Earthworms are fascinating creatures. They live underground, regularly consume dirt, and live and thrive off of decomposing plant matter. Plants enjoy their company also as they aerate and fertilize the plant’s surrounding soil. These little and slimy creatures are also extremely desirable to fish. They are one of the best fishing baits available. Mankind has used these to catch fish for a very long time. They will catch fish when pretty much nothing else will and they are a gardener’s best friend. They catch bass, pike, panfish, crappie, yellow perch, carp, and they are even one of the best channel catfish baits available. Most fish cannot resist them. Sometimes, they can be hard to source or they can end up being very expensive because you lose so much bait to nibbling species. If there was a way of always having bait to fish with without going to a bait store or purchasing them in insanely expensive amounts, wouldn’t you want to know what it is? How about always having a steady supply of castings and plant friendly fertilizer to increase your plant’s harvest? As it turns out, there is a way. That method consists of making and managing a farm of worms. By learning how to create a worm farm, you are building a dwelling place for your pets to live and thrive in. You are also creating a breeding ground to multiply their population to as high as you want it to go. It may take a few bucks to get started but once you get it going, the amount of money you will save by not purchasing them all the time will make it pay for itself. You can also keep the farm after that too so you will never ever run out of them. Keeping worms alive for fishing is always a nice thing. You can even sell them to other gardeners so they can make their own, or to your angling buddies who love to go catch some panfish on live bait. This do-it-yourself tutorial will teach you how to build a basic setup that works well in producing numbers very consistently, year round.
How Does It Work?
The construction of the setup is fairly straightforward. This allows it to be used efficiently by pretty much anybody who is interested. The bottom bin houses the urine. However vulgar it may sound, every animal needs to do it at some point.
The bottom bin is used for this purpose exclusively. It is ok though. You really do not need to be ashamed of it. This liquid is like a golden growth elixir for your flowers and even edible plants. We are not even joking on this either.
It can even double or even triple their harvest in many cases. This bottom bin is used primarily so that they don’t drown. They breathe through their skin. A water valve or drainage plug will rest on the end so you can empty this container when it starts to fill up.
The middle and top bins are for the creatures to live in. It also allows you to efficiently separate them from the castings. Castings are the composted feces of its inhabitants. This stuff is also very good for the garden. It makes a great fertilizer that is biodegradable.
You fill both with bedding and fill the top one with food. It works because they instinctively always chase the food with the urge to eat. They will travel up through the small holes you drilled to feed on the food at the top of the bin, eat the food you provide, break it down into organic matter, and then deposit nutrient-rich castings into the soil.
Once they have finished eating the food in the top bin or close to it, remove it, empty the castings, put it on the bottom, and then put the other bin on top. Putting the food on the top bin will attract them to move out of the one they are currently in so you can harvest and empty it.
Add more food. Rinse and repeat many times over. They reproduce aggressively in this manner and will give you a steady supply in population. Their population just explodes when fed correctly. This system is centered around being efficient and productive for the angler.
This setup forces them to stay in one bin over another because of the food at the top. While they are feeding, you can remove the bin completely devoid of any life and use the castings as fertilizer for your garden.
Get the Correct Parts
What You’ll Need:
- At least 3 plastic storage containers. (Not clear ones)
- 1 Storage Container Lid
- A brick Or 2 ( any way to keep a bin higher up)
- Drain plug, tap, or valve
- A quarter inch drill bit (any way of making quarter-inch holes in thin plastic)
- A drill bit or hole saw the same diameter of the drain plug or tap
- A tub of Red Wrigglers (Eisenia fetida)
To start creating your own, you must get prepared by purchasing all the needed parts that make up the entirety of the construction, if you don’t already have them laying around. The very first things you will need are at least three plastic bins.
When I say plastic bins, I mean Rubbermaid storage containers or something similar to them. The brand name doesn’t matter too much. It needs to be a plastic storage container that is not see through. Don’t get clear ones.
Red Wrigglers hate light and clear totes will let it in very easily. This will make them want to leave the bins and you don’t want that. Try to get black ones if you can. If not, any dark color that doesn’t let in light should work great. Most people already have some of these just laying around. If not, you can pick them up from a local retailer for a few dollars. They should all come with lids. You will not need three lids. You only need one.
Keep the other two lids for something else or get rid of them. You can have more than three bins of course. It equates to a bigger setup, more individuals but more labor to manage. Decide which one works better or you.
If you want more population and are willing to put in the extra labor, get as many as you want. Next, you need some item or way of keeping the bins from sinking too deep inside the worm tea bin. A brick or two works very well for this.
