Todd’s Worms were not getting Bigger

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This is a question we get quite often.  Recently, one of our customers, Todds, emailed that her vermicomposting European Nightcrawlers weren’t getting any bigger.  She not only uses the worms for vermicomposting kitchen waste, but she also uses the worms for fishing.  She’s had these worms for over a year now.  Even though she’s not into worm farming as a business, the answer to her vermicomposting problem is same.

There are several reasons that worms stay small and don’t grow into  bait size.  Below is a summary of these reasons with remedies.

1.   The worms are too crowded.

In order for worms to reach maximum size, they need plenty of room.  This is particularly true for young worms.  In This case, it seems  her worms have been breeding and laying egg capsules all along.  These egg capsules have hatched and her vermicomposting bin is most likely getting over-crowded.

I told her to her was to split the bed into two.  Since she’s not interested in have more than one vermicomposting bin or in going into the worm farming business, she should give them away.  The worms must be divided and the population reduced in the existing bed for her worms to grow.

2.  The bedding is “too old” and/or compacted.

If she hasn’t changed out the bedding recently, her vermicomposting bin bedding has undoubtedly been converted almost entirely to worm castings.  An over concentration of worm castings is unhealthy for the worms and eventually kills them.euro-night

The good news is these worm castings are an excellent source of fertilizer for gardens and flowers.  She can take her worms out of the bedding, transfer them into fresh bedding and broadcast the castings onto her plants.  If the worm castings aren’t needed right away, they store very well and will keep until needed.

3.  There’s not enough food to go around.

The more worms in a bed, the more food is required.  When worms are growing, they need an “all-you-can-eat” food supply.  In Judith’s case, she wants worms to grow to bait size.  An option she could consider is to pull out the mature worms, put them into a separate bed and feed them a rich worm feed such as Purina Worm Chow (you can find it at some feed and seed farm stores.

This option is one you will be using in your worm farm business if you are going to serve the fish bait business.  Feeding your worms in this way is tricky and can lead to problems (such as “protein poisoning”) if not done correctly.  There are complete instructions on fattening bait worms in my upcoming “Worm Farm Manual”.

In a nutshell, feed rich, grain based worm feed only in the amount that the worms can consume in a 24 hour period.  The trick is to give them all they need without overfeeding.

Alabama Jumpers Make The Best Garden Worms

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Alabama Jumpers are actually an earthworm compared to most other worms many are familiar which are composting worms hence making them a better choice for your garden.

Composting worms usually prefer staying towards the top of the garden beds for several reasons, moisture, food availability… Another reason is many cannot take a harsh bedding such as hard packed clay, sand or even heavy dirt. Remember these are composting worms looking to devour breaking down organic matter and not dirt worms.

Now while the Alabama Jumpers also look for decaying organic matter to chow down on the surface areas, they are an earthworm which can burrow down up to 12 feet or so. They can and in fact prefer packed hard clay, packed dirt and even sandy soils to live in.

Since the compost worms basically stay towards the surface, the Alabama Jumpers also perform additional tasks to help your flowers, vegetable gardens and lawn areas grow. As they dig down deep, they leave open burrows which help to aerate the soil, allow for better water penetration through them and help promote better root growth for your plants by allowing roots to access and easily flourish throughout the burrow system.

At the same time many composting worms will not survive colder winter temperatures throughout the continental USA. On the other hand, Alabama Jumpers utilize two techniques to survive cold temperatures. In moderately cold areas they may simply burrow down to warmer soils several feet. In the colder climates the Alabama Jumpers coil up into a slime covered ball which they produce and go into a sleep like state, similar to hibernation.

Introducing your worms to the garden should not be a method of scattering them throughout. Rather using the Alabama Jumpers for instance, releasing in clumps of approximately 500 worms in a pile allowing them to dig down. Once they are down it is important to either have some decaying organic matter for them to eat in the immediate vicinity or place some material on top where you just released them. Another good food source to use if needed is Purina Worm Chow by sprinkling a little on top where you released them as needed.

