Earthworms and redworms are essential small creatures, which improve the soil nutrient level. Not only that these worms and improve the aeration. Therefore, they are a crucial element to your garden. We can add these worms directly to pots, containers, garden beds, and home compost bins and piles.
Earthworms are called nightcrawler worms, and redworms are called red wigglers, compost worms, or tiger worms. They are not the same. But visually they have a similar appearance. These two types of common worms use many gardeners to improve the fertility of compost and garden soil. Composting with worms called vermicomposting.
These two types of worms can live together in a single container if we provide the optimum living condition. Because these two species require different living conditions like temperature, soil depth. Therefore, these species’ reproduction can be slow down. Another main difference is these two species ate different types of materials.
Red wigglers are natively growing well in the compost pile. These redworms eat much organic matter including kitchen waste, papers, and leaves. Therefore, you can accelerate decomposing by adding red wigglers to your compost bin. When you are adding kitchen waste to the top of the compost pile, these worms can easily eat them. Hence, you do not have to turn the compost mix every week. Red wigglers can continue in a hot compost pile until you provide enough food. They can eat up to half their weight. These compost worms’ castings are rich in nutrients. You can read the full detail of how to identify a red wiggler.
Earthworms eat soil fungi, but not limited to that they also prefer both green organic matters like dead leaves, grass, and manure (source). These species can consume more than their body weight. Fully grown Earthworm body size maximum can 14 inches long. The most interesting thing is they do not have teeth. Nightcrawler worms poop are rich in nutrients (call it castings). Earthworms cannot survive in the hot compost pile. When the pile temperature gradually increasing these living organisms will reach the bottom of the heap to find a suitable temperature. If they cannot find appropriate living conditions, eventually, they will die. Using earthworms for composting has many benefits.
What is the difference between redworms and earthworms?
There are several differences between earthworms and red wigglers. The main difference is red wigglers living close to the soil surface and earthworms living few inches deeper (up to 6.5 feet deeper from the surface). Redworms eat food scraps, vegetable scraps, and even manure, leaves, and papers, though earthworms eat fungus on the soil and dead organic material and not like food scraps. Red wigglers are more aggressive than nightcrawler. In a body, size wigglers are smaller than the earthworms.
Red wigglers love 45°F and 80°F and when the environment getting hot, they find a cooler place to live. Nightcrawler worms prefer to live in 55°F and 85°F temperatures. In these conditions, we can expect optimum breeding.
Can earthworms and redworms live together?
Yes, Red wigglers and earthworms can live together in the same bin until they receive optimum living conditions. For both of these worms provide 55°F to 80°F (12°C to 26°C) temperature. When growing these two types of worms in the same compost bin, you must provide enough space. The other major advantage of these earthworms and red wigglers living together they eat different types of foods. Hence, there is no competition between them for food.
Nightcrawler bit larger than the redworms. Thus, according to each species density, you must provide enough space. Normally nightcrawlers like to dill deep into the soil. So better provide enough depth and diameter compost containers. Red tigers like to live close to the surface. When you maintain a worm farm, never keep them in a single container. When composting with worms no issues at all.
Importance of Earthworms in Soil.
Earthworm castings are rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium nutrients. They naturally enhance garden soil fertility. When these tiny animals living in the soil, they create a tunnel. It is improving the soil aeration and makes the soil loose. Furthermore, it improves proper hydration through the tunnels of those worms. These worms do not like to close to clay soil. Adding more organic matter can increase the nightcrawler and tiger worms population.
Composting with Worms.
You have to introduce worms to the compost pile at the right time. Especially when you are using a hot compost heap. If the temperature levels go over 80°F(26°C) it is not a good sign to them. We need to add these two types of worms to the compost and soil in a different way.
Earthworms for composting.
When adding earthworms to the compost bin they eat all the organic matter. Then it naturally boosts the material decay. Not only that their castings improve the compost fertility and improve aeration. When you are starting a compost, introduce earthworms. When the pile starts growing, they can easily reproduce and grow at every level. To provide optimum conditions you have to use cold or passive composting. If you use hot composting, add worms when the pile cools down. The best time is when the temperature reached below 80°F(26°C).
Redworms for composting.
Adding Red wiggler to the compost bin speedup the organic material breakdown process. In the beginning, it is best to add ½ pound (225g) worms per 1 square foot. Introducing red wigglers more productive than earthworms. Because they are breed rapidly and eat many organic matters. To provide better natural habitat to redworms, add more kitchen waste like vegetables and fruit scraps to the top of the pile. Because they live on top of the pile. Turning the pile not good for worms, therefore use cold composting. On the other hand, you do not need to turn the pile when introduced red wigglers. They decomposed everything. When you are using hot composting, introduce tiger worm when the pile gets cooler. The most suitable temperature is when the pile reached below 80°F(26°C).
