Composting – Wormery

Also called Vermicomposing.

What is a Wormery?

A Wormery is an easy, efficient system of converting ordinary kitchen food waste into liquid feed and rich organic compost through the natural action of worms.

How does it work?

The Wormery is divided up into a number of chambers. In one of these live the Tiger Worms (it’s OK, you don’t have to touch them – you probably won’t even see much of them). All you do is drop your daily kitchen waste into the bin and forget it. The worms feed on the food waste and convert it into concentrated liquid feed and Bio-rich organic compost.

What can I put in?

Wormeries will accept your ordinary kitchen waste such as peelings, cooked and uncooked scraps, tea bags, eggshells, paper kitchen towels, even shredded newspaper etc. In fact virtually any organic kitchen waste can go into a Wormery.

What do I get out?

From your Wormery, you will get a strong, nutrient rich liquid feed, which you dilute with water prior to use as an excellent plant food for house plants, garden flowers, shrubs, vegetables or as a lawn feed. Also, a rich organic compost known to keen gardeners as “Black Gold”.

Why Worms?

Nature has provided us with the perfect waste disposal unit in the worm, and Tiger Worms are simply the most efficient at dealing with organic waste. They live their whole lives in the dark, moist atmosphere of the Wormery; eating the waste material you put in and converting it into liquid feed and compost. The worms are native to the UK and occur naturally outdoors wherever there is organic waste such as an old compost heap. All we have done is harness their abilities more efficiently by producing the ideal environment for them to work in.

Does it smell?

No. Well designed Wormeries  should not smell at all. As the waste material you put in starts to decompose in the Wormery, it is consumed by the worms thereby effectively eliminating the possibility of odor. The rubberised compression seal around our Wormeries also helps to minimise any risk of odor as the food starts to break down.

How many Worms ?

To start off you will need 150. Depending on how much waste you produce up to 400.

When it comes to worms, a plentiful amount of quality worms is better than a big quantity of larger, cheaper worms. I use Tiger Worms (Eisenia Fetida) in pristine breeding condition. After lengthy research and trials by ourselves and others (The Open University) these have proven to be noticeably the best native species of worm for use in a Wormery and in over 20 years of using them, they continue to be the species of choice. They breed exceptionally well, are hungrier, and are more tolerant of a wider temperature, moisture and acidity range than their close cousins Dendrobaena which seem to be preferred by some (probably because of their wider availability and lower cost – due to their use a bait by anglers).

How Does It Work?

Wormery How it Works

How Long For Liquid
It will take approximately 3 months for liquid to appear, it completely depends however on what goes in, if you use foods with high water content, it will produce more liquid than if you compost entirely with paper and cardboard.

How Long To Compost A Tray
A tray should take around 1-2 months to fill, and about 4-5 months to compost totally.
These times are all dependant on the amount of worms, time of year, and the health of your wormery.

How to build a wormery

A Wormery is an enclosed bin which uses special types of worms to help break down organic matter. They are available for sale but you can also make your own.

Suitable materials for your Wormery

Recycled wood from old pallets (check that they are free from wood preservatives as they harm the worms)

An old plastic/standard plastic compost bin

Building Your Wormery

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 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. Cover this with a well soaked whole newspaper.

Replace the lid and and leave undisturbed for at least 2 weeks for the worms to settle.

Maintaining your Wormery

Worms will eat almost anything that will decompose. They should be primarily fed on kitchen scraps but they will process weeds and other garden waste.

Worms like variety. Not too much of one thing!

Large quantities of citrus peel, seeds and 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.

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.

Have fun building your wormery.

You can get your worms from:

UK: http://www.originalorganics.co.uk/accessories.htm#wormeryaccessories

USA: http://www.ecobusinesslinks.com/composters_composting.htm

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