Alternatively, it can be anything that gets the job done. You will want to set them in the tea bin before you add the other two bins. Next, you will need a drainage plug or tap of some sort. This will be installed into the bottom bin so you can easily remove the liquid without it affecting the health of your inhabitants at all.
Next, you will need a way of making quarter-inch holes through thin plastic. A drill is a nice tool to have for this and it makes the process easy. The reason is so that they can crawl through the containers from one to the others. It also will allow the tea (their urine) to fall to the bottom bin.
If you don’t have a drill, no worries. You can use absolutely anything to punch holes in the thin plastic. You will also need a good bedding material to fill two of the bins with. You can actually use a few things. All of them will be enjoyed by the entire population.
- Shredded Newspaper (Not colored)
- Shredded Cardboard
- Fall Leaves
- Straw or Hay
- Wood Chips
The last thing you will need is the creatures themselves. You should be after the Red Wriggler Worm, (Eisenia fetida). You can purchase them from pretty much anywhere that sells live bait or you can purchase them online from Amazon.
Makes sure it says Eisenia fetida somewhere on the label. These are the ones you want. You do not want to get the wrong breed at all. Do not get European Nightcrawlers (Eisenia Hortensis) or any other species.
That is because they do not breed the same as Red Wrigglers do. It would defeat the purpose of making a breeding box in the first place. Do not worry about the gender of your individuals either. All species of Earthworm are hermaphroditic. This means that all of them have both male and female reproductive organs. They will be compatible with one another.
How to Put Everything Together
1. Install The Tap Or Water Valve to The Bottom Bin
Now that we have all the components we need to start the worm farm, we need to assemble it and set it up. The very first thing you need to do is to install the drainage plug, valve or tap into the bottom bin.
You can achieve this by drilling a hole near the bottom of the container on one of the shorter ends right in the middle. A same sized drill bit or hole saw makes this extremely easy. If you prefer not to use either, you can still get a nice snug fit by doing it by hand.
It just takes a little longer. use a sharp pocket knife for the job. Now, al you have to do is thread the tap or plug inside of the hole. If it has threads, it should screw it in like a corkscrew until you have a nice snug fit. Then take the back of the device and screw it in from the other side of the plastic.
You should be left with a plastic container with a functional way to remove liquid. It is optional to seal the edges around the connect using silicone sealant. This part is not necessary, but it will prevent any leaking if any moisture seeps through. That does not happen often. That is why it is optional. After that, set the bottom tote aside. You are done with it for now.
2. Drill Holes In The Bottom Of The Other Bins
Next, you will want to drill quarter inch holes into the bottom of the other two bins. You want to completely fill both with quarter inch holes on one-inch centers. A normal drill bit with a measurement of a one-quarter inch should work perfectly for this.
If you do not have a drill bit of this size, you can use a pocket knife or a punching tool to get the same desired effect. It can be any drill. Cordless, electric, or you can even use a drill press if you wanted to. You want to make the holes in the two top bins on the bottom of them.
Cover the bottoms of them with these holes and make sure they are spread about an inch apart from each other. The holes in the plastic will allow the worms to travel up and down between the containers as well as permit the liquid to fall to the bottom one so you can harvest it.
This setup prevents the bedding from becoming to wet and drowning the inhabitants. it also acts as a temperature regulator as it wicks away unneeded moisture from the bedding. Repeat this for every bin you choose to use aside from the bottom one. If you have five bins, make holes in four of them while the bottom bin is left alone. If you have more, do likewise.
3. Get The Bins Ready For Action
Now that the plastic bins have enough holes drilled into them, it is time to set them up. You want to fill both of them with bedding. This will allow them to inhabit both containers. Insert a brick or two (or anything else that would prevent the top two from sinking into the bottom tightly) into the bottom container.
The top two should now not sink into the bottom one. After you have done this, we recommend checking the bedding for anything and everything that could be hazardous. Look for things such as too much moisture, not enough moisture, and other factors.
Always keep the bedding moist. Always use distilled water. Tap water is known for having chlorine, fluoride, and other harmful toxins that could kill off your entire population. If everything looks good and healthy we recommend adding the Red Wrigglers to their new home.
If you are worried about how to do this properly, don’t be. All you have to do is pour them on top of the bedding, cover them with a wet piece of cardboard, put the plastic lid back on the container and wait. Wait for one or two days. Check on them and their health.
If they have settled in nicely, you are ready to start feeding them. You can tell how well they are doing by examining if they are still on the top of the bedding or not. If not and they seem to have disappeared below, then they are doing fine.
