I Got Worms February 06 2015

Welcome to “I Got Worms” a series of blog posts all about What You Sow’s adventures with wormeries.

I’ve been desperate to start a wormery ever since we had an allotment a few years ago. Alice and I hosted a disproportionately high number of worms on our plot which did a cracking job of helping us keep our soil healthy. We used to collect buckets of coffee grinds from the canteen at work which we were convinced led to the large volume of worms, and gave them a caffeine-high which made them work harder. I’m not sure if this is even possible, but it seemed to do the trick and that is what we shall believe forevermore. It gave me a real fondness for worms.

So when Bridge at The Garden House told me that she needed someone to help her manage the wormeries I jumped at the chance. They take a bit of looking after….setting the wormery up, collecting the right sorts of kitchen and household waste, making sure the worms are warm and have the right moisture levels and making sure the compost and worm juice is harvested. Bridge was after someone who could dedicate a bit of time every week.

So from now on I’m going to blog about wormeries each week, sharing what I’ve learned, top tips for getting the most out of a wormery and guest posts with insights from people who keep worms.

Here’s a bit of an intro and how we are got on with the wormery at Wednesday Gardening Group:

There are two wormeries at The Garden House.

One huge one:

Wormery at The Garden House, Brighton. Photo by What You Sow.

and a Can-O-Worms:

Can o worms at The Garden House, Brighton. Photo by What You Sow.

The plan is to start off just getting the Can-O-Worms established and move on to the larger wormery at a later date.

I couldn’t find any good illustrations online showing how the Can O Worms works so I had to draw one. It’s a little bit school handout, so please excuse how it looks.

How a can o worms works. At The Garden House, Brighton. Photo by What You Sow.

Essentially a wormery consists of a collecting tray for gathering the liquid, then three working trays which the worms live and work in. When starting a wormery up, you use the bottom tray first, into which you place a layer of compost, add the worms, put some kitchen waste and dry fibre on top(e.g. loo rolls and egg boxes – should be about 30% of the content) then cover with a jumper made of natural fibres (e.g. wool, or cotton). This helps keep the worms warm, helps retain moisture and helps maintain the darkness that the worms enjoy.

Once the bottom working tray is full, you start filling the second tray and the worms will start to move up to that tray, likewise when that is full you start using the top working tray and eventually all the bottom tray will be just worm castings and all the worms will have migrated into the middle tray. So you can remove the bottom tray, use the worm castings on your garden and put this tray back on top and start again. In the meantime, the moisture from all the trays will drip down into the collecting tray and can be harvested by turning the tap on and then used as organic fertiliser on the garden. The fertiliser is also know as worm juice or worm tea sometimes, it's this sort of colour:

Worm tea  at The Garden House, Brighton. Photo by What You Sow.

I think that’s how it works.  

It’s sort of complicated. In fact when I started writing this I didn’t really understand it, it’s only after having written it out I think I get it. There’s a bit more information on the Can O Worms on the Abundant Earth website.

So in this week’s Wednesday Gardening Group, one of our tasks was to set the Can-O-Worms up, so without having much of a clue about what we were doing, Barbara, Ro and I got to work. Bridge had been given the wormery by a friend and it was a bit broken and grubby so our first task was to clean it up, including evicting a family (and then some) of snails who had moved in. We also had to relocate it to a spot where it was easily accessible, both for putting in the food waste and for harvesting the worm juice from the tap when it was ready.  

Can o worms worm farm at The Garden House, Brighton. Photo by What You Sow.

We've got all the gear sorted, look at this lovely tin to collect up the kitchen waste (minus onions and citrus because worms hate them):

Food for a worm farm at The Garden House, Brighton. Photo by What You Sow.

And here is Barbara proudly pouring the first food waste into the wormery:

Filling a worm farm at The Garden House, Brighton. Photo by What You Sow.  

We didn’t really understand how to set it up as per the above (I only read up on it afterwards) so we got it a bit wrong, putting the food waste into the top level and not having any sort of compost in there for the worms to live in while they are digesting the food. So I’ll nip down at the weekend and sort it out ready for the arrival of the worms next week.

Anyway, that’s where we are for now, next week on I Got Worms we introduce some worms to the wormery. Fun!

 

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