After thirty days, my experiment with raising Alabama Jumpers in Michigan peat moss has proven fruitful. The Alabama Jumpers are doing well and keep producing little jumpers.
I checked on the worms this afternoon and noticed I had newly hatched Alabama Jumpers and some up to two inches long in the breeder bin already. It appears they lay cocoons that hatch and grow rapidly to this point thus far.
The bedding material is packed tight again as I already loosened it up with a garden claw two weeks ago. My concern is the amount of oxygen able to penetrate towards the bottom since the deeper I go the more packed the bedding material is. I did not loosen the bedding this time as I plan to screen the worm bin one evening this week.
The Alabama Jumpers are thoroughly enjoying the Purina Worm Chow I have been feeding them daily.
Not only are there little ones in the breeder worm bin, however the adolescent Alabama Jumpers are in great shape, thick and healthy.
Going back to the original experiment with bedding consisting of hardwood sawdust and shavings, the material is over 50% composted now into worm castings. This bedding material does not pack hard as the Michigan black peat moss does hence the oxygen levels appear to be doing well since the Alabama Jumpers congregate throughout the bedding material. In this bin I still continue to feed them the Purina Worm Chow as well as some food scraps every few weeks. I noticed the other evening that this bin was covered with literally a hundred or more new juvenile Alabama Jumpers as I was adding some more feed.
This brings me to another point. I am still noticing that the areas with food scraps contain the larger mature worms and newly hatched juveniles. I am not seeing any of the two inch or so juveniles in the food scrap area as I am only finding them in the surrounding areas.
Contrary to what most web sites state, that one cannot breed Alabama Jumpers in captivity, when it comes to raising them in an environment favorable for reproduction to occur, these two experiments prove otherwise. In fact both experiments have proven to be an effective means by which anyone can raise prolific Alabama Jumpers in a worm bin. The only concern is the Michigan black peat compacting so hard over a two week period which can be eliminated by stirring up the worm bin bedding thoroughly every two weeks.
This is good sign since not only can Alabama Jumpers be raised for composting but they make an awesome live fishing worm. I have fished with them as bait myself in the past and was quite impressed. They remain on the hook apparently due to the tougher skin they have which enables them to borrow through hard packed clay and survive in course sandy soils. The Alabama Jumper lives up to its name as super live bait worm by wiggling more in the water than its relatives.
Well the latest bedding for the Alabama Jumpers I have tried is black peat moss. This material is a little more difficult to come by but most nurseries and higher end places will carry it.
Black peat is a darker, richer looking material since it is decomposed further than the most familiar variety sphagnum peat which is browner in color.
I originally tried the sphagnum peat moss for raising Alabama Jumpers however being it has the highest water holding capacity of the peat moss family this raised an issue. The sphagnum peat held the water which eventually drained towards the bottom layers making them too wet. Much like a sponge will drain when full of water.
The black peat moss holds the moisture better without draining, hence keeping a balance of moisture throughout the bin.
I was fascinated when I released the Alabama Jumpers into the black peat moss as they appeared right at home. Usually there is an adjustment period of up to 2 weeks when changing the bedding material.
I released 275 Alabama Jumpers into approximately a half filled 5 gallon bucket with the black peat moss. I had predrilled holes on the top and along the bottom sides of the bucket.
Since the release of the Alabama Jumpers into the black peat two weeks ago, I now have some cocoons as well as young recently hatched Alabama Jumper worms.
This brings me to a couple points making Alabama Jumpers unique based on my observations thus far. First the Alabama Jumper cocoons apparently hatch much faster than other worms. The cocoons were laid and some hatched within a short two week period. On the down side, I have only noticed one Alabama Jumper hatchling per cocoon thus far. I believe the rapid laying and hatching of the cocoons could be away for the Alabama Jumpers to overcome the shortcoming of one worm per egg in order to compete in reproduction with other types of worms.
I have been feeding the Alabama Jumpers the Purina Worm Chow every other day.
Will post further news as it becomes available!
Over and over it has been stated that one cannot raise Alabama Jumpers in captivity if you want them to be prolific. I am happy to be able to report I have finally proven this to be false as I currently have a good number of second generation Alabama Jumpers now growing in an interior worm bin on the farm.
The worm bin for this experiment was not large, rather only 4 ½ square feet of surface area. The depth is 18 inches with the original bedding material of 14 inches deep. I have approximately 800 Alabama Jumper worms in the worm bin.