How do I introduce worms to my garden?
Before introducing earthworms to your garden soil or pots and containers you must provide the proper environment. Add some organic matter like homemade compost, mulched leaves, grass clippings. Then dug around 1 inch deeper and add worms to the soil and cover up with the soil layer. Adding leaf mulch protects the worms against predators like birds.
In the winter season if the soil temperature drops to 32°F (0°C) earthworms cannot survive. To live without dying need over 50°F (10°C) temperature. However, at 50°F they are mostly dormant but can survive. If you provide enough depth (over 4 feet) they can easily dig into the deep for surviving in their burrows. In the summer, maintain a proper moisture level. Nightcrawler requires wet soil (not too much) to breathe and move around the soil.
Are worm castings poop?
Yes, worm castings are the poop of worms. It is also called vermicast and it is a dark brown and it has a soil-like appearance. This worm manure rich in organic nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium, and friendly bacteria.
How to care for Earthworms and Red Wiggler.
What to feed worms in a worm bin.
Worms like carbon materials and organic matter. You can add kitchen waste like vegetable scraps, chopped eggshell, banana peels worms love these materials. But never use more citrus peels, these things have a high acidic level, and worms not like acidic environments. Adding egg cartoon, wood chips, finely break stews, papers that don’t have ink are also beneficial. Maintaining enough moisture essential. Therefore never let the compost pile and soil dry out. Additionally, you can add worm supplements.
Earthworms and Red Wiggler like the dark?
These two worm species love the dark environment. Light is unnecessary for them because they do not have eyes. Once you have added worms to your compost bin or worm bin, avoid sunlight exposure. Sunlight burns the skin of worms. Better cover the top of the bin. In the dark, worm breeding increases. Although always provide good ventilation (never use sealed containers).
How long does it take for worms to breed?
Worms have male and female organs. They reproduce by rubbing up against each other. Once they are exchanging sperm, it generates cocoons(egg). Each egg can contain 2 to 4 worms. On average it takes around 3-4 weeks for hatching the eggs. This requires 70f temperatures. These baby earthworms and red wigglers require 2 to 3 months to start reproducing.
How to increase the earthworm population in soil?
We can easily increase the worm population in the soil by several methods.
- Avoid chemical fertilizer– Most of the chemical fertilizers rich in toxic. These poisonous kill innocent worms.
- Add more organic matter – Worms’ main foods are organic matter. Providing good foods to increase reproduction. Use more compost and leaf mulch. Even these worms like raw vegetable and fruit scraps adding them to soil not good, it makes bad odor. Although you can add crushed eggshell and banana peel powder.
- Maintain soil pH level at 6-7 level – Most all the worms not like acidic soil. They increase reproduction if the soil has the 6-7pH level. If your garden soil more acidic you can use more soil amendments like organic compost.
Does Nightcrawler and Red Wiggler need moisture?
Yes, earthworms and red wigglers need moisture to breathe. All worms breathe through their skin because they do not have lungs. While the soil dries out, their skin also dry and eventually die. When the skin dry, they cannot breathe through their skin. That is why worms live in humid and moist environments. Hence, when you add worms to garden beds, containers better maintain proper moisture.
Why Earthworms come out soil surface.
Earthworm normally lives in serval inches deeper soil. When they are not receiving good living conditions they normally reach the soil surface. For an instance high temperature, lack of organic matter (foods), or even no moisture at all (too dry). To provide a good living condition for compost worms introduce more organic compost and leaf mulch.
These animals need moisture but not too much. Proper watering of soil also beneficial. Makes it easy for them to breathe (through the skin) and move around.
Why earthworms come out when it rains?
This is not an issue when you are composting with worms. After the heavy rain, you may see these nightcrawlers come out from the soil (garden beds and soil). It is a completely different scenario. There are many arguments about Earthworms come out of the soil after heavy rain. One argument is when the waterflood to the soil they may receive less air concentrated water, due to lack of oxygen they come out (they breathe from the skin). Another possible reason is when the soil gets wet they receive easy travel conditions and move faster to find partners. Another possible reason is when the water drops hit the ground it makes a vibration. Then earthworms out of their burrows to the soil surface. There’s no exact reason (Source).