I was doing some research on earth worms -- not composting worms, but your everyday garden variety such as Lumbricus terrestris.
...and I came upon this extensive summary of Earthworm Benefits.
The list mixes species up a bit and is country careless,but the scale of the purported benefits are inspiring.
It takes up where Charles Darwin left off.
Even if the benefits were only 50 percent of what's listed … still amazing. Twenty-five per square foot; don't get near to that yet.
They are my best buddies in the garden. They make my raised, no-dig beds "work".
"Little is known about the behaviour of earthworms in Australia. Much of the research that has been done has been carried out in southern Australia, where the climate and soils are quite different to the NSW North Coast. For this reason, this information is very general in its approach. However, the principles established from research on earthworm ecology can be applied generally to most soils and climates." --How earthworms can help your soil
From my perspective -- I prefer to ferry 'wastes' through the back end of a vertebrate rather than a worm. So I'm a manure man and mulch rather than a composting person. It seems less fiddly.More hands on. My past experiments with worm farms weren't happy occasions especially as I had to take from chooks to feed the worms.
The idea that I can make my soil 'alive' with thousands of wriggling worms is suggestive of a Garden of Eden scenario. It becomes the main prize to strive for. But there ain't much out there about doing just that as the literature tends to focus on the composting endogeic worms.
EPIGEIC (surface dwelling) types live at the surface in freshly decaying plant or animal residues.
ENDOGEIC types live within the soil and ingest soil to extract nutrition from degraded organic matter.
ANECIC types burrow deep in the soil but come to the surface at night to forage for freshly decaying residues.
But my best gardens have been worm hubs...and in the last 3 years in this place I've gone from zero worms in the neighborhood to a dense population. My early attempts were very frustrating...even with seeding with imports in manures. Since I view the garden as a worm home first and foremost it can be frustrating to wait for the migrants to settle and reproduce.
Try this for the link: http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/agriculture/resources/soils/biology/earth...
Intresting read this is why i use worms as a indicator of my soils health.
I have them in my aquaponics grow beds - which are about 1 metre of the ground. For the life of me, I can't work out how they got in... and one of them is the biggest damn worm I have ever seen.
Even the guy who wrote Organic Gardening with Worms poses the same un-answered question. How did little red compost worms escape from the bag of worm crap, crawl along the ground and tunnel under my compost bins? But that's the only way red compost worms could be living and breeding where they are.
Back yard here when I first moved was bereft of any soil organic matter yet I started to mulch with view to removing grass and bingo! soil-worker worms appeared. From dormant capsules I'm supposing.
If I see that big earth worm again, I am gunna wrangle him. I'll lasso the bugger and do a video for you.
So, one climbed 4 foot into a grow bed, but they won't go into the holes in the bottom of compost bins which are sitting on the dirt?????!!!!!
The red compost worms do enter the bins! When the compost is to their liking (full of the bacteria and fungi they love to eat) they enter the bins via the holes. Given that lots of them go with the compost into the garden, they are breeding somewhere and under the bins seems to be the logical place for the population to remain until the next batch of compost is to their liking. There is always 2 bins maturing, 1 combined of earlier ones where I take compost to the garden, and 2 or 3 bins with fresh ingredients.