After a rainstorm or maybe a generous watering of your garden, you’ll notice these little buggers surfacing from seemingly nowhere. In fact, earthworm populations have been shown to increase plant growth and health in independent studies (source).
In addition to aerating the soil, their tunnels also create routes through which water can percolate through the substrate, aiding in proper hydration of all of your garden fruits, veggies, and ornamentals. The benefits of red worms (Luxurious rubella) for gardens are, admittedly, nearly identical to those of earthworms (nightcrawlers).
These worms are much slenderer than the nightcrawler, are redder in hue, and are generally smaller in overall body size. However, even though the benefits will be largely the same when compared to the nightcrawler, red worms are better equipped to work and live in your compost bin or pile more than they are for your in-ground soil.
Red wigglers are excellent consumers of organic kitchen waste and provide incredibly nutrient-rich worm castings which you can use in your garden or potted plants. There are both advantages and disadvantages to keeping red worms and nightcrawlers together in the same living space.
Although it is possible to do so, there are some details to consider before you make your final decision, including the size of the worms and the container, the type of organic matter you will be using, and whether the compost bin/pile will be open to the air or closed. The two are adapted for different environmental conditions, so it can be quite tricky to keep them together in the same container or composting system.
However, with some creativity and care, you can make the perfect setup for both worms to be comfortable and thriving. Additionally, if you are keeping nightcrawlers in a composting system, you will need a much larger containment setup than you would with red worms.
Both species would have access to conditions optimal for each of them: the nightcrawlers would be able to burrow deeply into the soil, as they can either burrow into the ground soil or deeper into the compost mix (since the openness of the container or pile allows for a large collection of compost/organic matter). Keep in mind that, if you do mix the two species in one compost pile, you will need to add them at different depths.
In fact, don’t be surprised if you find earthworms showing up on their own in the lower parts of your compost pile. The one word of caution I would offer with this is that you should probably use the pile in a “cold” compost method, meaning not turning it very often if at all.
It is possible for earthworms and red worms to live together but each would require certain conditions in order for their needs to be met. If you could provide a deep soil environment for the earthworms while ensuring shallow-soil feedings of the red worms then you could have the best of both worlds and be rewarded with a bountiful garden.
I did have 1 bed with nightcrawlers back then and every so often, I would find a few NC’s in the other box surrounded by the smaller worms. Never found any dead ones, so I don’t know if it was “look there’s big brother or if they were trying to kill it as a territorial invader.
Ideally, I would like to combine them to have some for fishing and yet keep up the voracious disposal speed of the Reds. I used to try and keep it just a touch acidic to neutral range, 6.8-7.0 and had decent results.
I was reading some research papers the other day about the concerns of the introduction of exotic (foreign) earthworm species into American land. I’m not going to go into the environmental and ecological risks in detail, but a section mentions that “There is evidence that native earthworm populations can coexist with exotic earthworms and in some instances may have an advantage if the site is not highly disturbed” (James, 1991; Dotson and Kali, 1989; Callahan and Blair, 1999; Callahan ET.
This is for the benefit of the European Nightcrawler because they are larger, worth more by the pound, and they also breed slower. The two type of worms have quite different characteristics in terms of birth cycles, environment adaptability and sexual maturation.
On the other hand, European Nightcrawlers do not grow as rapidly, but is more robust and can adapt to a wider moisture range. So with more red wigglers around it will lower the chances of European Night crawlers finding their mate to breed.
Worms do the clever thing in being able to control their population, which means another limitation for the chances of European night crawlers to proliferate. So to conclude, separating the two species is the best way to go if you’re breeding (doesn’t matter as much if you’re only thinking of composting).
Red wigglers and nightcrawlers are two species of worms you can use on your farm to maintain and/or increase the fertility of plants’ soil. This is because nightcrawlers solely depend on the soil for all the nutrients they need to survive.
They also fancy their solitary underground homes, which is one of the reasons they love to travel down deep into the soil. As they dig their way through, they eat dirt and, in the process, leave behind what is called “worm castings”.
Nightcrawlers makes deep burrows that can aerate the soil and allow your plants’ root to properly absorb the oxygen they need to stay healthy and keep growing. Red wigglers mainly feed on manure and rotting plant matter.
These worm castings are made up of important nutrients (like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and nitrogen) that can improve the structure of your plants’ soil. As mentioned earlier, earthworms love solitary, which is why these fascinating creatures can burrow as deep as six inches into the soil to enjoy this solitude.
The deep tunnels they create in the process serve as efficient channels through which oxygen is allowed to flow through to the plants’ root structure. The burrows they make also creates a better environment in which the microorganisms can assist in the growth of your plants.
For example, red wigglers prefer to feed on decaying soil matter (like fallen leaves and animal wastes) and manures instead of in-ground composts, as opposed to earthworms. In this process, they also release castings (as do earthworms, too), which can highly contribute to the nutrients level of your plants soil.
However, red worms can also aerate your plants’ soil to allow the easy absorption of water, oxygen, and other necessary nutrients you decide to use in your garden. As a fully organic indoor gardener, you must understand the importance of naturally maintained fertile soil structure all year round, without having to use toxic chemicals.
This is why you might want to use vermicomposting to better sustain and also increase the soil nutrients your plants depend on for optimal growth. Vermicomposting, in simple words, refers to the use of worms, and other microorganisms, to convert dead or decaying organic matter into fertile nutrients for your soil.
Not just any type of worms, but those that particularly feed on decomposing organic matter as food for their survival. Interestingly, worms can also help in breaking down the nutritional elements contained in the soil to make it easier for your plants to absorb them for their survival.
As mentioned earlier, red wigglers and earthworms differ slightly in their environmental preferences. The conditions under which a red worm may thrive can be a bit different from that under which nightcrawlers can adapt.
When you mix red worms and common earthworms together, you might want to expect a more efficient vermicomposting system on your farm with each species contributing differently to the growth of your plants. Red wigglers, on the other hand, will be more efficient in converting fallen leaves into soil nutrients your plants largely thrive on for optimal growth.
Nightcrawlers is deep diggers, while, on the other hand, redwigglerscan be found within only a few inches to the soil surface. This means, one species will be more comfortable than the other depending on the living condition you’re able to create for them in your garden.
Since red worms are smaller, they can easily be kept in higher density than their counterparts, earthworms. You may have to integrate some conditions in your garden to keep your nightcrawlers alive and also ensure the sustainable growth of your plants all at the same time.
Worms, generally, need calcium for survival and the continuous supply of this element will ensure they thrive properly on your farm. Earthworm feeds on soil and largely on dead and decaying organic matter.
Toxic chemicals like fungicides and ammonium sulfate can seriously injure and reduce the number of worms. So, to prevent this, you can reduce, or stop, the use of fertilizers and fungicides that can harm the worms as well as your plants.
You only just have to do what is necessary: plant your crops, water them regularly, and the worms will do the rest of the job to ensure you have a fruitful farming season.