Field and Stream Project: How to Raise Your Own Worms

  • Worms catch more fish than any other bait, but they are often difficult to find just when you need them most. If you plan on doing a lot of plunking this season, you may want to consider propagating your own steady supply of wigglers by setting up a worm farm. All it takes is a little know-how and a proper storage container. --JEROME B. ROBINSON

Materials •Opaque 10-gallon plastic storage tub with a tight-fitting lid •Watercooler-style plastic spigot (available at hardware stores or at www.spigots.net) or wine cork •Sheet of mesh screening to fit tub interior •Shredded paper or plain cardboard (nothing glossy) •Dead leaves •Wood chips •Gravel •Fine sand or ground eggshells •1 pound bait-shop red wigglers (about 750 worms) or European nightcrawlers (about 300)--a good source is the Happy D Ranch (888-989-1558; www.happydranch.com)

  1. Drill two parallel rows of 1/8-inch holes lengthwise across the lid and one row around the sides of the box a few inches below the top to allow air to circulate and moisture to disperse. Holes should be spaced 1 inch apart.

  2. Install the plastic spigot alongside a bottom corner of the tub per the manufacturer's instructions. Or drill or cut a ¾-inch hole and plug it with a cork. This will be used to periodically drain the fluid that accumulates as a result of the worms' composting activity.

  3. Cover the bottom of the tub with an inch or two of river-run gravel, and top that with a layer of mesh. Fill the tub two-thirds full with damp shredded paper and cardboard mixed with dead leaves, two handfuls of wood chips, and two handfuls of the sand or eggshells to provide the grit that worms use to grind food.

  4. Spread the worms in the tub and cover with more damp bedding. Replace the lid and put the tub in a vibration-free spot where the temperature can be maintained between 50 and 75 degrees. If farming crawlers, keep them near a source of constant light, or they're likely to slither off.Wait one week, then add a pound of mixed chopped vegetable scraps, fruit rinds, coffee grounds, used tea bags, and/or rotting leaves (no meat or animal products). Bury this mixture along with a handful of cornmeal beneath a few inches of the bedding whenever the previous supply disappears, about once a week. Add shredded paper and leaves as bedding is depleted, and sprinkle the surface with enough water to keep the bedding damp but not wet. If properly maintained, the farm should supply you with bait indefinitely.