Raising Earthworms for Fun and Profit

Raising earthworms for profit is not complicated, especially as a sideline. This account describes how Doris Hubbell and her business partner Art Muzzin earned a full time from their worm farm.


| September/October 1973



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Art muzzini and Doris Hubbell packing worms for shipment.


PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

The earthworm—once regarded as a mere creepy-crawler found on the road after a nice soft rain—has risen in status. This underground creature now often dwells in bins, barrels, washtubs, and other containers. There, it gives many people a new lease on life by putting bread on their tables and clothes on their backs ... or even by supporting them entirely.

One such person is Doris Hubbell, owner of the Charmer Worm Farm in Sacramento, California. As Doris puts it: "I never thought the earthworm would be just about my best friend, but it is. When my husband had to retire from the construction business because of a bad asthmatic condition we were faced with a real problem: What kind of work could he do that would fully support us and yet not be too hard? Then, since there are at least 90 million fishermen in the United States—including us—we decided that raising earthworms to sell for bait might be just what the doctor ordered."

The Hubbells started their new "farm" with four 4' X 7' bins of red hybrid earthworms. Today Doris (Mr. Hubbell was killed in an auto accident two years ago, and until recently—when Doris decided to go into partnership with Art Muzzin of Sacramento—she operated the business alone) keeps 800 bins, and her customers come from near and far to buy her "livestock" and the fertilizer it produces. The Charmer Farm also ships its worms and their castings all over the United States and Canada.

Meet the Earthworm

The red hybrid earthworm which saved the day for the Hubbells should not be confused with the everyday angleworm. The hybrid is a real moneymaker ... a superior type developed for commercial purposes.

Today's red earthworms are larger than their ancestors: The normal length of a well-fed, full-grown specimen is 3 to 3 1/2 inches, and some are even bigger. The creature is very adaptable to widely varying climates and conditions and will not become restless and crawl away if it's provided with adequate food and moisture.

Like the ordinary angleworm, the hybrid is bisexual ... each and every red wiggler has both male and female reproductive organs. It can—upon mating with another of its species—produce an egg capsule every seven to ten days. The capsules, in turn, each incubate in two or three weeks and release from two to twenty young. During the following 60—90 days, the newly hatched worms themselves mature to breeding age.

elizabeth
10/19/2014 8:35:36 AM

Enjoyed your news letter how many can you keep in one contaner befor you have to move some of them out would like to what can kill my worms besides birds and ants. thank you again for a great news letter


jean darling
6/28/2011 4:38:08 PM

We are buying nightcrawlers from a local place. The man smokes while handling the worms and the odor stays forever. Didn't I read in one of your articles about nicotine being harmful to the worms? My husband does not have good luck fishing using this person's worms. Might the nicotine have something to do with it?


bri_3
3/26/2007 9:41:06 PM

i just started raising an earthworm.


bri_2
3/26/2007 9:40:57 PM

i just started raising an earthworm.


bri_1
3/26/2007 9:40:52 PM

i just started raising an earthworm.






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