The reasoning behind this method versus scattering them throughout is the fact that the worms need to be able to find each other to breed. If scattered around they will have difficulty doing so leaving you the option of buying new worms each year. By feeding the worm piles you drop into the garden you are keeping a good number of worms around to breed, lay cocoons and later on hatch.

Down the road as they become more populated the worms will begin to spread out and covering more and more territory in your yard or garden areas.

 

 

Alabama Jumpers The Perfect Earthworm For Yard And Garden Areas

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Alabama Jumpers are a unique worm and are a true earthworm. Rather than mainly stay near the surface they dig out tunnels allowing them to burrow down into the ground.

Most composting worms are not made to be let loose outdoors and will eventually die if not placed in the right environment.  For instance European nightcrawlers can survive throughout the United States in garden areas that have a lot of organic material on the surface such as damp layers of leaves for them to go through without having to burrow down deep into hard packed soils.

This is why many people do not see any or only a few worms the following year when released in the yard, vegetable and flower garden areas.

The Alabama Jumper on the other hand can burrow down deep and the harder packed the soil, clay or sandy materials are the better. They can tolerate these harsher conditions due to a tougher outer layer of skin encompassing the worm. This helps them to survive year after year.

The other difference comparing most composting worms to the Alabama Jumper and other earthworms is their ability to burrow down deep to escape the extreme colder surface temperatures and taking advantage of the naturally warmer temperatures a few feet below.

The other method earthworms can use is called estivation, where they coil up into a slime covered ball which they produce and go into a sleep like state, similar to hibernation. Most composting worms such as the red wiggler or nightcrawlers cannot estivate but rather die when it gets too cold.

Of course as with any type of worm the environment needs to be correct, however the Alabama Jumper has proved to be probably one of the most if not the number one worm able to adapt too many conditions. Originating in the tropics of some Asian countries and adapting all the way up to northern New England within the United States that we have found thus far.

The Alabama Jumper aerates plant root systems by generating these burrows which they constantly travel up and down through. As with any other worm, they leave their trail of worm castings further enhancing any type of soil condition.

Previously thought to come up to eat during the evening hours and hunker down below ground during the daytime has been found to be untrue.

In circumstances where one may have mulch or other organic matter in the yard or garden areas which remain damp or heavily shaded areas, the Alabama Jumper worm will eat almost continuously.

In fact, in test bins I set up in controlled environments which were covered so as not to allow any light to penetrate over the past month, I found the Alabama Jumpers constantly eating at all hours of the day. With just 300 worms in each worm bin, I ended up feeding them half a cup of food per day or equivalent to approximately a one gallon container of food per 300 worms over one month’s time.

I ran this experiment only after examining the Alabama Jumpers outside under some pine trees. The Alabama Jumpers would be active all day long in the shade as long as the pine needles on the ground were damp to wet. Once the pine needles were permitted to dry out, the worms would burrow below the surface and come back up only at night once the sun set.

So if you are looking for the perfect worm to release outside in the yard and garden areas to assist in aeration and soil enhancement, the Alabama Jumper is what you want.

Bruce

 

Alabama Jumpers and Their Ability to Adapt to Different Environments

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All across the Internet one will find that Alabama Jumpers live only as far north as Chattanooga Tennessee. I even originally believed this to be true since Alabama Jumpers originated from the tropical regions of some Asian countries.

As some of you already know, most web sites also state that one cannot raise Alabama Jumpers in a controlled environment and have them reproduce. Well it has been over a year now that I have been raising Alabama Jumpers prolifically as well as studying them. These are probably the most fascinating earthworm I have come across to date. Their ability to adapt to different conditions is astonishing!

First to better understand the Alabama Jumpers, one must realize the originated in the tropics where they survive through long periods of drought followed by torrential rainy seasons.

What most are already aware of is that they survived moderate winters in the southern half within the continental USA.

However, only recently I have found they survive much harsher winters and been able to verify this. In fact what makes this even more amazing is the fact that most of the country had record low temperatures this past winter and yet we have located the Alabama Jumper worms as far north as New England this summer!

