The Joy of Nematodes.....Culturing Microworms
by Humphry Axelbearing
Culturing Microworms is just about as easy as it gets! They grow and proliferate on many types of medium including corn-meal, oatmeal, fresh potato, potato buds, etc - but for optimum results, I highly recommend Gerber Mixed Cereal. For a small (i.e. margarine tub) culture start with 2 - 3 tablespoons of cereal, add a pinch of active dry yeast (~ 1/8 tsp) and stir in enough water to make a sticky ball - about 1 inch in diameter. The yeast is critical, as it helps keep bacteria count under control and in my experience can triple the life of the culture! Place the ball of cereal in the center of your container and add a dollop of worms from a thriving culture. Make sure you transfer only the microworms and none of the media (and therefore bacteria) from the older culture! Depending on how many worms you start with it will take 3-7 days before the population increases to the point where the microworms start "climbing the walls". As the population grows the ball of cereal will gradually spread out and liquify. When you tilt the container and the media runs downhill it is time to deal with the excess liquid. Try sprinkling either dry Gerber cereal, or whole Quaker oats around the bottom of the container to soak up the liquid and extend the useful life of the culture. Typically, you can begin harvesting within a few days of starting a culture and keep harvesting for up to 6 weeks. Eventually the medium starts to darken and takes on a memorable odor (to put it mildly - a culture gone bad will elicit a strong gag reflex when you pop the lid!) My recommendation is to start a new culture every 2 - 3 weeks, so you always have more than one going... I keep 3 cultures going at all times, and each time I start a new one I toss the oldest. This may seem like overkill, but it has 2 advantages... first, it ensures that no matter what happens I will usually be able to get enough worms from one of the containers to start a new culture . And second, I never have to deal with a culture that is so far past it's prime that it elicits the gag reaction. Last bits of advice, keep them at room temp and allow the culture to "breath" by poking a couple small holes in the top!
Keep your mops wet and your martinis dry!