Making It Grow – Red Worms and Louisiana Swamp Worms

[MUSIC PLAYING] We’re near Simpsonville,
South Carolina, and I’m speaking with
a farmer, Terry Unger. Terry, you started
off as a dairy farmer, but I don’t think we’re
going to be drinking milk from these animals. No, I don’t think so. I don’t think it
tastes too good. Because you’ve
decided to grow worms. Right. And what kind of worms
are we growing here? We’ve got the red worm and
the Louisiana swamp worm, which is just a variation
of a red worm, which is a little bit tougher worm. They stay on a hook better, and
they got just a bit of an odor to ’em. Aha, so some people
prefer one for fishing? Yeah, there’s just
personal preference. Some are just
strictly red worms, some are strictly swamp worms,
and some will get some of each. Now, to grow these worms, the
first thing you’ve got to do is you’ve got to
have a container. And you’ve got large
containers here. A lot of them look
homemade, and some of them look like you’ve kind of
repurposed appliances. How do you go
about starting off? Well, you can use anything
except for a treated wood. You cannot use treated wood,
because if that wood gets wet, then all them chemicals in
that wood is going to seep in the beds, and then that’s
going to kill your worms. Chemicals will kill worms. But we just used basically–
like the wood beds here is from the wood they built–
when they built these houses. When they throw the wood
out, I went and got it. And then the refrigerators, I
get them and cut them in half and make two beds out of them. And do you need to have
drainage in these boxes? Yeah, we found out that– I use a half-inch
drill bit to make a half-inch hole and
that way the excess water will drain out. Then we’ve got some beds, I’ve
got a bucket underneath them, like the bathtubs,
that catch the water. And then otherwise, just
let it drain on the ground. OK, and so you’ve got to
have material in here though, for the worms to grow in, so
what do you use as the bedding? We use peat moss
and Black Kow is what we use, and mix
that pound for pound. And soak it down real good. Let it sit for about
a week, 10 days, make sure your pH levels
are right close to seven. So 6.8 to 7.2, but
seven is just ideal. And after it’s done that,
gone through that heat cycle, then you’re ready to
put your worms in. So you have worms
in other boxes. You can just take
a handful or two and inoculate the bed with them. Yeah, yeah. Now, if you’re going
to grow these worms, you’ve got to feed
them something. So what are we going
to give them to eat? We use a chicken
feed that crumbles. You can use corn meal but
it’s got to be the plain. You don’t want that self-rising. It’s got that yeast in there
and it’ll blow your worms up and kill them. Really? Yeah, but we use the
chicken that crumbles. You can use the mash, which
is just like a powder, right? I found out for us, that
the crumbles work better. And how often do you
have to feed a worm? We feed ours once a week. You can get by, maybe
two or three days, depending on what
size setup you’ve got. Now an individual,
you can probably get by in three or four times– or once every
three or four days. OK, now, you don’t have
to mix the food in though. No, you just
leave it sit on top. The worms will come up, from
the bottom up and eat it. So they come up and
get it and take it down. Yeah, now, if you put it in
there and you bury it, then your bed’s going to
turn on the acid side, and that acid will
kill your worms. So you’ve learned after 20
years, all the techniques that are involved in
having healthy worms. Yeah. I imagine, at first,
that this was probably pretty much for
fishermen because we think of worms and
fishing, but you’ve said you’ve seen a difference
and people are telling you they’re using the worms
for different purposes. How is that changing, Terry? Well, a lot of them’s
using it for composting. And we’ve got– because
people’s wanting to compost for their
own food source, for vegetables,
planting them in. Then we’ve got
some that will buy ’em, just strictly just throw
’em out there in the garden for aeration. But the composting has picked
up big time in the last, oh, five years or so, and it’s the
younger people getting into it. They don’t want to throw
their food away and put it in the trash. And they can use these worms. You can have small
beds– is that correct– and do your own version of
composting on a smaller scale. Right, right. And then you end up with
the benefits of those worm castings. Yeah, because a lot people
like raising their own food nowadays. And also, you said your wife,
Jolene, actually will just use that in a flower pot. How has that been
working for her? That’s been working real good. You can put the pure worm
castings in a flower pot and put your flowers
in there, and you won’t have to change that
for about three years. We tried it four years,
but that fourth year, you start noticing the
nutrients are gone. That’s a long time
though, to have a flower pot so good and healthy and
grow beautiful plants for you, isn’t it? Yeah You mail these worms
across the country. Yeah, we ship
through the mail. It’s priority mail,
and you’ve got to do all the labeling on
there, and package it up like you would, tape it up like
you would a regular package, and take it to the Post Office. And the reason
you can do that is because you are growing
these in a controlled, clean environment. There’s no chance of
spreading any disease or anything like that. That’s right. It’s got to be a clean product. Do worms prefer warm
weather, hot weather? Are they happier then? Or what kind of
weather do worms like? Well, the worst
is the hot weather. There, they’re just going to– they’ll get like a human,
just want to get lazy and do nothing. The cold weather, they like
it, but the best temperatures are the fall and the spring. Terry, just like
when you were back in the cattle
business, even worms, you need to come out here and
keep an eye on them frequently, don’t you? Yeah, you’ve got to
be out here every day. They’re going to have to be
fed pretty much every day. And then they’re going to have
to be watered quite often. Summertime you can probably get
by maybe three times a week, wintertime or fall, about twice. Wintertime, it’s much cooler,
you can get by about once a week. Now, in the
summertime, depending on that outside temperature,
and how dry the air is, you might have to
water every day. So it really is just like
anything else, growing a plant or growing an animal,
you have to be attuned to the interaction
of the environment and that animal
itself and make sure that you’re filling
all of its needs. That’s right. If people want to learn
more about worms, if they want to get some worms, and try
starting some themselves or just to talk
to you about them, is there a way they can
get in touch with you? They can call us
at 864-299-1932. Well, I want to
thank you so much. And next time the weather is
nice and I’m going fishing, I know where I can get
me some nice worms. We’ll have them ready. [MUSIC PLAYING]

