How to make a worm composter
Worm composting is a fantastic and natural way of recycling all those vegetable scraps, banana skins and tea bags from your kitchen. And it’s easy to make one! Just follow these simple steps but remember to get an adult to help you.
What you need…
—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…
1. Drill some breathing holes into the lid of the bin.
2. Place 3 inches of sand or gravel at the bottom of the bin for drainage.
3. Place wooden slats on top of the sand or gravel, to separate the drainage material from the compost you are going to produce.
4. 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.
5. 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″ 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.
Never overfeed 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’ll 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?
-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)
Worms Don’t Like
-Meat and fish (worms will eat these but they are best avoided as they tend to putrify and attract rats and flies) Grass in any quantity (heats up and gives off ammonia, both of which will kill worms)
-Diseased plant material
-Rice or pasta
-Cat/dog faeces (these contain human parasites)
Your problems solved
I have lots of tiny flies in my worm bin – is this a health risk?
No. These are probably fruit flies, which commonly occur on rotting fruit and vegetables. A tight fitting lid will help to exclude them. Also, if you bury the vegetable waste as you add it, or keep it covered with damp newspaper, they are less likely to be a problem. Flies do not harm the compost, although they can be irritating and offensive to some people.
I have masses of tiny white worms in my worm compost – are they a problem?
These are probably pot worms (enchytraeids). They do a similar job to brandling worms and are nothing to worry about; you find them in most worm bins. They are very tolerant of waterlogged/acid conditions so if you find them proliferating, and your worms are getting fewer, improve the drainage. Mixing in some shredded newspaper will help. You can also add a sprinkling of calcified seaweed or rock limestone (dolomite) to correct the acidity.
Newly hatched brandling worms are also whitish and only half an inch long. You can distinguish them from pot worms by their blood vessel which gives a pinkish tinge.
I opened my worm bin to find hundreds of worms around the lid – why?
Either they have run out of food or the conditions in the bin have become unsuitable for them. Worms hate waterlogged, acidic compost. Piling in a thick layer of kitchen waste so that it begins to putrefy and exclude the air will cause this sort of problem. Adding fresh green materials that heat up as they decompose will also kill worms or drive them away.
Plastic worm bins do not always allow enough drainage from the compost; make sure that liquids are not collecting in the bottom of the bin to flood the compost.
I am going on holiday – will my worms die if not fed?
An established worm bin can be left for up to four weeks with no adverse effects if you feed the worms well before you leave. Left for longer periods the worm population would slowly decline.
The contents of my worm bin are mouldy – am I doing something wrong?
No. This can happen as vegetable waste starts to decompose. It will not harm the worms and should soon disappear. Turning the waste into the bedding with a small fork can help.
Leaf mould can be made by placing leaves in a large black bag or in an open topped wire cage. After one year they will form a mulch, and after two years a fine textured potting compost will be produced.
all information taken down from—-
know we know….. lets do it!