WORMERY ANYONE ?

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Wellie
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WORMERY ANYONE ?

Postby Wellie » Mon Jan 09, 2006 1:59 pm

I would be interested in any feedback from anyone who owns, has bought, or has made their own composting 'wormery / worm factory' to assist in composting kitchen garden waste.

I have read the Wiggly Wigglers website all about their Can'0'Worms, Wormeries etc. and wondered how they perform in real life as it were.

I already manage my two home-made compost bins for larger general garden waste, and they have a very healthy possie of red composting worms in.
But, as I say, for smaller compost nearer the kitchen door, and ultimately for the wormery 'end product', I'd love to know more.

Thanks in anticipation,
Wellie
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Sue
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Postby Sue » Mon Jan 09, 2006 10:27 pm

I've got one of Wiggy Wigglers Can of Worms which works but very slowly. You can put most fruit & veg kitchen waste in them, but the worms are not keen on citrus skins or anything oniony including leek leaves.

I only get about 1.5 trays of compost a year out of mine but it is incredibly rich stuff so goes a long way as you have to mix it well with soil or compost before using it. The brown liquid you drain out of the bottom is more forthcoming and is good for plant food. I dilute it to feed tomatoes and other greedy plants.

Mine was a gift and to be honest I don't think I would buy one for myself as it's a lot of money to spend for what you get. A traditional compost bin works much harder for it's keep and if you already have them, I would stick to that.

Maybe my worms are just lazy :? - see what other's think.

Sue
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Postby Chantal » Tue Jan 10, 2006 8:18 am

I've had a Wiggly Wigglers wormery for a couple of years and think it's great. It lives outside the back door so everything that comes out of the kitchen goes straight in and unlike a compost heap you can put cooked vegetables and fruit in with no fear of rats. Provided you add at least one third paper/card (I add toilet roll centres and used kitchen roll) it doesn't smell and the compost is fantastic. It takes about a year to really get going and the first bag of compost but it's much quicker after that. I've had three bags of the most fantastic rich compost which I'm planning to use in my greenhouse to refresh to soil for my tomatoes. Mine each loads of leek leaves with no problem and they're OK with onions so long as the bits are reasonably small. I agree they're not keen on too much citrus. I know this sounds stupid but I've always disliked worms and couldn't pick one up, even with gloves, but since I've had circa 4,000 on staff I feel quite different about them. Still need gloves but at least I can handle them.

I do have a further four compost bins at my allotment and a couple in the garden, but I wouldn't be without my worms.

Chantal :D
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Sue
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Postby Sue » Tue Jan 10, 2006 11:23 am

Chantal - do you bother with that Worm Treat and Lime Mix stuff Wiggly Wigglers sell? I use brown cardboard roll middles and kitchen roll like you do to add some fibre, plus mix soft sappy stuff with rougher items - bit like compost heap management - and have avoided smells and a too soggy bin. I just wonder if I lavished some more care on the little critters, they would up the production rate.

I agree the compost is top for revitalising soil, I just wish I got more.

Sue
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Postby Chantal » Tue Jan 10, 2006 7:36 pm

I do give them worm treat etc but to be honest not as often as I should. They get a couple of handfuls of both every month if I remember, but that's all. One thing I did do, after speaking to WW helpline, was put an old woolly jumper on top of the compost. The worm duvet that came with the kit disintegrated after some months and I didn't replace it. When I finally rang to buy a replacement they advised a jumper as a cheap and easy option. This keeps the top layer warmer and apparently keeps the worms near the top in the stuff that needs eating rather than lurking further down and thus increases the amount of soil produced. I also make sure the sump is kept low by draining the liquid into bottles (I have about 30 litres in store at present) which seems to make them happier.

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LakeView
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Wormery

Postby LakeView » Tue Jan 10, 2006 8:37 pm

Has anyone tried adding tea bags from fair trade tea? would I have to split open each bag? (What are they made of anyway?)
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Sue
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Postby Sue » Fri Jan 13, 2006 11:31 am

Chantal - thanks for the tip about the woolly jumper - will try that.

Lakeview - I put used teabags in my wormery & don't bother splitting them. It's best to make sure they are damp, like any carboard or paper that goes in, just so the worms get straight in there. They seem to disappear fast enough.

Sue
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GIB

Wormery

Postby GIB » Fri Jan 13, 2006 5:44 pm

Sue

I have been managing worms on quite a large scale very sucessfully for around 5 years now. I have around 3000 square feet of area layed to worm beds which produce around 40 tons of pure worm casts every year! I produce a bagged multi-purpose compost, growbags and supply it neat to local gardeners. I sell thousands of bags each year and receive very positive feedback from the users of it. Worm casts are considered as natures richest fertiliser.

As suggested by other contributors to this subject, the key to success is the quality of food put on top of the worms. They don't like it too wet or too dry and they breed and feed near the surface. With this in mind it is better to have a wormery with as larger surface area as possible i.e a 1m x 1m x 12" high area works better than a 'bin' type that has plenty of depth but limited surface area. Putting too much 'food' on to them will end in disappointment as you will find undigested layers due to the fact that the worms want to get to the surface to breed. As pointed out in earlier postings, adding chopped or torn up newspaper will greatly improve the working of the wormery as too much moisture will either make them dive to the bottom for cover or make a dash to escape for fear of drowning!

