A Wormery composter is like a little compost factory staffed by worms, they produce an extremely fertile garden compost and a very potent liquid fertilizer at the same time in an environmentally friendly way. Just as worms convert organic matter into fertilizer in your garden soil they can also turn your kitchen waste into dark, nutrient rich compost. You can put the same materials into a wormery composter as you would add to a compost heap. It's a good idea to chop food into small pieces as this speeds up the composting time. Worm composting is also called vermicomposting.
There are specific types of worm that can be used in wormeries called red worms or tiger worms, the common type found in all our gardens are a different species and will not be able to survive in a wormery. Compost worms live in the surface layer of the soil, they are also smaller than regular garden worms. They have also evolved to feed on rotting plants and leaves that lie on the surface, this makes them perfectly suited to break down garden and food waste. A wormery creates the ideal living environment for these compost worms. After eating the waste at the top of the composter, the worms convert it into the worm castings that form the rich compost that can be removed from the wormery as needed. In ideal conditions the worms will double their numbers in 6 weeks providing there is sufficient food available. The more worms you add at the start, the quicker the wormery will reach full processing capacity.
What Can I Compost In A Wormery?
Like all of us, compost worms enjoy a varied and balanced diet and will devour most kitchen fruit and veg scaps. It will work better to feed them little and often rather than a large amount all at once. Food waste can account for half of all rubbish a normal household will throw out, the average is roughly 1.5kg a day! Why not turn it into something useful and save on bin charges at the same time. The worms will eat the smaller softer pieces first and take longer with the rest. Try to avoid adding large quantities of meat, dairy, and overly processed food as the worms might ignore it causing it to rot in the wormery.
Do Compost: fruit and vegetable scraps, pulp, tea leaves, cooked food, coffee grounds, crushed eggshells, lawn clippings, weeds, leaves, sawdust, wood ash, hand towels, tissues,shredded egg cartons, and even hair!
Avoid or limit: Shiny or printed paper, citrus & acidic fruit skin, spicy foods, onion, garlic, meat and dairy products, bread, pasta, and other processed wheat products.
Composting Worms will eat up to their own body weight in one day, so to start with make sure to only add roughly the same amount of food as there are worms in the wormery. After each day check that there is no uneaten food sitting there - this could mean the scraps were too large or there was too much added. You can then slowly increase the amount you add to the composter as the worm population grows. They should multiply to match the food supply.
Location & Maintaining Your Wormery
If you stick to the right food for the worms and feed little and often as suggested it's really very easy. It does take a few weeks for the worm composter to get going properly so don't be disappointed if not much happens at the beginning. Keep the wormery out of direst sunlight especially in the summer months as the worms will die if allowed to get to hot, partial shade is fine. The worms will become inactive in cold winter temperatures so it's best to move them indoors at this stage. Covering with a blanket in a garage or shed is perfect.
Worm castings give new plants a very noticeable head start over ordinary compost. It is rich in humus and readily available plant nutrients so is also perfect as a supercharged multipurpose compost. Compost made from worm castings is ideal for a wide range of uses in the garden but is particularly great for bringing on young plants. Plants grown in worm castings build a more extensive root system making them stronger and healthier and better able to withstand attack from pests and diseases. Root growth really is phenomenal which also means your plants will cope with drought far better than plants with less extensive root systems. The compost produced by your wormery will be ideal across the board and is suitable for seed germination, root development, plant growth as well as being a great compost for fruit and vegetables such as tomatoes, broccoli, courgette and countless others.