Best Compost Worms

Learn the things to look for when composting with worms

Vermicomposting, or using worms in the composting process, is a proven way to turn trash into rich, nutritious soil for your garden. However, you can’t just throw a handful of worms into your trash and expect wonderful fertilizer to be made. Instead, you need to find the best composting worms, and you need to know how to apply the worms to the compost before trying to produce compost with worms. Luckily, vermicomposting doesn’t take much time and effort. You can usually find composting worms online or you can buy composting worms at a local feed and garden store.

3 types of compost worms

The red worm, or "red wriggler"

According to the University of Nebraska—Lincoln, the best worms for composting are redworms. When you compost using worms, you use worm bins, or boxes with holes drilled in the bottom for drainage and a lid on the top to provide the worms with adequate shade. The kitchen scraps are then fed to the worms to create a rich compost. However, not all worms can survive in the temperatures that are often reached in the worm boxes. Redworms live in the right temperatures, so they are the best candidates for composting. Most other types of worms generally don’t have the tolerance for worm box life and quickly die.

The European nightcrawler

Also known as the Belgian worm, these worms grow twice as large as their red worm counterparts. For this reason, they don't just make good composting worms, they make good fishing bait, too. European nightcrawlers burrow a little deeper than red worms, where there is slightly more moisture. The European nightcrawler does not reproduce as quickly the red worms, which is why red worms are currently the most popular worm for vermicomposting. A larger worm population means more food can be broken down. In nature, European nightcrawlers live wherever large amounts of decaying organic matter, such as dead leaves, may be found.

The African nightcrawler

Another worm variety, the African nightcrawler, can also be used for composting, according to the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida. However, these worms are not as tolerant to cooler temperatures. As the name may imply, they thrive in warmer climates, and might be the best composting worm for people who live in subtropical areas. Adult African nightcrawlers are usually much larger then adult red worms, and like the red worms, they breed very rapidly, too.

Find compost worms

According to the Canada Office of Urban Agriculture, redworms tend to live in manure. To find the best composting worms, then, all you need to do is find some manure. A farmer with a horse stable, according to the Canada Office of Urban Agriculture, might be able to help you out. With a bag and some gloves, collect the worms. This is the natural way to go about getting the best composting worms for your compost pile.

Buy compost worms

If you’d rather not handle manure, you can buy composting worms online or from a local merchant. Some state or local departments of agriculture can help you find local worm farmers. However, there are also many online stores for composting worms. According to the Canada Office of Urban Agriculture, you need around 2,000 worms per pound of food waste per day. This is a large amount of worms, and many people would rather purchase than find them in these numbers.

Choose healthy composting worms

As with any animal sale, you should be sure that the composting worms you buy are healthy. This means purchasing from a reputable dealer. A reputable worm dealer will not only show a vast understanding of vermicomposting through a long and successful history in the business, but he or she will also offer excellent customer service. One way to test your worm dealer’s reputation is to ask him or her questions about vermicomposting (such as the type of worms used) and then check his or her answers against scientific publications. This tests a worm dealer’s knowledge and customer service ability.

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