Creating a composting wormery is a great way to speed up the composting process, and to recycle organic wastes and food scraps into usable and potent fertiliser. A wormery can be created easily with old containers in your home, your dinner's leftovers, and the right type of worms. The low maintenance of a wormery makes it an ideal composting choice for those who want to live a bit greener without dedicating a great deal of time. In a few simple steps you will be on your way to producing fresh fertiliser for your garden or lawn.
Find two bins to use in constructing your wormery. Ideally, the bins should nest in each other. The top bin will hold the worms, while the bottom bin will catch the run off, or leachate. Rubbermaid totes or similar plastic storage containers are great for making a worm bin and are relatively inexpensive. Make sure at least one container has a lid. The bins can be any size, but they should be at least 8 to 10 inches deep. The larger the bin, the more worms and compost it can hold.
Drill holes around the top edges of the top bin. This bin will be your worm bin and hold your composting materials and worms. Drill holes around the lid of the bin. These holes will provide ventilation and oxygen for your worms and compost materials, so make sure you drill plenty and evenly space them around the bin.
Drill drainage holes evenly around the bottom of the worm bin. Don't worry about worms escaping, as they should be happy with the adequate food and living space of their wormery.
Drill ventilation holes about halfway down from the top of the bottom bin. They should run in a line parallel to the top of the bin and be evenly spaced. When the top bin is placed in the bottom bin, the holes should not be blocked by the top bin.
Place moist shredded newspaper, cardboard, leaves, and brown yard scraps into the bottom of the worm bin. The bedding should be about as wet as a wrung out sponge. Do not overfill your bin. The surface-dwelling worms only need about 8 to 10 inches of bedding and compost materials.
Add a pound of worms to your worm bin. This should equate to about 1,000 worms. The best worms for use in a wormery are red wigglers or European nightcrawlers. A wormery can sustain about 1,000 worms for every square foot of surface area, so if your bin is larger you may add more worms. Worms can be obtained from speciality stores or purchased online. See links at Resources below for websites that deal worms.
Throw fresh food scraps into your worm bin instead of the garbage can. Leftover fruits, vegetables, and other organic scraps are perfect, but worms will eat just about anything that can decompose. Place the lid on your wormery and leave the worms to do their work, creating fresh compost in only a matter of weeks.
Vary the size and material used for your bedding. This variety will encourage the worms to move around the bin and compost the material evenly. Keep the bin covered to avoid flies and other pests from disturbing the composting process. If the waste begins to smell, it may be too wet. Mix in dry, brown material such as dead leaves to help even out the moisture. If little decomposition takes place, the material may be too dry. Mix in water and fresh green scraps to help moisten the pile.
Do not overfeed your worms. This could kill them. Also avoid adding too much citrus, meat, and rotting material.
Tips and warnings
- Vary the size and material used for your bedding. This variety will encourage the worms to move around the bin and compost the material evenly.
- Keep the bin covered to avoid flies and other pests from disturbing the composting process.
- If the waste begins to smell, it may be too wet. Mix in dry, brown material such as dead leaves to help even out the moisture. If little decomposition takes place, the material may be too dry. Mix in water and fresh green scraps to help moisten the pile.
- Do not overfeed your worms. This could kill them. Also avoid adding too much citrus, meat, and rotting material.