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PostPosted: Thu Sep 16, 2010 12:03 pm 
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Location: Berkeley, CA
I'm considering ordering some EHs from Bob at Trinity Ranch (or possibly David & Chris at Earthworms 4 Sale) and was collecting information on the species. Below is what I've culled from the archives here and other places. There was quite a flurry of discussion on these guys in early 2006. I'd appreciate it if anyone can add anything. It would help me set up the new wormery properly. With the exception of cooler bin temps (60-65F) and wetter bedding, it sounds like I'll set things up pretty much the same as I did for my African nightcrawlers.
• 6-8" of damp egg carton/cardboard bedding with a sprinkling of VC
• secure lid (around the edges) with 1/16" screening for ventilation
• nightlight on top of the lid to discourage wanderers

Although most of the quotes below support the very little scientific data that is available, there are clearly very strong anecdotal accounts from worm farmers who disputed the low reproductive rates reported by the scientists. I think it is a classic apples vs oranges kerfuffle. The scientists were studying worms to process cattle manure and the worm farmers were providing very different environments and food stock for their Euros. Of course the results would be different.

Kelly S.: "Doctors Adrian Reinecke and Sophie Viljoen conducted detailed studies on the reproduction and maturation rates and environmental requirements of this species in the early 1990s, which confirmed studies conducted on this species by Dr. Clive Edwards in the late 1980s. The researchers found D. veneta to be a large worm with a low reproductive rate and slow maturity rate compared to Eisenia fetida, Perionyx excavatus and Eudrilus eugeniae; findings which suggest this species is the least suitable for vermicomposting of those studied. Even so, D. veneta (reclassified by taxonomists to the genus and species Eisenia hortensis) has demonstrated some value in vermicomposting. Studies demonstrate that this species performs better in excessively wet environments than the other species used for vermicomposting, leading to its use in some large-scale European vermiprocessing systems remediating paper sludges."

"Some U.S. worm growers have become fans of Dendrobaena veneta and dispute the research data, believing the worm to reproduce and grow as rapidly as Eisenia fetida in their vermiculture and vermicomposting systems. Their observations are compelling and, coupled with the great size of this worm, are likely responsible in part for the sudden popularity of the species."

"E. hortensis, which is a slow-growing worm species even in its ideal environment of high moisture and temps between 60-65?F...is more easily stressed by lower moisture levels...Heat tolerance is dependant on moisture level. This worm is very tolerant of environmental fluctuation and handling, but has a slower reproductive rate and requires very high moisture levels, relative to other worm species."


RedHen: "I started raising ENC's over a year ago, just to see if they would thrive in a bin situation. They do not reproduce at the same rate as the EF's, (they are slower). I notice that the ENC's like things cooler. If the temps get above about 70, they get kind of melty and very slow. I am raisng them at 60F and they are doing really well. They also seem to like it wetter, which in a plastic bin, is easier to have happen. I started with 2 lbs and the original gang went through trial and tribulation, and I was not too sure about how they were going to do. I started feeding them more often (and think they actually eat more, and faster than the EF's) and put them in a cooler temperature situation. Things started looking up."..."When I get new worms I do make food (steamed) very soft for them, so there is food immediately for all. Food, good cool temperature and very damp bedding should get you and your new pals off to a good start."

chuckiebtoo: "...without light they are gonna crawl."

flyboy: "I got three pounds of euros late last fall. I have them in a 10 Gal Rubbermaid tub. I have never seen the cocoon density in my red worm bin like I see in my euro bin. I feed them every couple of weeks and leave them alone."

Deanna: "I don't know if you have access to fall leaves, but ENC's are eager consumers of them. Also, they tend to like the bin wetter and a little cooler than the reds."

stevemc: "They eat like hogs. My redworms rarely light into food the way the encs do. I have been giving them some coffee grounds with fruit and veggie scraps and a light dusting of corn meal. They do not wait for the macro herd to prepare it for them..the just seem to start eating."

wtman: "I didnt put anything in there new home except shredded newspaper ( confetti style) for the first couple of weeks, but i will say this, they absolutley thrived in the shredded paper alone. you will have no doubt about the castings either, its not hard to tell their castings from the compost like the ef's."

thinwhite: "E. Hortensis was my first attempt at vermiculture, and I found them to be very easy creatures to deal with. I actually started out with 270 (yep, 270) worms that I bought locally for fishing...I did find at first that they did have a tendency to roam - especially after I harvest the castings. I raise the Euros, E. Fetida, Georgia Jumpers, and African Night Crawlers. I've found that all of these critters just LOVE to roam after a harvest...HOWEVER, with the Worm Factory, although I had problems with worms dropping out of the bottom tray and into the leachate collection bin, I hardly EVER had one crawl out of the top... Amongst all the species I raise, I've also found them the most likely to dig into a pile of dead leaves and grass clippings with gusto. The other species WILL eat these foods, but none do so with the enthusiasm of the Hortensis'."