I hope this is of some help

Graham
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Wellie
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I'M ENJOYING THIS....

Postby Wellie » Fri Jan 13, 2006 7:24 pm

Keep it up, I'm learning lots !
Thanks for all your replies so far,
Wellie
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Sue
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It is interesting!

Postby Sue » Sat Jan 14, 2006 11:00 am

I agree Wellie - really interesting.

Thanks for your professional advice GIB. I'm seriously considering ditching my Can of Worms and building a raised bed\mini compost heap with a large surface area and less depth as suggested, to use for worm composting. I guess you don't get the liquid feed then, but you could move the area round & do the veg patch that way.

That would be a really cheap option for you Wellie as you can buy just the worms from Wiggly Wigglers and they are a snip compared to the price of the bins. You could also try angling shops to see if they sell brandling worms as bait as they might be even cheaper. The Can kit is around £100 now, which is why I said it was a lot of dosh for what you got. The bins have their uses if you need a compost system and have no space or soil, but the Can, which is a series of wide shallow trays, is pretty big and even then doesn't offer that much surface area.

Sue
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Wellie
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Ah! already ahead of you Sue !!

Postby Wellie » Sat Jan 14, 2006 4:41 pm

I've already checked out the fishing tackle shop closest to me, and basically, what worms HAVEN'T they got ! I did a recky of what worms WW use for their cans etc. and was considering 'making my own'... yeah, right ! No, really - I'm quite good at DIY - ask Johnboy, he's seen my Heath Robinson TableTop Propagator, and he was DEAD impressed.

Anyway, I had rather decided paying approx. £100 for a Can O Worms was about £75 too much.
Hence my posting.
And, as I say, it's getting really interesting...
:wink:
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GIB

Postby GIB » Mon Jan 16, 2006 9:13 am

Dear Sue & Wellie

If you are considering making your own worm bed it really is simple. An example, just take 4 pieces of wood 2" x 2" x 24" long to use as corner posts. Knock them into the ground around 6" deep to form a 1m square. Take some strips of wood such as tile batten and screw them around the inside of the posts, one set around the bottom and one around the top. You will now have an empty box frame. Using Mypex or similar breathable material, tack the mypex the the inside of the box frame and fold the corners in to in effect 'line' the box. You now have the perfect worm bed. The final step is to screw another set of tile battens around the inside of the top of the bed thereby sandwiching the mypex. This creates a worm 'trap' which prevents the worm from leaving the bed. They can crawl up the sides of the mypex but can't flip themselves over the batten. I hope this makes sense, the bed can be made to any size you like, i have made them 4m long x 1 m wide for some people. I wouldn't worry about moving it around to make use of the juices, just adding the pure worm casts to the soil will have an very good effect. You are right in that you could stock the bed with worms from a fishing tackle shop. However the smaller red worms don't seem to have such an appetite as the larger dendrobaena we breed. If you are still interested and have any further questions about making your own bed, let me know and i'll forward some pictures. I can supply you with worms to stock the bed with if required.

Glad you find it interesting, the worms never cease to facsinate me!

Graham
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Belinda
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Another home-made wormery

Postby Belinda » Mon Jan 16, 2006 3:24 pm

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Postby Guest » Mon Jan 16, 2006 3:54 pm

Had a look but as GIB commented surface area is the important thing - no point in buying it if it doesn't work no matter how cheap it is!
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Jo H
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worm bins

Postby Jo H » Tue Jan 17, 2006 6:00 pm

Well I never thought to look in the livestock section for worms! I have posted about my worm composting method before, its very simple and works for me.
I made a wooden bottomless box with well fitting plywood lid, its about 18"× 3' because thats the size that fits down the middle of my comfrey bed. It has a divider across the middle. I sheathed the whole thing in this fine sort of expanded steel which was left from our timber framed garage and also the bottom. I fill up half with everything that comes out of the kitchen which i wouldn't put on the compost heap, egg shells, chicken bones cooked bits, orange peel, tea bags etc. When half is full i leave that and start filling other half. I have just emptied 'cooked' half that i suppose has been left for 6 months and its lovely crumbly sweet smelling stuff. I mix it with mole hill and leaf mould to fill my strawberry boxes. the only recognizable things are egg shells and avocado stones
Now I dont know if this is technically worm composting but it's certainly alive with worms which just arrive on their own. I suppose I get a big barrowful a year. I wouldn't dream of doing this sort of composting unless i was sure it was totally rat and mouse proof. The liquid drains into and feeds the comfrey bed.
Interestingly the 'crust' on top of the septic tank contents is also alive with worms. I put a dollop of this in the bottom of all my tree planting holes. I read a reaaly good book about worms recently but can't remember the title. I will investigate and return.
Jo
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