The areas thus far are in upstate New York as well as in Massachusetts.

What makes the ability to adapt from one extreme to another is not yet known or over how many generations however I have not seen nor heard of any other worm being able to adapt to such muggy, humid, high temperatures to the frigid cold weather.

I do know from a past experiment last winter that the Alabama Jumpers will begin to slow down as their metabolism begins to slow at temperatures in the low to mid fifties.

I am working on another experiment, one which I hope to be able to see how far down under ground the Alabama Jumpers will burrow, perhaps shedding some light on the ability to survive the extreme cold weather in the continental U.S.

The exciting part to all of this now proves that just about anywhere in the continental U.S., avid gardeners with clay or hard packed non producing soils can take advantage of the Alabama Jumpers and the work they perform, revitalizing these types of soils with worm castings and aeration holes due to their burrowing underground.

Below are some newer pictures I have taken recently of the Alabama Jumpers on the Organic Worm Farm, a highly reputable worm business to order worms from.

Alabama Jumper close up picture

1,000 Alabama Jumpers

Alabama Jumpers for Sale

Alabama Jumpers Now Available From www.RedEarthWorms.com!

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It has been a while since I last posted here on the Alabama Jumpers web site and thank all of you for your patience. I am constantly getting contacted asking if we have Alabama Jumpers available for sale.

The problem arose originally with the extremely cold winter across the country this past winter. This sent the Alabama Jumpers grown outside in the fields down deep while also killing off a good number of them. Hence the other farms were left with no Alabama Jumpers to sell.

Before I realized this I sold off a larger portion of my Alabama Jumpers stock than I should have, leaving us short on our breeder supply. Over the past few months we have been breeding and studying ways to increase the growth rate of the Alabama Jumpers in our bins which are in a controlled environment. We are now seeing an increase in the weekly growth rate of 23% to 24%. I am hoping to see this about double in the coming weeks.

So what does this mean for you?

I am currently releasing limited numbers of Alabama Jumpers for sale again for the next few weeks. After this, I hope to be wide open offering unlimited numbers per week.

You can visit our online store to order your Alabama Jumpers today!

Thanks again for your patience,

Bruce Galle

Alabama Jumpers for Sale

Are Alabama Jumpers Good Manure Worms?

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Today I went to pick up some manure for a test to see if Alabama Jumpers make good manure worms since I get asked this about once a week or so. When I got to an acquaintances home, he had my bag, approximately 30 pounds, ready for me to pick up.

He asked me to look at his pile of donkey manure and inform him of what type of worms he had in the pile.

As he began to scratch off the top layers, worms began appearing. At first there was a good mix of red worms, including European nightcrawlers. Then he scratched off a little more and I jumped to grab some worms. To my complete amazement, here were Alabama Jumpers living naturally in his manure pile.

I was not sure how the Alabama Jumpers would do as a manure worm, especially since they seem to prefer hard packed material.

After examining the pile I noticed the Alabama Jumpers were residing below the top quarter of the manure where over time it had begun to become more compacted.

Well I ran home with my little bag of manure and realized my test was shot out the window. I decided just to setup a little manure pile outside and throw a quarter pound of Alabama Jumpers into it. I then grabbed a number of the small juvenile Alabama Jumpers and headed over to the manure pile.

Once I released the Alabama Jumpers they had all disappeared down into the manure in less than four minutes. They took right to the pile, even the young juvenile worms.

I plan to allow the pile to sit for a week or so before proceeding to scour through the manure to see where we are at. I will take pictures and post them at that time.

I do believe as the manure compacts a bit the Alabama Jumpers will do great as there is plenty of decomposing organic matter for them to eat and the temperature should remain a constant for now as the manure has already gone through its heating up process.

