Posts tagged raising Alabama Jumpers
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.
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.
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.
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.
That’s all on the latest Alabama Jumpers update however will post some more in the near future.
Anyone can raise Alabama Jumpers for fishing or composting either outside in a compost pile or contrary to what most other web sites state, inside in worm bin.
Alabama Jumpers have a tougher skin allowing them to stay on the hook better than many other types of worms. The name itself, Alabama Jumpers should give it away to the type of action they perform when dipped into your local fishing hole.
Alabama Jumpers originate in the tropical and subtropical regions however are known to live in the soil as far north as Chattanooga, TN. They do well but become a little sluggish once the temperatures reach into the mid fifties inside a compost pile or worm bin.
Raising Alabama Jumpers outside for yard and garden composting as well as for fishing, you will need a compost pile basically consisting of shredded newspaper and cardboard or hay. As this decomposes it will generate some protection for your worms and their food source.
Alabama Jumpers survive well when fed vegetable scraps, heeding caution to heating up the entire pile at once. To avoid this, place your food scraps into one corner of the pile, under the shredded material or hay and move clockwise or counter clockwise as you continue to add more material over time, permitting areas to heat up and others to cool down enough for the Alabama Jumpers to begin eating.
To raise Alabama Jumpers for fishing inside in a worm bin is a bit different. I have personally been successful raising them in two types of bedding materials. Either way demands a good airflow on both the top and bottom of the worm bin.
The first way is to use partially decomposed hardwood shavings and sawdust. Keep away from softer woods, pines which can contain turpentine, oak which can be acidic or woods that put off an odor such as cedar. Mix about 5% sphagnum peat moss with the material. The bedding material should have a depth should be about 1.5 feet. Add about one half cup of sand per five gallons of bedding material. Again you may add vegetable scraps the same way you would raise red wigglers, by placing in one corner at a time and covering it up with some damp shredded newspaper or cardboard to avoid odors coming from the worm bin.
The second method requires another type of peat moss, Michigan Black Peat Moss. Do not attempt this with sphagnum peat moss as it does not work due to the decomposition stage and the way each retains moisture…
Here you will want to fill your worm bin with about one foot of Michigan black peat. Do not add food scraps to this system as I will explain in a bit. Usually the black peat comes at the right moisture level and is presoaked so there is no need to work it any further. You will find the bedding material becomes compacted within a week or two, something that you would be concerned about with most worms but nothing to be concerned about when raising Alabama Jumpers. Remember these worms do well in hard packed clay and seem to appreciate the hard packed bedding material.
As for feed, vegetable scraps will sour this mix too easily. The best food to use is Purina Worm Chow fed daily to your worms. The Worm Chow also makes an excellent supplement to feeding your worms whether in an outside compost pile or raising them in a worm bin.
Alabama Jumpers can lay cocoons that hatch rather quickly in either compost piles or worm bins as long as you maintain an eco friendly environment for them.
To learn more on this subject, be sure to drop by the Worm Composting Blog and sign up for the free newsletter if you have not already. Bruce Galle, the author of this article has been raising worms for over thirty years and continues educating the public on raising both composting and fishing worms from his Blog as well as his other web site, The Worm Expert.
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.
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.
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!