Written by Gwen Freeman.
Recycling food scraps through composting is a great way to reduce house waste. It even provides the added benefit of organic fertilisers which can then be used to enhance gardens. However, waiting for the scraps to decay naturally through bacterial action is not very efficient. If you want to make the process go faster, then you need to get help from voracious composting worms. Below are some of the best ones that you can use to make garden compost:
This is the top choice of many experienced gardeners. Since they are so popular, a lot of stores sell red wigglers around the US. You will probably like them, too. They are hardy creatures that can survive in a wide range of temperatures and environmental conditions. They can reproduce quickly such that colonies can sustain themselves with minimal care. These are fairly small with adults growing to about 5cm long. Each one of them is a hermaphrodite which means they have male and female sex organs. Mating is still necessary, however, with the pair exchanging seminal fluids. Their offspring develop inside cocoons until these are ready to hatch.
Nightcrawlers are good options for making compost as well but their preference for cooler temperatures means that they are more suited to the northern regions. They are excellent in producing compost as long as you feed them well. The downside is that they tend to reproduce less quickly so you will need more patience with your worm farm. These tend to grow larger than red wigglers so they are often used as bait for fishing. They are slightly more expensive per pound as well.
The Indian Blue has the opposite environmental preference. These worms thrive in places that are moist and warm such as in the tropical regions of the south. They may have a hard time reproducing or even surviving if brought to a cold place. Note that these also have a sensitivity to barometric pressure. Indian Blue worms have the interesting tendency to try to escape their container when they sense an incoming thunderstorm. Special worm bags have been designed to prevent them from running away while allowing them to breathe and eat well. They are about the same size as red wigglers.
Most composting worms stay at or near the surface of the soil to feast on decaying matter. These nightcrawlers can go a bit deeper than many thanks to their large bodies. Its worm castings have a pleasing granular appearance. The downside of using these is that they need warm temperatures to survive. They can start dying off if the mercury reaches 60 degree Fahrenheit. Those living in colder climates will need environmental control to keep them alive.