Bruce

Alabama Jumpers for Sale

Pictures Of Newly Hatched Alabama Jumpers

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Being I was running behind, I went to feed the Alabama Jumpers and my other worms the other night, which really should be done during the course of the day. The reason is that Alabama Jumpers as with other worms, earthworms feed during the evening hours. Alabama Jumpers especially are known to come to the surface during the night to feed on organic matter and return to the soil when the sun comes up.

In short this actually worked to my advantage for once since I have been trying to get pictures of the juvenile Alabama Jumpers since other sites claim raising Alabama Jumpers in captivity cannot be done while having a good reproduction rate.

Now the two pictures below of the juvenile Alabama Jumpers do not show a true 3D reality of what I can see since they are in 2D, they definitely prove one can raise Alabama Jumpers in a worm bin!

Below are to pictures which show thousands of newly hatched to one month old Alabama Jumpers raised in a worm bin which is three feet long by two foot wide. I have approximately a depth of one foot of bedding material.

The juvenile Alabama Jumpers are from a quarter inch long to approximately two inches long and literally covered the top of the worm bin.

Alabama Jumpers

Alabama Jumpers

Alabama Jumpers for Sale

Closer Look At Raising Alabama Jumpers In A Worm Bin

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I have been honing in on my shooting skills with my digital camera on the Alabama Jumpers as they burrow down rather quickly once I remove the lid. Today was a better day hence I figured I would post an update.

Now for those in disbelief that anyone can raise Alabama Jumpers which reproduce at a good rate in a controlled environment, here are some pictures for you. After all a picture is worth a thousand words or in this case worms!

These are just some of the juvenile Alabama Jumpers in the worm bin I have been raising them. When I dig down it literally will expose thousands more of the little guys from a quarter inch to about two inches in length.

The first picture below displays little stick like items in the photo which in reality are little Alabama Jumpers. This morning there were thousands on the surface area feeding on the remnants of some Purina Worm Chow I have been feeding them.

Alabama Jumpers Photo

The following picture is a close up image of a few of the small Alabama Jumpers. As you can see from the picture, they start off as translucent before growing into the grayish color known to the Alabama Jumper.

Picture of Alabama Jumpers

That’s all on the latest Alabama Jumpers update however will post some more in the near future.

Bruce Galle

Alabama Jumpers for Sale

Alabama Jumpers Feeding At Night

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Alabama Jumpers come to the surface at night to feed and burrow back down into the soil during the daytime hours.

I snapped this picture of some Alabama Jumpers at about 5am this morning, showing them on the surface feeding. It is difficult to catch them for as soon as I lift the cover off, they scramble below ground. This time I was quick enough to catch some of them in the act!

One thing to notice is that there are a number of new born Alabama Jumpers also eating on the surface. You can see a few of them towards the center of the picture.

Alabama Jumpers

One thing to keep in mind is that Alabama Jumpers do not only feed on the surface as this worm bin also has food on one side of the bin buried below the surface. In short, if there is a food source below the surface, the Alabama Jumpers will munch on it also, converting over to worm castings.

This is one reason the Alabama Jumpers do well for garden composting in the southern half of the United States. They will locate and consume organic matter above and below ground, revitalizing and enriching your soil in your yard and garden areas.

To order Alabama Jumpers or any other of our worm varieties, visit the online worm store at Order Worms.

Alabama Jumpers for Sale

Alabama Jumpers

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I found out something interesting concerning Alabama Jumpers a while back from a fellow long time worm farmer located in Alabama. While one would assume that these worms would be called Alabama Jumpers in Alabama, they are not. Rather they refer to them as Wigglers.

This is not to be confused with the red wigglers most folks use for composting as the Alabama Jumpers are grey in color, hence also called Grey Wigglers.

Getting a little confusing? Well it gets better!

Since Alabama Jumpers are also called Georgia Jumpers, I decided to call on another friend and long time worm farmer from Georgia. Again, one would assume in Georgia they would call them Georgia Jumpers but wrong again. They call them Alabama Jumpers!

I just thought you might find this humorous and wonder whoever came up with the name Alabama Jumpers since apparently it was not the folks in Alabama!

Bruce Galle

Alabama Jumpers for Sale