Back in January I made a brief post about my compost tumbler being full of worms…and by worms I don’t mean red wigglers, but earthworms.
Well, I’ve decided it’s time to pay tribute to earthworms again, because they’re often confused with red wigglers and their purposes get mixed up.
Red wigglers are super resilient (e.g. temperature changes, crowding), live in organic material and have a serious appetite…they make the most sense in a full-on vermicomposting setup- anything from a super cheap/simple worm bin to the popular Worm Factory or Worm Inn options. If you put them in with a freshly active compost pile, chances are good they’ll be dead right away or leave altogether.
Earthworms, however, may arrive much later in the composting process:
My tumbler has been sitting “idle” for a couple months now and each time I take a peek, I find earthworms in there. They came up through the bottom of my tumbler and have been burrowing their way through the material, speeding up the end process. Earthworms are soil dwelling worms that will assist in further breaking down of compost into neutral, balanced soil. To have soil dwelling worms in my compost seems like a good indicator of the material at this stage.
So if you’re looking in your compost pile one day and see some worms in there, it’s almost certain they’re earthworms- not suitable for efficient vermicomposting, but perfectly normal for improving your near-finished compost.