How to make your own wormery

Worms by Clare Bowes

A wormery will recycle your waste food to make a superb fertiliser for your crops and a living soil in your containers. Wormeries are perfect for small spaces: they’re small, don”t smell and make compost faster than conventional composters. You can either buy one (in the UK many councils offer them at discounted prices) or it can be fun and rewarding to make your own.

It’s easy to make your own! 

When I started growing I imagined that wormeries were complicated and hard to make. The truth is that they are simple and easy. 

Worms will be happy in any home that meets their basic needs: air, darkness, and moisture. It also shouldn’t get too hot or cold.  There are several ways to make a wormery. The easiest is to use an old plastic (or wood) box. Here’s how to do it (I’ll share other ways in the future). 

What you need

To make a simple box wormery you’ll need a shady space (under a bench or table is fine) for it to live and:

  1. A large plastic box with a lid (see below)
  2. A drill
  3. 2 bricks or pieces of wood to stand it on.
  4. Some newspaper or cardboard. 
  5. Worms and worm bedding

How to make it

1. Find a large plastic box, with a lid (you can improvise a lid if it doesn’t have one)If you can find a box that is UV treated it will last longer outside (most plastics designed for outside use eg recycling boxes will be OK). There is not really a minimum size – but the larger the surface area of your box, the more food waste you’ll be able to feed it. Anything much smaller than 14 inches (35cm) in diameter will be quite limited.

 

 

An old recycling box like this is perfect. These normally come with a lid but it's been lost so I will have to improvise. This one is a good size - 50cm x 35cm - but a bit smaller would also be OK.
An old recycling box like this is perfect. These normally come with a lid but it’s been lost so I will have to improvise. This one is a good size – 50cm x 35cm – but a bit smaller would also be OK.

 

2. Drill holes in the base of the box. Worms need air to breathe (just like us) – so drill enough holes to ensure a good air flow. I used a 1/2 inch (12mm)  drill piece here – but any reasonable sized holes will do. (Just bear in mind that smaller holes are more likely to get blocked).

You want as much air as possible to get in. So the more holes you can drill - while keeping the integrity of the box intact - the better.
You want as much air as possible to get in. So the more holes you can drill – while keeping the integrity of the box intact – the better.

3. Put the box on bricks (or anything else that will do as ‘feet’) to ensure air can flow up in through the holes.

Standing it on bricks lets the air get to the air holes. No bricks? you can stand it on anything else you can find - like bits of wood.
Standing it on bricks lets the air get to the air holes. No bricks? you can stand it on anything else you can find – like bits of wood.

4. Cover the bottom with a sheet of newspaper. This will help ensure the worms don’t fall out! You don’t need to build Fort Knox – the worms will only try to escape if they’re unhappy – for example if it gets too acid inside (this can happen if too much onion or citrus is added).

A layer of newspaper over the holes will prevent the worms falling out when you first put them in. You can put a drainage layer under this if you like - using eg stones or twigs - but this is not necessary. It can improve aeration, but it also has to be seperated from the worm compost when you harvest it which can be a bit of a hassle.
A layer of newspaper over the holes will prevent the worms falling out when you first put them in. You can put a drainage layer under this if you like – using eg stones or twigs – but this is not essential. It  will improve the aeration, but it also has to be seperated from the worm compost when you harvest it which can be a bit of a hassle.

5. Drill small air holes in the lid and the side at the top. If you’ve got a sheltered place to put your wormery, you can drill plenty of holes in the lid to let air in. But if your wormery will be exposed to the rain, just drill a few – otherwise the box will get water logged in wet weather. You can add more holes to the top sides of the box instead. However you do it, the worms need a good supply of air – without letting in excessive amounts of light (worms need darkness).

 

Drill a line of small air holes in the top sides of the box. You can also put holes in the lid - but not too many if the box will be exposed to the rain a lot.
Drill a line of small air holes in the top sides of the box. You can also put holes in the lid – but not too many if the box will be exposed to the rain a lot.

 

6. Add about half a bucket of worm bedding – enough to cover about an inch in the bottom of your box. The bedding is what your worms will live in when you first put them into the box. You can use worm compost, home made compost, shop bought compost, or coir (coconut fibres) as bedding. The bedding is important to help your worms ‘settle in’ to their new home. They’ll feel happiest in worm compost. That’s because it contains all the microbes that they need. If you’re lucky enough to have a friend with a wormery (see below) ask for some worm compost to use as bedding.  Whatever bedding you use, make sure it is damp, like a rung out flannel.

This is partly decomposed worm compost from another wormery. It makes good bedding for worms. But worm compost is not essential - there are other alternatives.
This is partly decomposed worm compost from another wormery. It makes good bedding for worms. But worm compost is not essential – there are other alternatives.

  7. Add some worms: You can get the right sort of worms on line, from a fishing tackle shop, or a compost heap. Even better, from someone you know with a wormery. An established, healthy wormery will contain several thousand worms. Collect 300 – 500 of these, or as many as you can. The more you start with, the faster your wormery will become productive (worms double their population about once every three months – so your friends wormery will return to full power again in just a few weeks). NB: earthworms – the worms you dig up in garden soil – are not suitable for wormeries.

 

A common name for the worms you use in wormeries is Tiger worms. Various varieties are suitable. You only need one variety, but if you have more than one your wormery can be more efficient. Two common species used are: Dendrobaena venata and Eisenia fetida
A common name for the worms you use in wormeries is Tiger worms. Various varieties are suitable. You only need one variety, but if you have more than one your wormery can be more efficient. Two common species used are: Dendrobaena venata and Eisenia fetida

 

8. Add a small supply of food: tea bags, banana skins, vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, are all good. If you chop it up, the worms will be able to process it faster (don’t liquidise though). You can also add processed and cooked food to a wormery – but avoid adding in any quantity, particularly until your wormery is well established. Also avoid adding onion skins, citrus, very spicey or oily foods. As well as food waste, you need to add about 20 – 30% carbon rich matter – carboard, newspaper or wood chip.

