How to make a Worm Composter
Vermicomposting is the process of using worms to produce rich compost from waste organic material. Vermicomposting is an excellent and speedy method of composting. One pound (0.5 kilograms) of worms can turn 65 pounds (30 kilograms) of garden and kitchen waste into lush garden compost in about 100 days. And it is easy to make one yourself! Just follow these simple steps:
What you need to make a worm composter
400 Compost worms (often called tiger or brandling worms). Available from most fishing shops or farmers muck heaps!
A plastic dustbin.
A plastic tap.
Some sand or gravel.
Some small pieces of wood.
Some bedding material (for the worms!)
How to make your worm composter…
Drill some breathing holes into the lid of the bin.
Place 3 inches of sand or gravel at the bottom of the bin for drainage.
Place wooden slats on top of the sand or gravel, to separate the drainage material from the compost you are going to produce.
On top of the wooden slats, put down 4 inches of damp bedding material. An old growbag is ideal, or you could use shredded newspaper or straw.
Drill a tap into the bin just above the gravel / sand, where the wooden slats are placed. You can buy taps from most hardware or garden shops.
Once you have built your wormery, dig a small hollow in the bedding material and place the worms inside. Then you can start adding your food scraps. Always make sure the scraps are chopped up well. There are two main ways of feeding the worms:
Place the food scraps on the surface of the bedding in a layer (up to 2 inches deep), but never cover the whole surface as the worms need a small area to escape if conditions get unpleasant.
Alternatively you can bury small batches of food scraps in the bedding, around the bin. Some people prefer this way as they feel the waste is covered up and is out of the way of the flies.
With both methods you need to keep a thick sheet of wet newspapers over the surface to keep the light out and moisture in. Only add more food when the worms have finished their last lot. The speed the food is processed will depend on the number of worms, the time of year and the type of food added.
CAUTION… Never over feed the wormery. The food will just rot, upsetting the worms and making nasty smells!
You can keep your worm bin outside but in winter, the worms will be warmer (and hungrier) if you keep them inside a garage or shed.
After a few weeks you should be able to collect some liquid through the tap which you can use as a liquid feed for your plants. After a few months you can empty the bin, put the worms back and start again! And of course you will have some excellent compost which the worms will have left behind to help everything grow better in the garden.
What can I put in my worm compost bin?
Worms do not like……
- Egg shells (worms need calcium and egg shells are an excellent way of supplying this and keeping the bin from getting too acidic)
- Coffee grounds and tea bags
- Annual weeds (not seed heads)
- Green leaves
- Cow/horse manure
- Vegetable peelings
- Meat and fish (worms will eat these but they are best avoided as they tend to putrefy and attract rats and flies)
- Grass in any quantity (heats up and gives off ammonia, both of which will kill worms)
- Weed seeds
- Diseased plant material
- Rice or pasta
- Baked beans
- Cooked potatoes
- Cat/dog faeces (these contain human parasites)