05 June 2015 was World Environment Day, and in its honour, our Wildlife Conservation Experience students built a wormery and a recycling system. A wormery is an easy and efficient way of converting ordinary food waste into liquid feed and rich organic compost through the natural metabolic action of earthworms.
A wormery is used for gardening and agricultural purposes. The worms’ excretions are harvested and added to a garden or plants through direct application or irrigation. Various materials can be used to construct an odour-free cost effective wormery.
We thought we should share with you how you can build your own wormery.
- 2 x crates (crate #1 for the bottom of the wormery and crate #2 for the top)
- 1 x newspaper
- Soil (or in our case, elephant dung)
- Sieve / mosquito net or any material to stop the worms from falling through the “system”
- Roof (cardboard/ 2-ply wood or any material that will suffice as a roof)
- Equipment: Drill
- Mark the crates as crate #1 and crate #2
- Drill holes at the bottom of crate #2
- Place crate #2 on top of crate #1
- Place the sieve (or similar material) on top of the drilled holes
- Line crate #2 with torn up newspaper (on top of the sieve)
- Add the soil/elephant dung on top
- Gently add the worms to the top of the soil in crate #2
- Add more soil on top of the worms
- Shred the left over newspaper into tiny pieces and place it on top
- Damp the soil with water to create some moisture
- Take your ply-wood (roof) and drill small holes for ventilation
- Remember to put the roof on top of the crate.
Note that you will keep the worms in crate #2 so that their excretion falls into crate #1. Once crate #1 is filled with enough manure, you can then empty it to your garden.
And voila! Your wormery is ready for action.
Do take care when feeding, as the wormery is fragile (especially when starting out). Here are some helpful hints:
- Little at first: when starting your wormery, your first job is to feed it carefully and patiently while the worm population multiplies. You’ll probably have 300 – 500 worms in your wormery starter pack. But a mature, fully productive wormery has several thousand! Your worm population will double in size every two to three months, so it may take 12 – 18 months until your wormery is at full capacity. It’s better to add too little food than too much (particularly early on). If you add too much, the food may putrefy (go off and get smelly). In optimal conditions, worms can eat about half their body weight a day. In cooler weather it will be a lot less.
- Add 20 – 30% carbon rich, ‘brown matter’: that’s cardboard, newspaper or wood chips – in addition to the food waste. Cardboard and wood chips will also help create air spaces in the wormery (like all animals and living things, worms need air).
- Don’t add any one ingredient in large quantities(particularly processed foods).
- Feed it a varied diet: this will help create a healthy wormery and a rich worm compost full of nutrients and trace elements – good things include banana skins and comfrey leaves (for potassium), coffee and nettles (for nitrogen). Other good food products to feed are coffee grounds and tea bags, leftover cooked foods, bread, rice, pastries, cake, crushed eggshells and cut flowers. Do not feed the worms any tomatoes and citrus foods. Worms love potato peels and any other fruit and vegetables!
- Feeding frequency: usually you’ll find that the worms need feeding once or twice a week. When you lift the lid of your wormery and you can see a few worms scouting round the surface, then it’s time for feeding.
- Moistening the soil: this depends on how much fluid is in the food you feed the worms. The soil should be kept damp at all times but be careful not to water the wormery too much.
The wormery can be kept for as long as the worms are alive.
NOTE: Fishermen, DO NOT be tempted to utilise your worms for other purposes!