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Worm Ranch

 

Today's Snack: Take a single-serving sack of 100-calorie chocolate wafer cookies, and crush the contents with a glass. Now cut the sack open and stick several gummy worms inside. Now eat your "worms" and "dirt." Ahhhh! Who knew worms and dirt could taste so good? Wash it down with a big glass of Vitamin D milk for that sunshine effect that makes everything grow.

 

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Supplies:

 

Desired quantity of nightcrawlers purchased from a bait shop

 

Or mail-order Red Worms or Tiger Worms from an online source such as www.oldsouthworms.com

(note: about $20 plus shipping per 1,000, though they'll be small)

 

Small bag of potting soil

 

A quart or two of coffee grounds, and fruit and vegetable peelings

 

Spray bottle of distilled water

 

Old newspaper

 

A few handfuls of grass clippings, old leaves or both

 

 

If you're going to release the worms in just a few days, you can make your "ranch" in a washed-out foam or plastic meat tray, or inside a plastic strawberry box, or other empty container you'd like to recycle and reuse

 

If you want to keep your worm ranch for a while, use a see-through plastic storage container with several tiny airholes drilled in the bottom (any time you're using anything sharp, make sure a parent or adult is around; ask a parent to drill the holes OR you can take your container to a hardware store and they'll do it for free), and more airholes drilled in the lid (or try using an ice pick to make holes, but you may crack the plastic a lot)

 

If you're going to put your worm ranch in the garage,

you'll need a plastic tray or larger container lid under it, to catch drips

 

 

Yee Haw! Let's start a worm ranch! Whether you want to grow worms to help out your parents' garden, or to provide fishing bait, it's a fun hobby and an easy one, too.

 

 

Worms live underground, so your ranch should duplicate those conditions. That means dark, cool and moist. If you have a shady tree in your yard, underneath it would be a great spot for your worm ranch.

 

Or try it in your garage, as long as there's plenty of air available. A basement will also work, if you can remember to tend your ranch. You can even keep it in your room, as long as you provide for water leakage through the holes in the bottom, with a tray or lid with sides that you can clean up.

 

There aren't too many things that can go wrong with a worm ranch, but two things to watch out for is not enough water so that the worms don't thrive, or too much, so that they drown.

 

First, shred up a few sheets of newspaper and put them in the bottom of your container, making sure there are lots of air holes. Throw in a few handfuls of soil. Spray with distilled water, but remember, not too much. Just several good sprays should do.

 

Note that tap water, that comes out of the faucet, has lots of chemicals in it, including chlorine. These chemicals are important for human health, but because worm skin is so thin, the chemicals would go right through it and hurt or kill the worm. That's why we use distilled water, which is purer and more like natural rainwater.

 

Throw in some more soil, then more sprays of distilled water, and place the worms on top of that layer. Next, put in more soil and the coffee grounds and food scraps. Then put in the rest of the soil. You can place some small gravel, a few handfuls of grass clippings and some dried, dead leaves on top.

 

Go ahead and place your worm "herd" on top.

 

Cover the container with the lid, making sure there are air holes punched in it. You could also cover it with an old rug or tarp if you don't think the lid will keep things dark enough.

 

It will be hard to see in to your ranch, but the worms will be in there tunneling, eating and growing. The tunneling is very helpful for gardens and farms because the worms aerate (pronounced "AIR ate") the soil. That means their tunnels draw fresh air down underground to help plant roots grow better.

 

You can check them any time, and "visit" them. You'll probably need to put in new coffee grounds and food scraps every two weeks, so mark feeding time on your calendar so you don't forget.

 

If the ranch smells bad, you've put in too much food, and it is beginning to rot. Sift through and remove the rotting food and start over with less.

 

You may need to hose off the plastic lid underneath your ranch periodically, if you've kept it inside your garage or down in a basement.

 

You could keep a notebook of how many worms you put in, and a few months later, do a re-count and see how many more you have.

 

OR you could grow them for a while, and if you start to tire of your ranch, just go fishing! Use them up as bait and share with your friends and family.

 

Or you can put handfuls of the soil containing worms all around your garden next to flowers, vegetables and bushes. The worms will have left "castings" - the nice way to refer to their solid waste - in the soil, which makes great fertilizer for plant roots.

 

That's a lot easier than a cattle drive or a roundup!

 

Yahoo! Enjoy your worm ranch, Pardner.

By Susan Darst Williams www.AfterSchoolTreats.com Environment 03 2008

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