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It's time for an update based on my experience with the EH's.  I'll be honest, I'm disappointed.

I have been composting with worms for almost 3 years in my home.  I started with 1 lb of eisenia foetida and in a two year period I grew that amount to more than 19 lbs. I supplemented my composting efforts with rabbit manure purchased locally from a rabbit farmer to help multiply my worm population faster. If you have lots of worms you also need lots of food for them :-)

After our move from Florida to Michigan, I started my worm composting efforts over from scratch with 1 lb. of eisenia hortensis worms.  If you have never compared the two worms up close here's a quick description based on my experience and observations.

EF's

  • 2-3 inches long
  • small and skinny worm
  • eat almost anything
  • tendancy to ball up and group together in the bedding
  • multiply quickly, 1 lb can double in size within a couple of months
  • will compost and reproduce well in temperatures up to 100 degrees air temperature
  • lots of room for error in bedding, they will tolerate poor bedding conditions for short periods of time

EH's

  • 5-6 inches long (even longer when extended)
  • fatter worm than EF's
  • a very active worm compared to EF's
  • do not multiply as quickly as EF's, 1 lb can double in size in 5 or 6 months
  • tendancy to roam and will escape if conditions do not suit them
  • favor cooler temperatures
  • favor lots of neutral material in their bedding
  • do not like bedding that heats up
  • do not like bedding that is too wet, but they seem to tolerate it for short periods
  • appear to do well in paper and cardboard bedding with small amounts of food material
  • less desireable for home composting, but marginally acceptable for a two person household

I have no immediate plans to switch back to eisenia foetida for my home composting efforts, but if I do decide to get back into the business of selling worms to other home composting enthusiasts on a small scale I will add EF's back into the equation. (If my EH's don't start eating more I may change my mind.)

This article originally appeared on my gardening blog:  BackyardUrbanGardening.com

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