Vermicomposting is an increasingly popular way of disposing of household waste. From food scraps to human toilet waste, composting worms will happily munch on most things! As well as being a planet-friendly way to dispose of waste, vermicomposting also provides an extremely nutrient-rich fertilizer for your garden. It’s a win-win. However, not every worm can compost your waste – unfortunately, worms you commonly find in your garden are not composting worms. What then are the best worms for composting and where can you find them?
What are the best composting worms?
Wherever you are in the world there will be composting worm species. These include The Red/Tiger Worm (Eisenia Fetida) and Indian Blue (Perionyx Excavatus). The European Nighcrawler (Dendrobaena veneta) is also a great composting worm. However, it tends to prefer compost piles that have a higher carbon content – a pile that contains more ‘browns’. If your vermicomposting bin is mainly for ‘green’, nitrogen-rich food scraps, this would not be the optimal species to choose.
Some species are considered better composters than others. The Indian Blue are particularly good composters, but these varieties tend to be less popular – possibly due to being a bit more fussy about their environment! If you are just entering into the vermicomposting world, we would recommend the red/tiger worms as a great place to start. These are generally very easy to source and can multiply quickly. They are also tolerant to a wide range of temperatures – making them easy to keep as a newbie.
Where do I get worms for composting?
The local fishing store is a good place to start when looking for a batch of composting worms. As well as being great for composting, the red worms are also attractive to fish and provide a great bait. If you do not have a specialist store nearby, you can also find the worms online at many different retailers. Reproducing your own from an initial batch can be achieved fairly easily with a homemade wormery. However, this adds time to process. It can take two months to double the weight of a batch of worms – although it can be a fun activity to grow a batch of worms, it takes some time!
How many worms are needed for composting?
Deciding how many worms you need for your vermicomposting bin depends largely on how much waste is being added for them to process. The more waste added, the more worms will need to be in there to digest it. By observing the compost pile, you will get a good idea of whether you have the right amount. Vermicomposting – like standard composting – is not an exact science. Some trial-and-error will be needed. If it looks like they are not working their way through the food scraps, you may need to add more. On the other hand, worms may need to be removed if they are munching through the materials quicker than you can add them!
Generally, a worm can produce about half its weight in waste every single day. Approximately a pound of red wrigglers is comprised of 1000 mature worms. So, if you have half a pound of waste every day your bin will need 1000 worms. Do the math to figure out how many your household will need for your worm bin!
The bottom line
Unfortunately, you can’t just pick any old worm from your garden and expect it to compost your household waste. Red worms are the most common variety that people opt for – and as a beginner we would highly recommend these. There is a reason why they are so popular! Although some species are better than others, it is more important to pick the best for your needs and ensure the conditions are right for them to thrive. The red worm could be regarded as the best all-rounder though. Good luck!