A Bibliography

Skip introduction: take me to The Books

The following is a list of books which I have read over the last five years or so, dealing with the culturing, and utilization of the red worm. In these books may be found a fair amount of useful information, as well as a fair amount of material which is best taken with a grain of salt. The best suggestion I can offer you is to read as many as you can find, make note of the various contradictions (a tremendous amount), and then simply compare for yourself to see what works best for you in your particular circumstances.

There are a few things I feel obligated to point out, however, simply because these particular items tend to result in a disproportionate amount of trouble for the new "breeder". By alerting you to these issues now, I can hopefully save you a great deal of confusion in the future. With that in mind, let us begin.

First of all, when purchasing your initial supply of worms, beware of ads which offer hybrids for sale. The term "hybrid" implies that worms of two or more different varieties have been cross-bred, resulting in off-spring which are in some way superior to their parents. This type of genetic manipulation, as far as I know, has not yet been done with worms, and it is more likely that the breeder who offers such a product simply is not sure of which particular variety he is selling. Though there are indeed differences between the various species of worms, those you buy for vermicomposting will usually be Eisenia Foetida, Lumbricus Rubellus, or one or two others. The danger in buying so-called "hybrids" is not in the worms, but in the seller of the worms. If the breeder is disreputable enough to make false claims as to the nature of his product, do you really want to deal with that person?

In the area of "how much moisture is enough moisture", sooner or later, you will run into the statement: "The bedding in your worm bin should be as wet as a wrung-out sponge." This will inevitably result in the new breeder overwatering his worm bin, which in turn will promote anaerobic conditions, which is the usual culprit responsible for any foul odors which tend to arise. (A properly-maintained worm bed will have no odor.) The reason for this error in judgement is that when the new vermicomposter sees the dry material at the top of the worm bed, it is not always obvious that this is not representative of the entire amount of bedding. The actual case is that the bin will always be somewhat dry on the surface (unless you keep it covered with burlap or something similar), and progressively damper as you approach the bottom. The worms will simply settle into the level with the most suitable moisture content. Thus, before adding water, make sure the bed needs it. (A moisture tester of the sort used for potted plants is very useful.)

At any rate, as I noted earlier, there are many, many contradictions which you will come across as the number of books which you read increases. Rather than try and fit all these things into this one article, I would first suggest that you simply remain a little skeptical until you have tried any recommended procedure, and if it is possible, try any new procedure on a sample population of worms first. If this is not possible, and you are still a little wary, check back here to see if it might be covered in any of the articles I have managed to complete for this page, or drop me some e-mail stating what it is you wish to know. I will either have the answer for you, or I will try to direct you to someone who does. And now....

The Books

(Those in bold type are highly recommended.)

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