The Wormery Store

Reduce Waste And Feed Your Garden: Everything You Need To Know About Wormeries If you're a gardener, you're already well aware of the many benefits of composting. Have you considered enlisting worms as your allies in the composting process, though? A wormery - a dedicated container for keeping worms and letting them convert leftover food into compost - is an excellent way to reduce waste and produce healthy compost. Here's a basic overview. The Wormery Defined A wormery is a composting tool that harnesses the natural biological action of earthworms to convert food waste into an especially rich and hearty compost. By providing an ideal environment for your worms and moderating their food intake properly, you can build a thriving colony that gives you all the compost your garden will ever need. Wormeries are highly efficient and require minimal maintenance. Wormeries can be built at almost any scale, from very modest bins that fit beneath an outdoor counter to huge multi-tiered affairs that produce vast amounts of compost. As with most gardening projects, it's wisest to start off small and increase the scale of your operation as you become more familiar with the process. Don't leap right into advanced worm-tending until you've mastered the basics! How All Works Wormeries are terribly simple. All you need is a sealed, ventilated container where you can bring worms together with food waste and let them chow down. As they feed, they break down the nutrients in the food and produce a very pure, very useful compost. As long as the conditions inside the wormery remain healthy for your worms (more on that below), they will continue to eat and compost indefinitely. The worms that do the work are usually tiger worms, also known as red wrigglers or bait worms. Ordinary earthworms aren't the best choice for wormeries, as they like to burrow deep. Tiger worms are shallow-living creatures ideally suited for use in wormeries. You can buy tiger worms online, or from your local bait shop or gardening center. In a more elaborate wormeries with multiple bins, the active worms will mostly congregate in the upper levels of the structure. The multiple bin system makes it easy to harvest compost from the lower reaches without disturbing the inhabitants. Single-bin wormeries require some effort to harvest, as the active worms will usually have to be separated from the compost by hand. What Wormeries Produce A good wormery produces two different forms of compost! Vermicompost is the rich, dark material that the worms leave behind after they've consumed your food scraps. It's packed full of useful nutrients, and it's suitable for immediate use as fertilizer or a soil additive in your garden. As noted above, harvesting this compost can be tricky if you're running a single bin wormery; this is the major motivating factor that drives most people to step up to multi-bin systems. The second product of a good wormery is the liquid runoff. Technically known as leachate, most worm tenders simply call it "worm juice." Leachate consists of the excess moisture from your food waste that your worms have no use for, with a bonus of useful nutrients. It's worth your time to collect worm juice, as it makes a potent liquid fertilizer when diluted. Most good plastic wormeries have a drainage system installed to let leachate escape and collect it. Building Your Wormery To build a wormery of your own, start with any plastic bin suitable for outdoor use. (Recycling bins make an ideal start!) You'll need to drill plenty of holes to allow your worms to get air. Elevate the bin off the ground to allow air circulation - most of the holes should be in the bottom of the bin. (You can use a fine wire mesh or a simple sheet of newspaper to "worm-proof" these holes before filling the bin.) Before adding your worms, you need to lay down some bedding. As noted above, the very best starter material to use is compost from another already established wormery. Ordinary compost or a dense layer of coir (i.e. coconut fiber) can work in a pinch, though. You need to cover the bottom of your bin to a depth of at least one inch. After that, all you need is a worm population! Starting with a few hundred is ideal; if you care for them, properly they'll multiply very quickly. Wormery Feeding And Maintenance Your worms will thrive on a mix of kitchen scraps and leftovers. Fruit and vegetable peels are ideal, as are eggshells, coffee grounds, tea bags, and green garden waste. Citrus scraps or onions should not used as these types of waste have the well-known to be too acidic for your worms. Oily, spicy, or salty foods should also be included only in moderation. Meat is another "iffy" food. Worms will eat it, but very slowly. It may also spread disease. You need to maintain a proper moisture level inside it should be damp without being dripping wet. Excess moisture is a much more common problem than a lack of moisture. The best way to soak up unwanted water is to add some absorbent material like shredded cardboard, paper, or wood chips. Your worms will chow down on this stuff just like food scraps, converting it into the same rich compost. In a single-bin system, the only way to get to the valuable compost your worms have created is to dump the whole bin. You'll need to lay some of the compost back into the bin to give your worms a home and then transfer them back in. Once you move up to a more ambitious multi-bin wormery, this process gets a lot easier. Your worms will tend to congregate in the upper reaches of the worms environment, allowing you to empty the lowest bin, move it to the top, and load it with fresh food. This basic guide should give you enough information to get started don't be afraid to dive in and get your hands dirty! The first-hand experience is by far the best teacher. You'll find plenty of additional advice (such as building instructions, wormery troubleshooting, and compost use suggestions) available online.

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