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How Worms can do Recycling for You

March 16, 2010 4:12 PM

A regular wormery - but there are even special designs for children!

Wormeries have been around for quite a time, but most people think they need a great deal of attention and are rather messy things.

A wormery is a box system that contains composting worms that love to munch away on kitchen wastes. Whilst doing this, they produce worm castings (worm poo or vermicompost) and leachate (liquid fertilizer). These are the byproducts good for your indoor and outdoor plants. The compost they produce can be mixed into the soil when planting new plants, or added to houseplants and containers as a feed or top dressing. See below for how to use the liquid residue.

A normal wormery should smell earthy. Bad smells arise when to much food (more than the worms can eat) is allowed to rot and becomes anaerobic (bacteria that doesn't need oxygen to live). If your wormery starts to smell put on rubber gloves and stir up any uneaten food as this allows the oxygen to penetrate. Stop feeding the worms, add damp cardboard and paper, and if you have a really horrible smelly mess, as a last resort, it might be advisable to remove the rotten food.

Wormeries usually have a sump to collect the liquid residue and it is this liquid which is the fertiliser. It can take many months to get any liquid, as it is all dependent on what is placed in the wormery. Obviously vegetables will produce more water than bread. And if you use lots of paper, this will soak up any residues as well. With most wormeries, you can dilute the liquid residue with 10 parts water before using it as a plant feed.

Worm composting can be carried out all year round, however worm activity ceases below 10 degrees centigrade and they can die above 40 degrees C. Your wormery can be kept on concrete, in a garage, shed or greenhouse but if the weather turns cold it's a good idea to insulate by recycling bubblewrap or layers of newspaper tied around with string, an old blanket, or similar. Using straw inside will also keep them snug.

Sometimes wormeries need a special accelerator if the mix isn't quite right. There's lots more information on the internet. Try www.wormcity.co.uk or www.wigglywigglers.co.uk for more information. Go on, give it a go!