24 thoughts on “Making It Grow – Red Worms and Louisiana Swamp Worms

  1. Hi I am from South Africa turning 11 years and I also want to start my own earthworm farm but I don't have the worms to do it and I want to buy myself online but they're too expensive

  2. Really interesting and a good video with lot of clarity. Where are you operating from? I am in India and interested to visit your plant.

  3. Nice! I Wish i became Worms to Germany . I go fishing and must pay 3 euro for 10 Worms. Excuse my bad english. I hope i see and heare you next Time. (14.01.2019) my Name ist Bo 😀

  4. Start a recicling program for food industry ! You get all the food your buddies can eat and the food will not create methane gas in the fields for your children to breath

  5. I've just started my first worm bin one month ago and I noticed that I have larve taking over… any suggestions on how to get rid of them?

  6. Hi Terry I watched your and would like to know more about building a worm bin how deep should it be and the cost of your worms. I live in MISSOURI an the winters can be very cold is it possible to have worm bins here would I have to put heat lights on the bins. DO you have a email I could email you . my email is [email protected] would appreciate any information you could send me. thank you stan mashek

  7. Great mention black kow which is moist and dense heavy….the peat is in super dry and compressed and light fluffy….Do you wet peat so when you do the 50/50 mix by weight…There somewhat more Equal otherwise by Volume there would be lots more peat…In other words a bucket of B Kow weighs way more than a bucket of Dry Peat ….Hope ths ??? makes sense

  8. I raise those swamp worms and love them. Best bait I have ever used. I've probably got over 100,000 in one of my worm beds. Black Kow is just a pre composted manure that you can buy at lowes, etc. Daddy petes manure also works well. Peat moss 50/50 with the bagged manure is the right way to do it for swamp worms. Red wigglers can live in straight horse manure. I tried the same with the swamp worms and they did not like that.

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