Bentley at redwormcomposting: "They have a lower rate of reproduction and take considerably longer to mature. That being said, I’ve been told they can be more tolerant of poor bin conditions and low food levels – more apt to stay put as compared to red worms...they seem to like manure a lot more than food scraps."

Jeff at friendlywormguy (in cold Canada): "My beds are 8″-12″ in depth...the reds are composting in the top 3-4″. The Euros are composting from 4-12″ levels of my composting worm beds. All I had read about the euros, and their want to crawl, out of the beds, bins etc. Is wrong in my opinion, I have had alot more problems with the Red Wigglers crawling, then I have ever had with the European N/C. On another note: It is hard to kill Euros...The Euros take change in their environments better then the Reds do."

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Last edited by plumiebear on Sun Oct 03, 2010 3:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 16, 2010 1:25 pm 
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Hi Andrew,

I have ENC's. Mine get wanderlust every evening, and there will be hordes of them on the lids and sides of the bins. They're not trying to get out of the bin - there are holes in my bins, and if they wanted out, they could definitely get out very easily. Maybe they come up for air in the evenings; who knows the mind of a worm??? I agree with the person who said they hang out in the bottom of the bin - that they do, for whatever reason. I don't know why they tend to prefer the lower parts of the bins - maybe it's wetter and cooler.

I haven't noticed any particular temperature preferences, but all my bins are in the house, so they're always whatever temperature the house is.

They're very good at processing leaves - better than EF's, possibly because they're a bigger worm. So I really like my ENC's for that reason, since my bedding is comprised of a mix of shredded leaves and horse manure. I couldn't say if they reproduce faster than the EF's because I have thousands of both, so they seem to me to be reproducing pretty well. :D

Last year I had health issues going on, and for several months my worms didn't get fed properly nor harvested in a timely fashion. The ENC's survived this neglect much better than the EF's or the Africans. When I did get around to harvesting, when I first started poking around, I'd think there weren't many worms in there, but when I got to the bottom, there'd be lots of ENC's down there, even looking fat and feisty! With the exception of one bin that was a bit on the dry side, and there were NO worms left in it.

I got my ENC's from Bob at Trinity, and I recommend him highly. He's an older guy, and doesn't necessarily answer emails right away, but he's very obliging when you call him on the phone if you have questions. Which I'm sure you won't have questions since you're an experienced wormer. However, I had never raised worms before when I bought from him, and he was very helpful.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 16, 2010 3:41 pm 
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I also raise ENC's. They do seem to breed alot slower than EF's. I have tried using more moisture but have found that they are more likely to roam in larger numbers when I do.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 17, 2010 11:42 am 
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Location: Berkeley, CA
gardenfanatic wrote:
I have ENC's. Mine get wanderlust every evening, and there will be hordes of them on the lids and sides of the bins. They're not trying to get out of the bin - there are holes in my bins, and if they wanted out, they could definitely get out very easily. Maybe they come up for air in the evenings; who knows the mind of a worm???

Hi, Deanna. Yup, it's tough to know what drives the wrigglers to do what they do. Are your EEs also taking evening strolls? Are you using RM-type bins? I'm wondering if my totally ventilated lid (1/16" screen) prevents condensation from forming on the sides and the worms don't want to crawl up there. I still leave a night light on to discourage them, but I might try turning that off one night to see if I get any signs of crawlers on the sides.

Quote:
They're very good at processing leaves - better than EF's, possibly because they're a bigger worm. So I really like my ENC's for that reason, since my bedding is comprised of a mix of shredded leaves and horse manure. I couldn't say if they reproduce faster than the EF's because I have thousands of both, so they seem to me to be reproducing pretty well. :D

That's good to know. The research data clearly shows lower reproductive rates, but so many anecdotal accounts say otherwise. I also like using leaves as bedding. Manure takes a bit more effort to obtain, but I may make another trip to the stables.

Quote:
I got my ENC's from Bob at Trinity, and I recommend him highly. He's an older guy, and doesn't necessarily answer emails right away, but he's very obliging when you call him on the phone if you have questions. Which I'm sure you won't have questions since you're an experienced wormer.

