We strongly recommend setting up your worm composting systems about one week before the worms arrive – in order to familiarize yourself with your system, get the bedding material in place, and get the microbial cycle initiated before the worms are added.
The all natural fertilizer produced by worms contains three times as many nutrients as the soil itself, and comes with a team of helpful microbes to keep your plants healthy and green, retain nutrients longer, and to fortify the soil they reside in. Plants enriched with vermicompost typically yield spectacular improvements.
Vermicompost tea has been shown to cause a 173.5% increase in plant growth by mass over plants grown without castings. These results were seen with only 10% addition of castings to produce these results.
Red wigglers are from the same family as the common earthworm or night crawler (Lumbricus terrestris) that you see on your driveway after a heavy rainfall. An important difference, and the main reason red wigglers are the preferred vermiculture specialists, is that night crawlers are loners and like to draw food down into their burrows (up to 6 feet deep), whereas red wigglers are gregarious and prefer to eat on the go. Being top feeders, red wigglers scavenge for food in the “litter layer”, 6″ – 12″ below the surface, making them ideal for a composting environment.
Moving through your organic waste at a surprising rate and producing generous amounts of nutrient-rich vermicompost. Very low maintenance, only a few minutes per week is all that is necessary to keep them happy and well fed. They can be left for periods of up to one month without harm and thrive in a wide range of temperatures. Unlike Lumbricus terrestris (dew worm), Eisenia fetida tolerate handling well – though when roughly handled, an eisenia fetida exudes a pungent liquid (an anti-predator adaptation).
An interesting alternative to its smaller cousin E.fetida, the European Nightcrawler is an excellent worm for both composting and bait. Exhibiting the same easy handling characteristics of the red wiggler, ENCs as they are also known, are considerably bigger but not as large as the Canadian Nightcrawler. An average specimen will weigh approximately 1.5 grams and can be as thick as a pencil. A vermicompost bin stocked with ENCs can be an economical food source for exotic pets such as salamanders and fish requiring live food. Here an added bonus is knowing where your feedstock has come from and what is in it; no harmful chemicals, pesticides etc. All this and a great composter too ~ truly a magnificent worm!
Compared to Eisenia fetida, Eisenia hortensis does best in an environment with a higher carbon (browns) to nitrogen (greens) ratio.