Are you looking for the best worms for composting?
Does it matter what type you use?
Can the right or wrong worms have an effect on the success of your compost?
If you’ve ever thought about trying worm bin composting—also known as vermicomposting—you may be surprised to find out that not all worms work the same way. In fact, there are some species of worm that are much better suited to composting than others.
Using the wrong kind of worm may lead to the failure of your composting pile. Some worms may not eat the type of waste you’re trying to compost, and others simply might not process it quickly enough.
Still others might be harmful to add to your plants after the fact, so it pays to do your research and learn about your worms before you begin.
In this article, we’ll teach you the basics of composting with worms, especially when it comes to picking the right ones. You’ll find out how to choose worms for your bin as well as what to do with them once you’ve got them.
Although it can take a little time to learn about worm composting and to get it right, this type of composting is actually very simple and effective when it’s up and running. Check out the information below to help you get started.
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All About Worms for Composting
In this section, we’ll give you a quick rundown of composting worms so you can get a better idea of which ones you need to use and how to use them. Brush up on everything you need to know about worms in order to ensure you create the perfect setup for your composting needs.
What kind of worm is best for composting?
- The right worm for the job is the red wiggler. This type of worm is scientifically known as Eisenia fetida. However, you may also be able to use the redworm, which is scientifically called Lumbricus rubellus.
Why is this worm the best choice?
- Since both of these types of worms eat vegetables, paper, and other general compostable types of waste, they are great choices for your worm bin. Red wigglers may be the better choice, however, simply because they’re a little bit easier to find overall than redworms.
What does this type of worm look like?
- Redworms and red wigglers both look like most other types of earthworms, and it can be difficult to tell them all apart just by looking. These two types of worms do have a red coloration, but so do many others, so that feature doesn’t help to narrow them down when comparing them.
Is this the same as a garden earthworm?
- Not necessarily. There are many different variations of earthworms that can be present in gardens. Some of these may be red wigglers or redworms, but they also may not be. Only those who are skilled at identifying worms can tell the difference between the various worms present in any given garden—or compost bin.
How are these worms used for composting?
- Worms are kept in a worm bin, which can be anything from a specialized container to a plastic lidded bucket with small air holes poked through it.
- The bin is filled with shredded paper, food scraps, and other worm-safe compostable materials, and it is kept damp at all times.
- Worms are then added. If the compost is ideal for worms, then they will burrow into it almost immediately, finding their way to their new sources of food in just a short amount of time.
- The worms are then left more or less alone, other than once a week when the compost needs to be turned. The compost can also be watered as necessary to keep it damp during this time.
- When there is no more food waste added to the bin—such as when it’s full—the worms then continue eating their way through the compost and helping to break it down into healthy, nutrient-rich fertilizer that can be used on plants. This process takes several weeks and may take up to two months, depending on how much compost is present and how good the worms’ conditions are.
What characteristics make them ideal for compost purposes?
- These worms are capable of eating most types of waste that are safe for composting, including fruit and vegetable scraps as well as some other types of food waste, paper products, natural fibers, pet hair, and more. Because the worms can eat these materials, they are excellent choices for composting.
- The worms are also beneficial for composting because their excrement can make your compost healthy and strong. It contains high levels of nitrogen as well as good bacteria that are needed to help break down compost quickly and keep it safe for plant use, too.
What conditions need to be met in order for them to thrive and succeed?
- Worms must be kept damp at all times, but not soaking wet.
- Worms should be kept at temperatures from 55 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. They should not be kept near heat or air vents, near stoves, or anywhere else where the temperature might fluctuate more than is natural during the day.
- Worms should not be fed materials they can’t eat, such as meat, pet waste, metal, or plastic. These are not vermicompost-friendly materials.
- Worms should be kept in large numbers (about a pound of worms per worm bin), but also shouldn’t be so crowded that they can’t even move around.
Do you feel prepared to get out there and start composting with worms in your new worm bin? It can be intimidating to begin worm-based composting, but it’s not too difficult when you have the right information to help you get started. Understanding the needs of your worms as well as your compost can help give you a good head start.
But where can you find worms for composting? Can you just dig them up out of the garden, or do you need to purchase them? In general, it’s not a good idea to use earthworms right out of the garden for your compost. Although they might be red wigglers, they might not be, so unless you’re a worm specialist, you should plan to order your worms from a supplier.
You can order from online suppliers or purchase in bulk in some stores. Either way, be sure to go with a company that knows worms and has some experience supplying composters with their much-needed red wigglers.
How many worms should you start with? Will they multiply? These are just some of the questions individuals who are new to vermicomposting often wonder. It’s a good rule of thumb to buy a pound of worms per worm bin, and to replenish your stock a little bit each time you harvest the compost. The worms will multiply, but they do so slowly, and it may take up to six months to see their numbers increase.
When you keep all this information in mind, you’ll be well on your way to setting up the ideal worm bin for your compost.
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