The day the worm turned

Last weekend I made myself a wormery which I’ve been meaning to do for a while now but my drill packed in a few weeks ago. When you see the price of the commercially sold worm-composting bins it’s definitely worth making your own. The main reason I made one is for the excellent compost I’ve been hearing a lot about and the liquid by-product produced, that can be used as great plant feed when diluted. Much cheaper and better than the chemical laden stuff you get for a fiver in DIY shops!

Armed with notes from the excellent “worm composting in the city” course at the walworth garden farm and some research in the library the week before, combined with the purchase of a new electric drill from Wickes (£29.99 from their “no frills” range) I was ready to roll!

The container is a plastic mop-bucket sized tub with a lid which was procured outside a shop in Theobalds Road (left out for the binmen) which I first gave a good wash out. I drilled a few dozen holes in the bottom (for the liquid to seep through) and the same amount 1” from the bottom and 2” from the top for ventilation. You could also drill some small holes in the lid for good measure too.

I then put a good layer of well ripped up newspaper and (untreated) cardboard at the bottom of the tub and gave it a soak and left to drain out for a short while. I then put in a layer of rotted compost from bin attempt 2, put the lid on and left overnight.

In the morning I put in a handful of composting worms (tiger or brandling worms, available from fishing tackle shops, the internet, off a fellow composter or as Bob Flowerdew suggested, lay a sheet of wet cardboard on the ground and in a few days you’ll get the worms on the underside) into the container. You only need a few as they breed like crazy.

I then put some a thin layer of finely cut up scraps of vegetable/kitchen waste in for the worms to feed on. They don’t need much at one time as they can only consume so much but they do like it regular so keep checking on them while making sure the compost doesn’t dry out and is kept just moist at all times. You can put in fruit and vegetable peelings, washed out uncooked egg shells, bread, leaves, dead flower heads, tea bags and coffee grounds etc. No meat, dairy products, oily foods etc as you don’t want to attract rats and mice even though it’s like catworld in our back garden! Once a month you should also add more fibrous material like ripped up newspaper and ripped up egg cartons.

The bin can be left outside but a warm place like a garage or the like is better, somewhere sheltered so as not to get hit by extreme cold as the worms can’t tolerate being baked or frozen. You could always insulate the bin with bubblewrap or similar if you do choose to site it outside (check that the airholes don’t get blocked) and make sure the bin is never in full sun.

Do remember to put a tray or something similar underneath the bin (mine is on two bricks to lift it off the floor) to catch the liquid that is produced. I will you keep you updated on how I get on and pass on any tips learnt as this is a first for me!

Cost of the post:
Electric Drill (Wickes “no frills” range): £29.99
Bucket: Free from outside a shop left out for the binmen.
Newspapers: 2 x Daily Mirrors bought for the Free Seeds
Composting Worms from Compost Bin Attempt 2 (Free)


3 thoughts on “The day the worm turned

  1. How cool!

    Update on the WGF wormeries that we made on the last composting course:
    The expensive purpose made one is doing ok.
    The wooden Council-provided one isn’t doing much at all. The worms are happy but the box is rotting.
    The dustbin is going great guns!

    I’ve always used dustbins personally, in my own garden. Yours will do well, I’m pretty sure of that. Good old Bob Flowerdew!

  2. Cheers for that Scarlett! I was wondering how those wormeries were getting on. I think the pink plastic dustbin was the best looking one by far! Will let you know how it all progresses. Pete

  3. I’ve just come across a great article with more hints and tips on building a wormery from a great blog crammed well full of interesting stuff
    It took the guy 3 minutes to build his version and he even had a cold beer in one hand! I am sure the westminster council health & safety clipboard bloke would have him for that. He mentions that worms love Cheerios too! Brilliant, I’m just popping down the garden with a handful now!

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