Is gardening your hobby? And yet the worm composting technique has been a difficult step for you? What with the first site of those wiggly worms? I have been there. The revolution these silky strands aka worms bring around into the soil is worth sharing. It is a case of knowing the worm classification to create those classic pastures.
Let’s start with the basics and understand that compost is a soil supplement, full of nutrients required to help plants grow to their best bloom. It is pretty much like vitamins supplements we take to balance the body’s chemical composition. Worm Composting uses different types of worms that thrive in bedding material which results into rich compost.
Different Types Of Worms
1. The Red Wigglers
You will be amazed to know that there are 4,400 species of worms which have a promise of accelerating the composting process. But not all worms can deliver the rich humus of high quality.
The talented star of the worm composting or Vermicomposting is the “Red Wiggler” (Eisenia Fetida). The Red Wigglers are also known as Manure worms or Tiger worms. They are found to be stronger performers due to their high breeding rate. The Red wigglers are reddish brown small worms of around 1.5 to 2.5 inches in length.
In one day they can digest food worth half of their weight. They relish on the decomposing material of vegetation. They need a high protein content intake. The Red Wigglers are highly adaptive organisms. They have the ability to handle extremes of temperature and moisture. While the hatching happens every 3-4 weeks, each cocoon holds between 8-20 eggs. The adult phase can be reached anytime between 56 – 76 days for Red Wigglers. They digest the organic food intake and excrete the nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium rich micronutrients accelerating the composting process. You would want to test the PH soil level and adjust its range between 5 and 9. The worms perform best in this PH range.
2. The Red Worms
The Red worms (Lumbricus rubellus) are also known as Litter worms. They are often confused with the Red Wigglers. The Red worms, unlike Red Wigglers, are temperate zone residents. Unlike Red Wigglers which remain absent from garden soil environment the Red worms are found under rotting logs or in the moist soil.
The Red worm is often found closely associated with plant roots. While they reside on the litter surface, they also leave casts in the upper mineral soil surface. The worm color is dark red or maroon. It has no striping between segments. The Red worm can reach a size up to 3 inches in length. They are at their best activity between 64 to 72 degrees. They typically hatch in 12 to 16 weeks.
3. The European Nightcrawlers
The European Nightcrawlers are worms that live in deeper places of bins. They are larger in shape compared to the Red Wigglers and reach a length of 4-5 inches. The size does hamper their reproductive rate, and they also suffer from a shorter life span. They go through a cycle of 85 days to reach their full adulthood.
The European Nightcrawlers typically reside in the garden soil which is rich in organic matter. They are particularly useful in aerating & fertilizing the lawn or garden soil. Their excellent aeration capacity makes this worm a strong contender for composting purposes. The European Nightcrawlers are striped or banded worms with bluish, pink gray in color. The tip of their tail is unique in its pale yellow or cream color. The worms are well suited for compost pits with high fiber bedding content.
The European Nightcrawlers have also known as “Can’t go Wrong” worms as they adapt to cold or warm conditions quite quickly.
4. African Nightcrawlers
The African Nightcrawlers (ANCs) are about 8 inches long composting worms. These pale gray and purple colored worms are natives of West Africa as the name suggests. They are quick to arrive at the reproductive stage, in a period of 35-51 days. They are unable to handle extreme cold though. The ANC’s ability to produce large castings (worm poop) makes them the favorite for vermicomposting. The ANC’s enjoy voracious appetite which comprises of foods such as fruits, egg shells, vegetable waste, tree leaves, coffee grounds.
The ANC’s have ability to crawl and explore and hence it is necessary that the vermicomposting bins maintain good bedding conditions. The ANC’s travel to the top surface to gobble the decomposing matter.
Do you know that the compost ingredients such as food waste as well as yard waste make 30% of waste stream? We can avoid the clogging of lands and waterways by directing these wastes towards a more useful creation, the compost. The worm composting is a case in point of how a tiny worm can trigger a positive environmental change. The pest menace is known to go low when the right worm types are used to replenish the soil. The possibility of reduced dependence on pesticides is good news indeed.
So are you now set to take the jump in that worm bin? Well so are the worms. To start worm composting process you will require 1) A Worm Bin 2) The Composting Worms 3) A Base Of ‘bedding’ 4)Organic Waste materials. Remember the happier your worms are, the better quality compost they will produce.
The worm type wisdom is most relevant in today’s times. Many of us live in small residential spaces. But that should not restrict us from our green responsibilities. The worm composting technique gives us the power to create the creative pastures right in our drawing room. All this while reducing the water and land clogging by throwing waste food products into worm bins instead of the dust bin.
Now that you know how different worm types can change your garden texture, I hope you don’t find the wiggly worms repulsive anymore. I would be happy to receive your contributions in the form of a comment or suggestion in the comments section below.
I am Jane – a housewife. I live in a warm family with my husband and lovely kids. Two years ago, I started making my backyard into a garden, which supplies significant veggies for my family. I create this blog – puffycarrot.com in order to share my experience and what I’ve learned in gardening. Hope you will find something helpful for your own here.