perfect though, you can literally see the food disappearing in a matter of hours. This will work best in well established worm beds that have plenty of worms in them. There should be at least 1 pound of worms per square foot for this to work right.

It takes a few days to get a properly maintained worm bed to this point of boiling over with worm activity. First thing is to have the bedding material loose so that the worms can freely move through the bedding. Second is that the moisture level needs to be right. To check the moisture level, grab a handful of the bedding substrate and give it a squeeze. If no water drops are produced then it is way to dry. On the other hand if more than 4-5 drops of water are squeezed out then it is way to wet. Ideally 2-3 drops of water should come out of the bedding for best composting speed.

Worms must have plenty of easily digestible food to eat in order to get worked up onto a composting frenzy. All your normal compostables will work, but in order to get thing really moving fast you can mash or chop them up into smaller sizes, but this is not necessary and the worms will work on them either way. The food needs to be near the top of the bed as that is where the worms prefer to feed. It is provably best to feed in strips rather that feed the whole top. That way if the feed starts to heat up the worms will have a place they can escape to.

Check the worms every couple of days. As long as they have food and the moisture level is right they should really start to work on the food. Feed them just beside of the previous feeding moving the strip of feed just a little each time. The worms will follow the food scraps. If they run out of food then they will disperse through the bedding and it will take a few days to get them started eating like crazy again. This is not necessarily a bad thing though and every once in a while the bedding should be allowed to go without food for a few days so that any missed food will get consumed. Follow this and you will have loads of worms casting and no food scraps to throw out!

Thanks for reading,
Matthew Wilson
Worms Etc

Red Wiggler Worms and Water

Monday, July 25th, 2011

I always thought that red wigglers would drown if the substrate or bedding was really wet, but I have found that this is not necessarily the case. Although they certainly can drown in too much moisture the level of water which they can handle is very high. While checking on my beds I found a certain spot that the sprinklers were watering much more than the rest of the beds and when I checked to see if how the worms were in this spot they were just hundreds of them bunched up. They were also some of the largest worms I had seen. This spot was so wet that the substrate was almost like pudding or a very wet mud. The thing is that they don’t lay may eggs when it is this wet and that it is impossible to harvest them from such wet bedding.

The thing here I guess is to know that if you want some really big wigglers for fishing, don’t be afraid to wet them down. Just be sure that you have good drainage, because the standing water can cause problems.

Can-O-Worms Composter System Review and Instructions

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011
can o worms composter

can o worms

The Can-O-Worms composting system is a well made stack-able tray worm composter. It is made out of sturdy thick black plastic and all the pieces fit together well. It comes with a very complete and informative set of instructions. Can O Worms Instructions The lid is extremely tight fitting and worms are very unlikely to escape. The Base is well designed and includes a tap to drain off any excess liquids.

The manufacturer did a great job thinking the system out. They included everything you need to vermicompost with the Can-O-Worms except the worms. They send you knowledge, bedding, the bin and even thought to have the packaging double as a temporary cover for the tray holes on the first level.

As I have often stated, worms do not need a mansion to live in, however if you are serious about vermicomposting and want a high quality composter system for your worms to produce lots of high quality vermicompost, then this is the system for you.

Buy your Can-O-Worms composter here

Hoop House Style Greenhouse Construction Basics; Building a Wiggler Worm Barn

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011
hoop style greenhouse

Hoop House

After trying a lot of different housing options for the worms, I decided that the best option in my case is to use hoop style greenhouse buildings. Hoop houses, as they are often called, are semi-circular buildings made from curved semi-circle rafters and are usually covered by clear poly-ethylene film. Not only are these buildings strong, but they are also inexpensive compared to other structures; furthermore, the hoop house can be covered in poly during the winter and then covered with shade cloth for summer use.

The main structural components of the building are the rafters, also called hoops. These can be made of wood, steel, or even pvc pipe. I recommend the use of steel pipe covered in a rust proof coating. EMT conduit is widely available and relatively inexpensive. It is used to route electrical wires in buildings and can be purchased at electrical supply houses and at many well known home improvement stores. The other main structural components are the purlins. Purlins run the length of the hoop house and tie the rafters together. They are commonly between 1 and 5 purlins in a hoop house, but I would recommend at least 3. Purlins not only add extra rigidity to the building, but can be used as anchors for lights, fans, sprinklers, or hanging plants and other items on. The size and spacing of the purlins and rafters is going to depend largely upon the size of the building and the expected snow load. Also if you do intend to hang plants or other items off of the purlins to make sure they are plenty strong for that as well.

An average rafter spacing for commercially available hoop greenhouse is about 6′. I personally believe this to be to far apart and like to space the rafters no further than 4′ apart. Although this may add a little cost to the building, but I can sleep sound at night during heavy snow and freezing rain knowing that my greenhouse is plenty strong.

The hoop house is anchored to the ground using ground post. The ground post are simply pipes that are driven into the ground that the rafters will attach to. EMT conduit may be used for these as well. In my location the pipes were driven about 3′ deep, but the required depth will depend upon your soil.

This covers the basics of hoop houses, but soon I will be posting the details of an actual hoop house construction that is sure to keep some wiggler worms happy. Also I am looking forward to having a place to grow plants in the winter and having a good building for researching potting soils made with worm castings.

Thanks for reading,
Matthew Wilson

Are these red wriggler worms in my mailbox?

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

So I received a phone call the other day and the voice on the other end says, “Hello, my name is [John Doe] and I received a box in the mail, which I wasn’t expecting, but even more surprisingly the box promised, ‘Live Worms Inside.’ Curiously I opened the box to see if this could possibly be true. Upon opening the box I found a white bag, which I now presume to wriggler worms, and an information sheet with your phone number. Upon seeing this phone number, I called you to ask, why have I this box of worms?”

So I answered him by asking for the order number and proceeded to look up the info. I explained to him that the order was paid for by Mr. So-and-so, but he did not remember the name I gave him, so I gave him the billing phone number. After that I he said, “OK thanks,” and that was the end of the conversation.

About a half-hour later he called back. He explained, “OK I remember the fellow who sent me the worms now, he was a friend of my sons and he had come over and ate supper here one evening and sent the worms as a thank you gift for the hospitality. He saw my compost pile and knew that I liked gardening and composting so he saw the worms for sale on the internet and had them sent to me.” Well the mysterious box of worms was now explained and the fellow used them in his compost pile.

Interestingly enough I have had this happen one other time when an individual bought some worms for his neighbor. So I guess if you are wanting to get someone a gift they will never forget, just get’ em some worms. It will make quite a stir.