Earthworms have a couple of jobs, and depending on your goals you will need to decide what worm is best for you. Earthworms feed on decaying organic matter and produce castings. Worm castings (worm poop) is nitrogen rich, pH balanced, humous that is ready to be absorbed by plants roots immediately. Earthworms are the intestines of the soil and are top soil producers. Beyond soil production, their other job is to tunnel through the ground aerating and mixing the soil as they work. Earthworms are also the “plow of the soil” mixing layers of earth while they eat, tunnel, and deposit their castings. These tunnels allow oxygen and water to reach roots of plants and break up compacted soil for greater root penetration and growth.
Red Worms (eisenia foteida) If your goal is composting and worm casting production, this prolific producer is your worm. Well suited for bin raising, not a candidate for adding directly to soil.
European Nightcrawler (eisenia hortensis) Larger worm that is an excellent for composting and fishing. Well suited for bin raising, not a candidate for adding directly to soil.
Alabama Jumper (amynthas corticis) Large worm that is a powerful aerator. Strong worm that is ideal for adding to garden or soil and can burrow deep in hard packed soil. These worms are deep divers and do a great job of mixing layers of the soil, can be bin raised but are better suited for the soil.
Texas Red Worms raises composting worms (European Nightcrawlers, Red Worms) and garden/aerating worms (Alabama Jumpers) in San Antonio and Livingston Texas. We are here to help you add life to your lawn, garden, pasture with the best fertilizer available, all natural worm castings.
Earthworms are the intestines of the soil and produce humus from decaying organic matter. Let us help you get started raising worms for vermicompost or turning your plot of land into an oasis for aerating fertilizing earthworms.
Worms will eat just about anything they can fit into their tiny mouth, and are the ultimate composter, humus maker, and soil conditioner. The primary feedstock I feed my worms is composted horse and cow manure, yard clippings-leaves, and table scraps (minus dairy and grease). Between feedings I sprinkle my own version of Worm Chow over the top of the bin. This simple recipe is great for fattening up your worms for a fishing trip or just adding some diversity to their diet and your castings. Use for your Alabama Jumpers, Red Worms, European Nightcrawlers, or African Nightcrawlers.
TexasRedWorms.com Worm Chow is:
1 part corn meal
1 part ground up oatmeal
add crushed egg shells for minerals and flavor
I have spent the last couple of weekends harvesting castings from my red worm bins and european nightcrawler bins. I had tried to hold out until after Labor Day, when it’s only 95 outside. The heat can add stress to harvesting castings for you and the worms. Exposed worms can dry out and die quickly.
Loaded down with finished worm castings I was left with little choice. The girls pitched in and really helped speed things. My harvester that was built last winter, really came in handy. We were able to crank through 100+ pounds in no time. The girls picked worms stuck in the harvester screen. On a side note: Use cooking spray on the wire mesh to help keep the worms from sticking.
In picking egg capsules and smaller worms from two separate harvest runs (red worms/ european nightcrawlers), I was surprised at the performance of the nightcrawlers. The cocoon or egg capsule production has definitely slowed down for the red worms compared to other times of the year. Compared to the red worms, the nightcrawlers had about triple the amount of eggs. That’s right, from what I have seen this Summer, the European Nightcrawlers have outperformed red wigglers in reproduction.
This past Winter and Summer have been the most extreme temperatures I have seen since beginning worm farming. The good news is that with a little planning and preparation worms can flourish in just about any part of the country.
Red Worms (Eisenia fetida), European Nightcrawlers (Eisenia hortensis), and African Nightcrawlers (Eudrillus eugeniae), are all excellent composters. These worms vary in size, w/ Red Worms being the smallest and possibly the least picky. Red Worms ease of care and ability to handle a wide range of temperatures make them a popular composting worm.
European and African Nightcrawlers are larger worms. European Nightcrawlers are popular w/ fisherman, due to size. You’ll find their larger cousin (Canadian Nightcrawler) in bait shops, as well. European Nightcrawlers can be used for composting, but thought to be less efficient than Red Wigglers or African Nightcrawlers.
African Nightcrawlers are a tropical worm that thrive in warmer climates, need to be kept in temperatures above 70F and will start to die off at 60F. They are the choice for many commercial worm casting producers that have access to climate controlled facilities. All three species or varieties can be prolific in the right conditions, and make excellent composting worms.
When your worm order arrives here is one way to add them to your garden, raised bed, soil. Your TexasRedWorms.com farm is a great place to raise your worms, but soon you will need to harvest the worms in order to make room for more. You can use all or a portion of your worms. In this example I am adding a box of Alabama Jumpers or as I like to refer to them “Texas Jumpers” to a raised bed I have prepared.
1. Choose a location preferably a shady spot that you can keep somewhat moist. If you are adding to a full sun area be sure to cover with a few inches of mulching material to protect from the sun and to retain moisture. Leaves, newspaper, straw will work fine. Morning or evening are the best time to add your worms.
2. Pre-wet the area you have chosen to prepare a nice moist environment for your worms to settle in.
3. You will need to dig a small hole about the size and depth of the box or container of your worms and contents.
4. Empty contents worms and compost into the hole.
5. Cover with a section of wet newspaper. This will keep the worms cool and protected from drying out giving them an opportunity to settle in to their new home. The Alabama Jumpers will eventually spread out on their own. Red Worms and European Nightcrawlers will stay were they are fed and are not going to spread like the tunneling Jumpers. In the event you are adding Red Worms or European Nightcrawlers you will add a handful of kitchen scraps to the same location you placed your worms every few days. As your worm population grows you will learn how often to feed based on how fast they work through the organic material. The Alabama Jumpers are great for aerating and fertilizing the soil. Red Worms and European Nightcrawlers are better composting worms.
For added protection I covered the newspaper with some leaves. This method is one I have used with success, I have included some other similar worm bed set up links I have used. Have fun and send us ideas. Let us know if you have any questions.
Worm Tubes, Worm Pit, Outdoor Worm Bed, Flow Through Worm Bin.
European Nightcrawlers are now available at TexasRedWorms.com. They can be used for composting just like the red worm, but are a bit larger, stronger and are deeper tunnelers than the top feeding red worm. Red Worms prefer piles of moist decaying organic matter (leaves, manure).
There are many different species of earthworm ranging in size and climate, most can be classified in one of two larger camps. The first being the deeper dwelling tunnelers (European Nightcrawler), and secondly the top feeding composters (Red Worm). A lot of biologists claim that all earthworms have been introduced, from settlers bringing them in potted plants and so forth. I have a hard time with that, but guess it could be possible.
Care for both worms is similar and they can even co-habitate. The nightcrawlers are able to be added directly to your garden, flowerbed, or lawn, while the red worms would not fare so well. The red wigglers are more prolific smaller worm that will not scatter like the European nightcrawler, or Alabama Jumper. Both are well suited for composting and bin raising, and care is identical.
European nightcrawlers are typically what you will find at bait shops, and grow thicker and longer than the red wiggler. Both are active on a hook and will get the fish to bite.