Can You Mix Red Wigglers And African Nightcrawlers

Carole Stephens
• Friday, 11 December, 2020
• 7 min read

Red wigglers and nightcrawlers are two species of worms toucan use on your farm to maintain and/or increase the fertility of plants’ soil. They also fancy their solitary underground homes, which is one of the reasons they love to travel down deep into the soil.

worm worms composting midwest european nightcrawlers why wigglers
(Source: midwestworms.com)


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.

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 toucan see, from the benefits mentioned above, worms can be an extremely rich addition to your garden.

composting worm compost worms vermicomposting bin guide garden way infographic own fix gardening farm sure fire vermicompost soil fertilizer into
(Source: wastelandrebel.com)

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 adapt. When couriered 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.

Buying both nightcrawlers and redwigglerscan be more expensive than just purchasing one of the worm species. 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, toucan reduce, or stop, the use of fertilizers and fungicides that can harm the worms as well as your plants.

The Canadian Nightcrawler is a soil dwelling worm that is very popular for fishing due to its large size and the relative ease with which it can be collected (especially at night, during or after a heavy summer rain shower). What many people don’t realize however is that this species is not very well suited for life in a confined worm bin.

They come up to the surface (typically at night) to feed and to mate, but most of their time is spent burrowing through the soil. This species of worm is adapted for a crowded life in very rich organic matter, such as that found in a manure pile (pretty well their ideal habitat).

Normally, people are interested in mixing red wigglers, European nightcrawlers, Africannightcrawlers, and possibly Indian Blues. You Want To Mix Species to Vermicompost at Different Depths In general, European nightcrawlers are believed to burrow a little deeper than red wigglers and Indian blues and Africannightcrawlers are believed to burrow a little deeper than Euros, so the thinking is that a more uniform processing of waste is more likely with more species.

European nightcrawlers generally enjoy slightly cooler temperatures than red wigglers would find ideal. So it might make sense to include a variety of species so if you have weather patterns like Philadelphia which goes from well digger's ass cold to Satan's armpit-level hot and muggy in an instant.

Worms are excellent self-regulators and will slow their reproduction when the population density reaches a certain level, ultimately maxing out at 2-3 lbs per square foot (maybe a bit more), depending on the conditions in the bin. It's More Expensive to Buy Multiple Species Purchasing two breeds normally means two packages from your supplier.

Although similar in form and function to a red wiggler, the Indian Blue mixes its voracious composting ability with an annoying tendency to attempt a mass escape from the bin for seemingly no reason. There is absolutely nothing wrong with multiple species in a worm bin, but I can 't find a compelling reason to say you should.

Of the arguments for intentionally introducing mixed breeds in your bin, the depth issue is the most convincing. So while I fully support anyone who is experimenting with different breeds, there's nothing screaming at me that says it's a better way to vermicompost and the purported upside to me just doesn't outweigh the added cost.

I haven’t really spent much time talking about different composting worms, so I think our readers will find this interesting. Under ideal conditions this species can process wastes very quickly and also has a very high rate of growth and reproduction.

In fact, Dominguez et al. (2001) found that Surplus Eugenia outperformed Eugenia fetid at 25 C (77 F) in trials using cattle manure as feedstock. The authors suggest that this species along with Period excavates (Blue Worm) are well-suited for vermicomposting systems in tropical regions.

That being said, this species seems to be fairly popular among bait farmers in North America due to its rapid growth and larger (than E. fetid) size. I asked Alan Hanson, co-owner of Blue Ridge Permaculture (breeder of European and AfricanNightcrawlers), about the ‘handling’ issues with ANCs, and he mentioned that aside from some tendency to roam after harvesting they were generally a fairly easy-to-manage worm.

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.

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