Although I've had EFs for many years, I really don't consider my self an experienced wormer. I neglected my squirm for the most part until this past year. I certainly don't have any experience with EHs. I'll line up some questions and give Bob a call.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 17, 2010 12:56 pm 
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mikel wrote:
I also raise ENC's. They do seem to breed alot slower than EF's.

mikel, are you doing anything different with the ENCs? Bigger bins? Cooler location? Different bedding or food? Also, how long have you had them? I'm wondering if a well established ENC bin left mostly undisturbed will be more productive.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 17, 2010 4:36 pm 
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I have had these for a little over 5 months started with a pound. I mainly got these for fishing but after it started getting real hot I decided to see if I could get their numbers back up from fishing.
I keep these in the house. I'm in my thirties and like it cold in the house. For bedding I use newspaper, cardboard(from boxes), drink cup holders, brown paper bags, toilet paper cores and paper towel cores all of these are shredded. I feed rabbit feed mixed with eggshells daily, I add rotting fruit from time to time like peaches and strawberries. This was my third attempt on ENC's before finally getting it right. The other two attempts were in my garage and both times when the temps climbed they started dying off.

I started this batch with 393 worms fished with probably more than half of them, sold a few cups to friends. Last count 2 weeks ago- 269 good sized worms, 59 baby worms and 8 cocoons that I saw. So that is 328 worms which is not far from where I started at.

On a side note when I used to raise EE's I never had a problem with them wandering at night. This may have been due to using a wooden bed though.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 18, 2010 1:18 pm 
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mikel wrote:
I have had these for a little over 5 months started with a pound...I keep these in the house. I'm in my thirties and like it cold in the house. For bedding I use newspaper, cardboard(from boxes), drink cup holders, brown paper bags, toilet paper cores and paper towel cores all of these are shredded. I feed rabbit feed mixed with eggshells daily, I add rotting fruit from time to time like peaches and strawberries...I started this batch with 393 worms fished with probably more than half of them, sold a few cups to friends. Last count 2 weeks ago- 269 good sized worms, 59 baby worms and 8 cocoons that I saw. So that is 328 worms which is not far from where I started at.

Thanks for the details, mikel. It sounds like they do fairly well in the reproduction department if the temps are cool enough. I'm not going to take any of mine fishing, but I'll probably share some with friends and family once the squirm fills out the bin a little. I'm thinking of getting 2 lbs. to put into a 3.6 ft² aquarium. Hopefully they do as well as yours and I can start taking some out after a few months.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 18, 2010 2:46 pm 
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As a result of having some left over from my kids' fishing trip (I won't use mine-- I buy the bait; I laugh at myself that it seems worse to use my own worms) recently, I had 16 ENCs in need of a home. I decided to set up a small bin for them so I could observe how quickly the reproduce. I had left the worms sitting in their bait cup for several days prior to putting them into their own bin, so when I started, it was with 16 breeders and 15 cocoons. They'd been busy in that bait cup! I don't think one of those worms should count, though, as it was not even 2 inches long. It has a clitellum, but I don't see how it's long enough to do what it needs to with another worm in order to make cocoons. At any rate, I'm looking forward to seeing how that bin does over the next couple months.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2010 12:39 pm 
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Location: Berkeley, CA
RoseGrower wrote:
As a result of having some left over from my kids' fishing trip (I won't use mine-- I buy the bait; I laugh at myself that it seems worse to use my own worms) recently, I had 16 ENCs in need of a home. I decided to set up a small bin for them so I could observe how quickly the reproduce...At any rate, I'm looking forward to seeing how that bin does over the next couple months.

RoseGrower, I notice from archived discussions that you also use old leaves as bedding/food for your worms. Have you, like Deanna, also noticed that EHs process leaves faster than EFs? Any general impressions on EH's rate of reproduction vs EFs or EEs if you have them.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2010 3:46 pm 
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Plumiebear,
I set this bin up on the 14th, so no observations to share yet aside from the fact that they'd sure created a lot of cocoons in the bait cup while waiting for me to put them into a bin. I can say that, from what I see in my bins, the EFs greatly prefer manure to leaves. As for the EEs, I'm beginning to think that they greatly prefer leaves to manure. Figures! I'll just have to wait and see on the EHs. I've got some leaves soaking right now and the EHs and EEs will be getting those later today or tomorrow.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2010 8:06 pm 
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Location: Berkeley, CA
RoseGrower wrote:
Plumiebear, I set this bin up on the 14th, so no observations to share yet aside from the fact that they'd sure created a lot of cocoons in the bait cup while waiting for me to put them into a bin. I can say that, from what I see in my bins, the EFs greatly prefer manure to leaves. As for the EEs, I'm beginning to think that they greatly prefer leaves to manure. Figures! I'll just have to wait and see on the EHs.

My apologies, RG. I wasn't sure which species you were currently raising. It seems like you've wanted to try EHs for some time. :D I've been reading old posts.