4. Provide Some Much Needed Food
Now that the farm is done being built and the animals are settled in nicely to their new home, you are now able to start feeding them. In order for them to start reproducing, they have to have enough food to feed themselves and the babies once they hatch from the eggs.
That means you want to give them a good amount of food to eat. One worm may not eat much but when you factor in the sheer number you will get, providing food becomes a little more of a challenge. Thankfully, they are keen on eating many foods and materials that are thrown away by many households on a daily basis, including mine.
This means you should never have to buy food for them and if you do, the cost is still less than directly purchasing them for bait. For example, a couple of dollars will get you a huge cucumber from the supermarket’s produce section or a ton of carrots.
Enough to feed at least 60 adults for quite a while. It costs that much to buy about 10 Nightcrawlers from the bait store. If anything, most houses throw away cardboard boxes anyways but they will make excellent worm food.
Almost every processed food comes in a cardboard box of some sort. If it is not possible to obtain boxes, there is likely some dry leaves on the ground outside. Use those if you have to. They really don’t mind. This is what they eat in the wild after all. Naturally, the better the food the better the results.
Hands down, the best food for them is vegetable scraps. Right after that, fruits such as banana, berries, watermelon, apples, and grapes will make the best food for your worms. Just make sure the fruits are not heavily loaded with citric acid if you decide to take this route.
- Which Foods Are Safe To Provide?
- Vegetable Scraps (Not spicy ones or those full of gas)
- Non-citrus fruit (avoid lemons, oranges, limes, pineapple, etc.)
- Used Tea and Coffee Grounds/Filters (Mix With Other Foods)
- Dried Leaves
- Napkins and Paper Towels
- Paper Bags
- Which Foods Are NOT Safe To Provide?
- Spicy Food (including spicy peppers)
- Oily and Greasy Food
- Onions and Garlic
- Poisonous Plants (Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, Poison Sumac, Other Poisonous Plants)
If you are able, the best practice for heavily increasing your population is to make all the food you offer easily digestible for them. This certainly isn’t required, but it helps. For an angler who likes to use vegetable scraps, make sure to mush it up in a food processor first.
If you like to use dried leaves, it wouldn’t hurt to shred them up into small pieces somehow. Same thing with cardboard and every other food. The smaller the better. They will process it much faster and their population will explode soon.
Now you must be patient and wait. You will want to look for eggs and adults that are connected. Both of these mean that they are reproducing successfully in the home you have provided for them. How long you should wait is dependant on a variety of factors such as temperature, food provided, lighting, etc.
Keep a close, watchful, eye on their health and monitor them daily. Check them to see how they are doing. If any problem occurs, take the steps necessary to fix it by making accommodations somehow.
Start Harvesting Your Bait
The time has come. Now that they are eating and eggs are hatching, you must wait until the worm bin hits a leveling point. Continue feeding them and harvesting the castings. Rinse and repeat until the bin is completely full of a healthy, happy, thriving, population.
Resist the urge to start harvesting them right away once your population explodes. Don’t do it. Let them stay put for at least 3 months before you take any out. You want to give the new babies a chance to sexually mature before you start harvesting some of them.
The reason is that you always want some sexually mature ones mating in your bin. If you harvest all the ones that are mature and leave only hatchlings, you will not get any more babies until they mature. There is also a much higher chance that they could die simply because babies are so fragile.
A mature Red Wriggler that can breed is around 3 months old. That means as a rule of thumb, your population of bait should double every three months until they have filled up the containers. That equates to a lot of fish bait! Once they finally hit that point, the population potential for your farm is near limitless.
If it finally gets to the point where you are producing more than you need, you can transfer them to your flower bed and other plants to let them survive in the wild. There is absolutely nothing wrong with introducing them this way. Also, you can package them to sell to others if you choose. Fish are not the only ones who will consume these little buggers. They also make great feed for chickens, pet birds, amphibians, and reptiles.
The Best Way to Get Affordable Bait In A Nutshell
Bait is surely not getting any cheaper nowadays, especially concerning nature’s composters. They can be a great resource in the hands of gardeners and anglers, but they can cost a lot of money since they are a recurring expense. Learning how to create a worm farm, managing it, and harvesting worms efficiently will do wonders for your fishing success.
You will always have a consistent supply of the little critters to land your fish as well as increase your plant productivity. It isn’t hard to put together, it doesn’t cost very much, and it really works. Give it a try. They are a natural way of attracting fish and you will likely not run out of them ever again if you follow these tips carefully.
Have you ever built one of these? Leave a comment below this post to tell us your results!