Since im new to this forum as well as to permaculture in general, your help wuld be much appreciated!
1.Im thinking of buying land (so im not restricted by size of property) in Taiwan, where the climate will be subtropical which i assume is good habitat for earthworms.
2. I want to try out methods similar to BTE for permaculture,In particular mulching and composting 3. In the process of mulching, I would need earthworms/compost worms to break down the mulch top build up soil
1. Do native worms help in composting/breaking down of mulch? (Or is it only the compost worms that do so?)
2a. If yes, are native worms in any way inferior to compost worms in composting? ( i heard that compost worms like red wigglers are used in worm bins because they dont mind small places, but since im doing the mulching outdoors and space isnt a problem, I dont NEED to have red wigglers right?)
2b. If not, which specific breed of compost worm is suggested for the subtropical climate?
3. If i introduce foreign compost worms to the native taiwan ecosystem, would they threaten the local ecoystem and become invasive?
1. Yes. Native worms and the other decomposers will help break down the mulch.
2a. Not inferior, just have different jobs. earth worms tend to be more solitary, composting worms create/thrive in community. both are good, composting worms are better @ composting. red wigglers will breed to fill their space and food supply.
2b. Blue worms (Perionyx Excavatus) are native to Asia and African night crawlers (Eudrilus Eugeniae) will handle the temperature better than red wigglers.
I have only used red wigglers and they are very good at what they do. I would guess that all three worms would be available locally but the blue worm - being native - would be the best choice.
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Conversely, if you build a compost heap and worms find it from the surrounding terrain, you can be sure that they are, at least, native, in the they-were-born-there sense. You could be assured, in that way, that at least you aren't introducing something that isn't already there.
I wouldn't worry too terribly, except in forest ecosystems without worms that depend on a thick layer of slowly decomposing organic mulch. If worms get into that and start making soil, that's where they start to disrupt ecosystems.
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Earth worms and compost worms have a different primary habitat. Earthworms live mostly in the soil or right at the soil surface with some forays into the organic detritus above. Compost worms on the other hand mostly live in the organic detritus and only some of the time get down into the soil.
Because their living environment was at more risk compost worms often breed faster and stand higher population densities.(not always true) So for these reasons you want a compost worms.
That said you want the species that best suits your environment. Worms are temperature dependent and depth of food layer dependent. Likely your best bet is ones native to your area. But if for example space is limited and you need vertical depth then you might want to look for a worm species that stands deeper food layer depths and works all of it. Or maybe your worm pile is someplace it gets to hot or to cold for your natives so you might want to choose something else. In this area European night crawlers and red wigglers are the preferred answer. I am choosing European night crawlers to get started this year because they have a wider temperature range and might have better sale potential as fish bait where red wigglers are borderline too small.
I started out with red wrigglers. They multiply like crazy and I use all kitchen scraps, shredded paper etc. They however will not live in my climate zone without help. I need to keep them warm in the winter (using those small bulb Christmas lights or similar) and cool in our 90-100 degree summers using a frozen water bottle each day in their bin. They die without all of the above.
This spring I bought European night crawlers and started up 2 Urban worm bags and they also are doing great and eat more than the reds. I am sold on the Europeans. Another Thing I like about them is they will live in most all climates in your garden. They too are prolific breeders. Okay, one more thing that has me sold is that they are great fish bait! Alright, one more. They produce a good quantity of castings for my AACT brewer that’s why I have the worm bags. My plan is to use one for for castings and the other to breed for my gardens.
I think it’s hit or miss on the natives. They are already there on your property....somewhere. A lot depends on your timeline, finances and patience. Breeding your worms have so many possibilities not unlike breeding your animals. If you have the patience and time find the worms you think are composting and put them in your compost heap and check it out once a week and feed them. Who knows, red wrigglers may work in a subtropical zone. Composting worms are ravenous and to keep up the population you may need to consciously feed them.
As for them being an invasive species, I am not a biologist and cannot speak to that. However, in my zone I know they will not proliferate. I suggest looking into vermiculture for your area.
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