Speaking of old posts...I edited my original post to include a few more quotes from 2008:
Deanna: "I don't know if you have access to fall leaves, but ENC's are eager consumers of them. Also, they tend to like the bin wetter and a little cooler than the reds."

stevemc: "They eat like hogs. My redworms rarely light into food the way the encs do. I have been giving them some coffee grounds with fruit and veggie scraps and a light dusting of corn meal. They do not wait for the macro herd to prepare it for them..the just seem to start eating."

wtman: "I didnt put anything in there new home except shredded newspaper ( confetti style) for the first couple of weeks, but i will say this, they absolutley thrived in the shredded paper alone. you will have no doubt about the castings either, its not hard to tell their castings from the compost like the ef's."

thinwhite: "E. Hortensis was my first attempt at vermiculture, and I found them to be very easy creatures to deal with. I actually started out with 270 (yep, 270) worms that I bought locally for fishing...I did find at first that they did have a tendency to roam - especially after I harvest the castings. I raise the Euros, E. Fetida, Georgia Jumpers, and African Night Crawlers. I've found that all of these critters just LOVE to roam after a harvest...HOWEVER, with the Worm Factory, although I had problems with worms dropping out of the bottom tray and into the leachate collection bin, I hardly EVER had one crawl out of the top... Amongst all the species I raise, I've also found them the most likely to dig into a pile of dead leaves and grass clippings with gusto. The other species WILL eat these foods, but none do so with the enthusiasm of the Hortensis'."

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2010 9:06 pm 
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Andrew,
Most of my worms are EFs. I also have some EEs and a small bin of PEs that came mixed into an order of EFs. I actually did have a very small herd of EHs once but haven't had a EH bin for some time now. I came across a couple of cocoons outside and I thought I'd put them in a container and see what hatched. Turns out it was some EHs. I had those for a while but it never grew to be much of a herd. Eventually I ended up mixing them into a bin of EFs so I had one less bin to hassle with. I think there might still be a few in there. Anyway, this time around I'm hoping to grow this handful into a real herd. If nothing else, I'll have them for the kids to use next spring for fishing.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 20, 2010 9:49 pm 
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RoseGrower wrote:
Anyway, this time around I'm hoping to grow this handful into a real herd. If nothing else, I'll have them for the kids to use next spring for fishing.

RG, have you seen Eve's mini-bin with mostly EHs? Those RedVine containers are a good size for small squirms.
http://vermicomposters.ning.com/photo/mini-bin?context=album&albumId=2094123%3AAlbum%3A70576

http://vermicomposters.ning.com/photo/the-worms-burrowing-in?xg_source=activity

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 7:15 pm 
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plumiebear wrote:
I'm considering ordering some EHs from Bob at Trinity Ranch (or possibly David & Chris at Earthworms 4 Sale)

It took me a couple of weeks, but I finally placed an order for EHs. I must have had a brain spasm or something...maybe UrbannGuerilla's 20 lbs. of EF/PEs got me thinking of big gobs of worms. Whatever the reason, FIVE POUNDS of EHs should be on their way from David & Chris sometime tomorrow. I'll post photos and an unpacking video after I receive the worms.

I'm actually bracing myself for a letdown after the massive gob of worms I received from my first online worm order (500 EEs). I'm not sure I can imagine more worm meat than that all in one pile.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 06, 2010 9:54 pm 
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The worms arrived today...well over 6 lbs. of actively squirming EH. They quickly started exploring all four corners of the aquarium and are now happily munching on their first feeding of worm chow. These guys travel very well. No jet lag whatsoever. They seem to be much more sensitive to a normal flashlight beam compared to EEs. Fortunately I can observe them using a red lamp.
Image
Image

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2010 10:14 pm 
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The Euros seemed a little crowded in the aquarium, so I transferred ~1 lbs. to a plastic tote. If they settle nicely in that, I'll move another pound into another tote. While I was moving material and worms I easily spotted some cocoons. They're a bit larger than EF cocoons, but what made them easy to spot was their color: an almost fluorescent yellow/lime. It's probably just me, but I find these easier to find than either EF or EE cocoons.
Image

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 11:04 am 
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Hello, I have ENC's for 6 or more years & I have Wooden Bins & 1 Wigwam Flo-Thru.. The ENC Worm is Versatile.. A great composter and a great fishing worm too.. my wooden bins I have one 8ft.x3ft.x1.1/2 ft deep,-- another 8ft.x1.1/2ft.x1.1/2 deep-- 2,5ftx1.1/2ft.x1.1/2 deep--& a 6ftx1.1/2x2ft.deep so I have 5 wooden bins & one Flo Thru..all my worms were big when I got them & I got a lot of Eggs from them too.. I feed them all with a Slurry of Blended food & half of a bowl of Alfalfa meal.. now I have a lot of small & mediam size worms--It's a lot of work but it keeps young.. I tried feeding them Worm food that I bought on line it cost me with the S/H $30.00 for 9lbs. of food but the mix was great the worms loved the stuff..Geoffrey


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2012 10:56 pm 
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Geoffrey, I bought Purina Earthworm Chow at a feed store for $18/50 lbs.


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