As my original posts have stated, I have been able to hold these Alabama Jumpers and keep them healthy for approximately three months now. The problem was in having the correct conditions which would enable them to reproduce. As the last article mentioned, I was feeding them strictly Purina Worm Chow as they gobble it down. Currently I use it as a substitute which still disappears daily.
The difference came about when I began adding vegetable scraps, same as one would add to a red wiggler worm bin or worm farm.
I have noticed something recently with the addition of a second mound of pureed vegetable scraps once it cooled down. The majority of the Alabama Jumpers in this mound are the larger worms. I am not sure whether this is a coincidence or if there is some type of social behavior. I have never seen them to be aggressive to one another; hence I do not believe that the younger mature worms are being chased away. I do have to wonder if there could be some type of hierarchy to the Alabama Jumpers which is understood that only larger mature worms to take over an area suitable for breeding while maintaining an understanding that the smaller worms stay out. This definitely has me intrigued so I have a new theory to try.
Back to the original reason for this article, as the picture illustrates below some recently hatched Alabama Jumpers. As they are young and this is an experiment, I am not going to pull a lot of them out as I am trying to disturb them as little as possible to receive more accurate results.
I will be trying to watch these to see at what rate they grow. To accomplish this I am trying a new bedding material which I will screen after two weeks in hopes of harvesting some cocoons from the Alabama Jumpers to raise separately.
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Today I am going to discuss some things concerning Alabama Jumpers that probably go against much of what you have heard or read about. However, I have been running some experiments with Alabama Jumpers and have some updated information, based upon facts! Many websites simply duplicate what others state, where as on our worm farm we constantly run experiments on the worms, plants with vermicast… to see what will actually happen
Over the past few weeks I have been keeping you updated on my results with Alabama Jumpers with an interior worm bin. At the moment they have not been prolific, even though I have had them for over two months. They have remained extremely healthy, eating on Purina Worm Chow, something I highly recommend when starting Alabama Jumpers in a compost pile outside or keeping them inside to store for fishing.
Going back to the beginning the bedding was something I was trying to get down for holding Alabama Jumpers in captivity. When using clay and or a clay mix, the clay would become compacted and was difficult to maintain steady moisture throughout without over soaking the bedding since most bins taper towards the bottom, hence assisting the packing of the clay. I tried a peat moss base however this ended up killing a good number of the mature worms off. It appeared to hold to much dampness and something the Alabama Jumpers simply did not enjoy to live in.
Then I tried something totally off the wall. See after an investment, I was able to not only lower the price on Alabama Jumpers compared to the other websites offering them; I also got to take advantage of trade secrets of the worm farms raising Alabama Jumpers in the open acreage. One item that caught my attention was the amount of peanut husks the worm farms purchased and spread over the grounds. Now I had tried this in my worm bin, however since peanut husks take a very long time to decompose, it appeared it would take a year or so for the peanut shells to break down where I needed them. Now for anyone trying to raise Alabama Jumpers in captivity, waiting a year for them to hopefully become prolific was a lot to ask. So I went to plan “B”.
I went out on a mission to locate the perfect bedding material for Alabama Jumpers in a worm bin. I found some from a local cabinet maker and friend of mine. He has been making hardwood cabinets for over 20 years now. Over time he has accumulated a pile of shavings and sawdust which encompasses close to 1,000 square feet of surface area and is approximately 15 feet high.
Now the wood shavings and sawdust on the top of the pile were not what I was after, but rather the decomposing material underneath. The product I found was dark and earthlike however still felt gritty and contained some shavings as well. When smelled, some sections smelled like wood while others like fresh virgin soil.
The Alabama Jumpers took quite fast to the new bedding and by adding Purina Worm Chow on the surface; they began to produce worm castings almost immediately. After a couple weeks the bedding was full of worm castings mixed throughout and suitable to maintain the Alabama Jumpers. They no longer were trying to escape… not a single worm!
After over two months there was still an issue at hand. The Alabama Jumpers were not reproducing. I could not find a single cocoon even though the worms were healthy and appeared happy.
I have approximately 800 Alabama Jumpers in a wood worm bin which consists of 4.5 square feet of surface area. The bin is 18” deep however the composted material is shrinking due to the replacement by worm castings. The Alabama Jumper worm castings, or vermicast, are a bit different looking than other worms, more of a minuscule pellet form hence not as fluffy and taking up less room than other worm castings. As the bedding material decomposes and the Alabama Jumpers eat, the level in the worm bin is lowering.
