Tag Archives: worms in compost tumbler

Earthworms in the Compost: It’s a Good Thing.

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.

Who cares?

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.

Envirocycle full of worms???

In the wintertime, I take my composting efforts indoors to pay attention to the worms.  We had yet another uncharacteristically warm day here (if just one more person says “omg i love global warming lol”…ugh ), so I checked out the composter…full of worms!

It had just rained, and the inside was a bit damp…so my guess is that the earthworms were just looking for warm, moist ground and they found it in there.  They also found a lot of stuff they probably weren’t used to, like a Sun Chips bag trying to degrade, and some paper packaging material that I lazily threw in without ripping it up, just for fun.

I seem to get a fair number of emails talking about worms in the composter…these worms are almost certainly just earthworms (sorry earthworms) and not red wigglers, or composting worms.

Another thing worth noting, is that red wigglers are not the best solution for adding to your compost tumbler.  If your compost is in the early stages of degradation and is quite warm, this may harm the worms.  They’re also kind of picky about airflow, and most likely won’t come in the tumbler to start with.  Lastly, they don’t want their habitat being flipped upside down all the time, and if you’re using the tumbler how it should be used, wigglers won’t stick around for long.