Wormery and composting experiences - by Jesse

Aug 4 2020

June 2020 - End of Project Worms

Sadly my little experiment came to an end this summer when I moved house. But it gave the chance to empty out my compost bin and wormery and assess how successful they have been over the last three years.

With the compost bin three year’s worth of compost has broken down quite nicely overall:
Compost

Some things didn’t break down including:
1. Food waste bags marked ‘OK home compostable’
2. Avocado peel and core
3. Some seeds and nut shells such as pistachios
4. Tea bags (the bag bit)
Compost with a compostable bag that hasn't broken down

But an avocado stone started to sprout – I gave it to a neighbour who is going to try growing it!
An avocado stone that has sprouted

The wormery compost was much better processed and a lot wetter as is normal. Strangely it never produced worm tea though I don't know why. I imagine I wasn't putting quite the right balance of materials in:

Wormery compost

In conclusion, I found both methods very easy to use. The wormery, though a little more fussy on what can go in, might be a better option for a smaller household or one without much garden space as it can survive on kitchen peelings and shredded card/paper. It would also be a great project for a family to introduce kids to composting. However, the traditional compost bin worked just as well for me. Champion Susie has also documented her successes with a stackable wormery, which is probably a better design than the bucket-style one that I used.

A closing note on vermin: I rat-proofed my compost bin by placing it on a double sheet of chicken wire, slightly buried in the soil, keeping a clear perimeter around the bin, and regularly using and turning the contents. The wormery is fully enclosed and raised up on bricks which makes it harder for vermin to get in. Thankfully I never had any issues in three years of use.

 

Progress update 2018

The worms quickly munched their way out of their box to explore their new surroundings. I started feeding them little and often and found that just a handful of peelings once a week was enough to satisfy them. It seemed slow to break down but the worms seem happy. No worm tea though. Was the tap blocked? Or was something else not right?

 

October 2017 - wormery & composting experiences (Jesse)

Moving into a new home earlier this summer, I was intrigued to discover a medium-sized grey container perched on a neat arrangement of old bricks at the back of the garden. Closer inspection revealed this to be a wormery! Sadly, however, there wasn’t a worm in sight, just some very clumpy soil and a lot of half-crushed egg-shells!

I’ve composted for many years, using a standard compost bin and found this to be a great way to use up fruit and veg scraps in return for free garden-nourishment. However, I was curious to know more about alternatives to traditional composting, so I decided I would attempt to resurrect the wormery. So began Project Worms, much to the amusement of my housemate!!

Step one was to clean out the existing material – I decided to sieve it and remove the egg shells and odd bits that hadn’t decomposed. This left a rich-looking compost that I put to one side. The base of the wormery was completely dry (no worm tea…more on that in a later blog!) which was further evidence that this worm palace had ceased to be active a long time ago.

Step two was to put some foundation layers in the wormery. Some torn up newspaper went in first, followed by a thin layer of the compost I had removed earlier. Now the most exciting part…the worms themselves!

There are various websites offering starter kits with worms, bedding material and related items (e.g. https://www.wormery.co.uk/) but in the end I opted for what seemed a rather neat idea; a ‘boxa worms’ (https://www.wormsdirectuk.co.uk). A few days after placing my order, a small cardboard box arrived which I was told contained around 150 Tiger worms and Dendrobaena (ideally suited to wormeries). Supposedly, this method of ordering worms has the advantage that the worms are contained within bedding material which they are already used to, which helps mitigate the shock of entering new surroundings. The instructions said to place the box direct into the wormery, give it a water and then leave to do its magic. After a day or two the worms would eat their way out of the box and begin to roam the wormery!

To finish I added some torn up cardboard and newspaper (I didn’t add any fruit/veg waste at this stage). And ta-da! The wormery was all set up and ready. Alongside this I have also installed a basic compost bin which I intend to use for larger amounts of material, grass clippings, garden trimmings and citrus fruit, onions and other items that worms are not keen on (a sort of wormery-compost combo if you like!).

Check back next time for an update on how the worms have settled in!

Wormery

The wormery in all its glory!

Box of worms

A box of worms!

Cardboard items

Browns to mix with greens.

Wormery

In go the worms!

Wormery

A layer of material on top.

Wormery

Giving it a good water to ‘activate’.