As I mentioned in my two previous posts, I have tried to introduce vegetable scraps which I actually ground up and mixed with other materials to thicken, such as peat moss.
When I originally introduced the food scraps, they began to heat up and the worms stayed clear of it. As it cooled down, something which happens rather quickly when the food is frozen, thawed then placed in a blender to make into a liquid form, hence the peat moss to thicken.
Now that the material has cooled, the Alabama Jumpers have been migrating in great numbers to the food and eating it as I placed a thicker layer underneath while a thin layer on top of it on some damp cardboard. I have noticed about half of the material on top of the cardboard is now gone within a matter of the past week.
I have a picture below, which only displays a few of the worms on top for as soon as the cover is removed, most burrow back down rather quickly.
Being the worms are now congregating in numbers means they now have the ability to begin mating with each other. Studying other worms such as African nightcrawlers, red wigglers and European nightcrawlers, I have noticed a common denominator. Once the worms become comfortable in their new surroundings, they clump together, some varieties more than others, and the cocoons begin to appear shortly thereafter.
I am hoping with the migration of the Alabama Jumpers to the food scraps that they will now behave as the other worms have and begin to finally become prolific in captivity.
Something I was able to determine from this thus far is that you can place Alabama Jumpers in a compost pile outdoors which contains vegetable scraps such as Bell Peppers, potato peelings, carrots, lettuce, apples… and they will consume it. I would recommend keeping away from the same products you do with red wigglers, citrus, onions… The heating seems to push the Alabama Jumpers away, so try to keep your food scraps to one corner. Once full, try the next corner of your compost pile and so on working either clockwise or counter clockwise. Over enough time, this would generate four zones from hot to just about consumed. This would leave the center of the compost pile available to the Alabama Jumpers in the event none of your four food corner piles are pleasing to their pallet at the moment!
I will update the blog in a few more days as I am trying not to disturb the Alabama jumpers too much in hopes of obtaining the results that theoretically should happen now, reproduction.
Click here to order Alabama Jumpers and be sure to bookmark this website as we will be updating shortly. If you are looking for information on red wigglers, African or European nightcrawlers, check out the Worm Composting Blog. Also check out The Worm Expert discussion forum where you can view the ongoing threads and join the community to ask your questions.
I just back from feeding the worms and had to take a sneak peak on the Alabama Jumpers in the worm bin. If you missed part 1, you can click here.
The vegetable scraps I placed on the one side of the worm bin where I am currently trying to raise some, has now cooled down. However there are even more Alabama Jumpers residing in the mixture on the one side I originally dug a small trench to fill. In fact there are dozens of the worms now living within the vegetable scrap pile as well as just underneath it.
Since the decomposing material has now cooled down and they continue to be drawn to the area, I can eliminate the extra heat as the reason they are beginning to swarm to the trenched area.
To insure it is not a moisture difference, I have been checking daily with a moisture meter to make sure the entire worm bin is evenly moist. So far we are right on the money!
If it turns out the Alabama Jumpers I am trying to raise in the worm bin are attracted to the vegetable scraps I placed in with them to eat, it will be a good sign. This would mean that you could make a compost pile out of just about any material, food scraps, paper, hay, leaves… and allow the Alabama Jumpers to work on the material as well as spread out through your yard or garden area.
I will try to get another update over the weekend sometime as well as try to upload some pictures or videos to go along with Raising Alabama Jumpers In A Worm Bin Part 3.
In the meantime, keep safe and have a great holiday season!
After approximately two months, the Alabama Jumpers in my worm bin are healthy and appear happy. They are fattening up and growing. The only problem is that they are not prolific at this time which others have reported when raising in captivity.
When raising Alabama Jumpers inside in a worm bin, I decided to go back to the drawing board and start from the beginning.
I have read till I am blue in the face that Alabama Jumpers do not feed on food scraps such as vegetables. Well go ahead and hit me After all I have preached about not believing in everything you read online as it contains much false hoods.
