Why We Only Use Tiger Worms
There are several thousand of species of worms throughout the world. Here in the UK the number of native species reduces to a more modest 28.
Now, like plants and most life forms, worms have common names as well as scientific or Latin names. The trouble with common names is that there can be several for the same plant or animal or worm and they can vary over geography, over time and between people. One man's couch grass is another's twitch and one man's mayorstail another's horsetail, or from TV's motor biking chefs - the Hairy Bikers - their swedes are my turnips (and vice versa)!
This is why we do also need occasionally to revert to the proper or Latin names to be clear and beyond doubt!!
Back to worms!
Well of the 28 species native to the UK the most commonly known is not surprisingly, the common earth worm (Lumbricus terrestris). This worm lives in the upper layers of mineral soil, is an excellent aerator and soil improver all over the garden except alas the lawn where it leaves behind it's tell tale piles of casts ready to be flattened into a bald spot by your lawn mower. But they are not composting worms and not much good in a Wormery.
So which worms are best for a Wormery?
The short answer:-
There are three native species of worm which are all good at the rapid processing of dead organic waste into nutrient rich compost these are:-
1) The Tiger worm, aka the Brandling worm. Proper name Eisenia fetida
2) The Bluenose worm, aka Dendobaena and the European night crawler and by some as Eisenia hortensis. Proper name Dendrobaena veneta
3) The Redworm, aka the red wiggler and the Brandling worm. Proper name Eisenia andrei
All are good and will work well in your wormery. But, if forced under the bright TV lights to open that Golden envelope and announce the overall winner of best Wormery worm, then without doubt for adaptability, conditions tolerance, versatility and composting rate the answer is..... The Tiger Worm.
Eisenia fetida - would you please come to the rostrum to accept your award!
For those who want a little more information, the slightly longer answer is :-
Our choice of worms, from species to size and from numbers to weight supplied comes from years of research, including financing a PhD research studentship. We decided upon Eisenia fetida (Foetida) or Tiger Worms after extensive research, both empirical, commissioned and literature based. In particular we took advice from Dr. Jim Fredrickson of the Open University (an internationally acknowledged worm expert).
Some more Worm and Wormery facts
1) Tiger worms are a little more expensive and significantly but not overwhelmingly better than Dendrobaena in Wormeries.
2) Young worms are preferable (hungrier!) to older worms.
3) When it comes to composting - the condition, age, size and species of worm is more important than their weight.
4) Tiger worms reach sexual maturity (they are hermaphrodite) in approx 6 weeks.
5) We provide approx 300 small, young, mostly sexually mature (well spoken, polite and happy!) tiger worms with each Tiger Wormery.
6) Dendrobaena are more widely available than Tigers as there is an established 'cottage' industry breeding them for anglers who hook them up as bait. They are also easier to harvest and are ususally cheaper.
7) Wormeries are slow to start up largely because the worms can't eat the nice fresh stuff most of us put in the bin. It needs a few weeks of initial microbial decomposition to have occurred before they can ingest the waste - not even Tiger worms have teeth! So they may take a week or so to settle into their feeding and breeding cycle.