Wormeries - and how to build your own
Wormeries are enclosed bins which use special types of worm to help break down organic matter. They are available for sale but you can also make your own.
Worm composting (or vermicomposting) is the process of using worms to break down kitchen and garden waste, to create faster than normal composting. The worms produce castings, which are rich in nutrients. they also produce a concentrated liquid feed.
A wormery is a construction to house the worms and their food. Typically a wormery is an enclosed unit with several separate, but linked compartments. Wormeries ca an be built or handmade. They can be sited indoors or outside as they are odourless and hygienic.
Usually the uppermost compartment is topped with a simple degradable blanket to retain the heat and this must be kept moist. Examples include fibre matting, old newspapers, towels etc.
The worms used are Tiger worms (also known as Brandling worms or Redworms) which can be ordered through the post. You can order them from Wiggly Wigglers (opens in a new window) .
Maintaining your wormery
Worms will eat almost anything that will decompose
They should be fed primarily on kitchen scraps but they will process weeds and other garden waste
Worms like variety - not too much of one thing! Its best to only put in small pieces
Large quantities of citrus peel, seeds, onions, garlic, diseased material and meat and fish are best avoided
Worms can be killed by overfeeding - don't add more waste until the previous addition has been composted
Keep container covered to avoid fruit flies
Don't allow the bin to get too hot or dry out
In the Winter it should be brought into a garage/shed if possible or wrapped in bubble wrap. In the summer it should be placed in partial shade
If the heap begins to smell (too wet), pull everything out, mix it well with brown material and return to the bin
If the heap remains unchanged (too dry) pull everything out, water it, mix it with green material and return to the bin
Ready compost may be stored in medium-sized sacks (30/40litre) in a cool, dry place
Building your own wormery
Recycled wood from old pallets (check that they are free from wood preservatives as they harm the worms)
An old plastic standard sized bin
Building the bin
Drill drainage holes around the base of a plastic dustbin, approx 5cm from the base, 25cm apart
Drill a circle of air holes 5cm from the top of the bin
Fill bin with 8-10cm layer of coarse sand or gravel
On top of this place a circle of wood or polythene with holes drilled for drainage
Add a 7-8cm layer of moistened bedding material, such as well rotted compost manure or leaf mould
Place at least 100 worms in the bedding - brandling/tiger worms can be obtained from a mature compost heap, a working worm bin or they could be purchased
Add a litre of chopped food to one side of the bin and cover this with a well soaked whole newspaper
Replace the lid and leave undisturbed for at least two weeks for the worms to settle