Keep in mind the Alabama Jumpers are eating well as they thoroughly enjoy the Purina Worm Chow I place in the worm bin as well as the ones outside I feed with it every week. I have noticed that the Alabama Jumpers appear to be congregating more in the moister and warmer areas of the worm bin. Hence my idea was born…
Two days ago, I took some vegetable scraps and coffee grinds and placed all of it in a blender to make a soupy mixture. I then mixed in some peat moss to thicken the mixture a bit. I proceeded to the Alabama Jumpers worm bin and dug out a trench on one side, laid down some cardboard and evenly distributed the mix to fill the trench. I then covered this with some damp cardboard followed up with some damp newspaper.
After day one, I noticed a few worms on the edge between the regular bedding and the new mixture, which I figured could have been a fluke.
I checked again this morning, day two, and now noticed a few of the Alabama Jumpers were in the middle of the vegetable scrap mixture itself. Now mind you there are only a few however the mixture was heated up a bit on day one and is beginning to cool down. The worms in the mixture appear to be healthy and wiggling well.
It is too early to tell whether the Alabama Jumpers are moving into the food mix because of the available food itself or the heat being generated as the material begins to compose. It may even be a blend of both or perhaps the moisture content.
I will update this post within the next few days as it could become very interesting!
Alabama Jumpers – Amynthas gracilus also known as the grey wiggler like the one in the picture below are not red worms. They are of a grey color and can be highlighted in fluorescent colors when held up to the light.
There are some websites online offering Alabama Jumpers under the name of Super Red Worms which are actually European nightcrawlers – Eisenia Hortensis.
So what’s the big deal?
First off the Alabama Jumper is a great garden bed or yard composting worm which survives and converts hard packed clay and sandy soils into a fertile loose organic soil matter due to the nature of the outer layer of tough skin. They survive outside and are not prolific in a worm bin.
The European nightcrawler will have a low to zero survival rate when placed in hard packed clay and or sandy soils outside since their skin cannot take the hard abrasions. They are very prolific in a worm bin.
Basically these two worms are opposites and used for different purposes with the exception of fishing. Both the Alabama Jumper and European nightcrawler make excellent fishing worms!
There is another site I recently came across offering a mix of so called red wigglers and Alabama Jumpers. Again, these two worms are incompatible.
The red wiggler is a composting worm which will do well in a controlled environment with a bedding of peat moss, shredded newspaper, cardboard… however will not in soil. The red wiggler also will do well on nitrogen based food scraps or what are referred to as green organic products such as lettuce, bell peppers, banana peels, string beans… mixed in with the bedding.
The Alabama Jumpers prefers a soil base such as clay and or sand and does not do well with the green organic products. It prefers the carbon based or brown organic products such as shredded newspaper, cardboard, leaves, hay, peanut shells…
So before you waste your money, always use a reputable worm dealer or worm farm to purchase your worms to insure you get the right worms for your needs.
A recommended site is Organic Worm Farm which is a reputable worm website offering the lowest prices on Alabama Jumpers. They also offer a toll free telephone number to answer any questions you might have on Alabama Jumpers or any other composting and fishing worms.
I checked on the hay pile containing Alabama Jumpers, excellent composting & fishing worms today. The weather here is South Carolina has turned colder for this part of the country along with a good amount of cold rain.
Currently it is 51.1 degrees Fahrenheit at noon time.
When I removed a couple inches of hay to get a temperature reading of the top area of the Alabama Jumpers pile it read 42 degrees. As I dug down to the ground level as the Alabama Jumper pile is about one and a half feet high I was getting readings of 53 to 54 degrees Fahrenheit. So it appears currently the internal temperature is now holding steady for the past month.
I am happy to report I found the Alabama Jumpers there however they were a little sluggish compared to how they react during the warmer months. They are moving around but not jumping like they will do when they are warmer.
One thing I noticed right away was the size and thickness of these worms. I have been adding Purina Worm Chow weekly to the pile and the girth of the worms shows this. The Alabama Jumpers are now about as thick as a number 2 pencil which for these worms is very thick.
I will post another update on the Alabama Jumpers after the holidays!
Alabama Jumpers are known for their fast wriggling action which enables them to jump.
In reality they coil up and wriggle to the point the Alabama Jumper becomes a loaded spring which releases suddenly, hence enabling them to jump.
To give you an idea of the Alabama Jumpers ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound I decided to put together this amusing little video.
These worms are excellent for garden and flower bed areas where the soil consists mainly of hard packed clay or sand. Alabama Jumpers also make an excellent fishing worm not only for their great wiggling activity but also their longevity in the water on a hook!