Vegetable peel, banana skins, pea pods, tea and coffee grounds, a bit of pasta - all good food for worms.
Vegetable peel, banana skins, pea pods, tea and coffee grounds, a bit of pasta – all good food for worms.

9. Cover the surface of the worms. Any old cardboard, newspaper or an old towel will do. This helps keep the light out and the moisture in.

 

Here cardboard is being used as a cover - but an old T shirt, towel, or simply some newspaper will do the job just as well. I sometimes give it a quick watering to keep it damp.
Here cardboard is being used as a cover – but an old T shirt, towel, or simply some newspaper will do the job just as well. I sometimes give it a quick watering to keep it damp.

 

 

10. Add the lid. I’d lost the lid for this box, so I’m improvising with an estate agents sign I found discarded in the road. I’ve sandwhiched two pieces of board together with a gap between them. I drilled holes in the bottom piece so that air can get in, but not in the top to keep it waterproof – at least that is the theory!

This lid is improvised from an estate agent sign. It's functional rather than beautiful - and I will be tucking this one out of sight under a small table!
This lid is improvised from an estate agent sign. It’s functional rather than beautiful – and I will be tucking this one out of sight under a small table!

That’s it. All you need to do now is place it in a shady, sheltered spot out of direct sunlight. Feed it a little and often to begin with. Take care not to add too much food at one time or it will become smelly and unattractive to the worms (it putrefies). I plan to write more on caring for wormeries in the future – in the meantime, here’s a piece, In love with worms, that I wrote a while ago with some ideas on what to feed them. 

 

Making your wormery look attractive

I’d be the first to agree that this is not the most beautiful model! So you might want to tuck it out of the way eg under a table. Alternatively you could decorate the plastic box or put plant pots on the top. If you want a more attractive wormery, I’d recommend buying or making one from wood. Wooden wormeries can also double up as benches –  and make ideal seating for small spaces. Wood is also a better insulator than plastic and it breathes better, too.  But a plastic box will work fine and is so easy to make, that’s why I chose to describe here.

 

Here’s a video of how you can do it!

 

242 thoughts on “How to make your own wormery”

  1. Hi, I made my wormery with a large bucket, then a smaller bucket that sits inside with holes at the bottom.. there is no holes in the outer bucket as use this for collecting the ‘tea’.. I have a lid with small holes at the top (I’m hoping there is enough air for them) I put them in the bedding, then compost over them, nearly the whole bucket.. then I put the food waste at the top.. will they come back up to eat? I wish I saw your video first now

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  3. Not really wormery question but anyone know why worms keep appearing in my water butts, the bottom of them is always covered in an inch of worms mostly alive

    1. These are not worms they are mosquito larva commonly known as red worms. I used to get them all the time when I had horses, The vet advised me what they were.

  4. l am wondering what happens to the worm wee!! If there is only 1 box ,do you need to have another box underneath the worm box to catch the liquid?

    1. If the box is well aerated it will evapourate. Worm ‘wee” is just the excess liquid from the vegetables and is controversial as a fertiliser – the wormery experts advise against using it as sometimes it can contain toxins. The best product from a wormery is the compost.

      1. Hi Mark
        I have just found and joined this group, a great resource. I have had my wormery for a few months and it’s going well. I have been excited to collect the liquid, having thought it was a good fertiliser. Having read your post about it possibly containing toxins I am confused, as if we did not take the liquid separately the toxins would be in the compost we eventually use in pots?

        1. Hi Kerry, that’s a good question. The reason is that the biological activity in the wormery is great at breaking any toxins down as the compost matures. I’m not sure how high the risk of using the liquid is – I know many people who have used it on their vegetables for years – but I am sharing the advice of those who have studied and analysed it. So it’s something you need to make your own mind up about.

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  7. Hi Mark,
    I am in my third year using a wormery and followed one source that suggested a plasting dust bin with a tight lid and a tap at the base made a good container,no additional airholes necessary.This may be correct but my population remains small despite regular feeding well within the appropriate categories. They are outside but a thermal water tank jacket provides insulation against extremes of temperature ( use the term “extremes ” loosely as we live alongside the Firth of Forth!) Can you suggest how I may improve the size of my colony?

  8. Hello Mark & the worm world,
    I followed your video and made my first ‘lockdown’ wormery using your advice and all is happy and successful.
    I’ve stumbled across a successful addition which may help others using a single box method to easily access the lower levels for harvesting. I’ve cut oblongs of plastic, squared mesh and ‘sandwiched’ the contents. I can easily lift my four layers without disturbing the colony whilst they pass easily between them.
    I place the bottom one for harvest on top of the latest in daylight for only a short time and the worms scurry off into the lower levels. After emptying the tray of matured compost, I replace the grid on top and will start to feed on top of this, along with some bedding.
    I’ve found it a really easy way of vertical, conveyor-belt harvesting and probably a useful way of peeping at the various layers and aerating them a little.
    Hope this is helpful to those of us who use the basic box system,
    Happy worming, Janet

    1. Madeleine Holmes

      I wondered about doing that – a sort of Tollgren funnel idea to use light or heat at the top,, to get the worms to migrate to the bottom to avoid time spent sifting through compost to avoid losing worms.

  9. This is brilliant, mine is quite successful, the worms seem to be thriving and almost full now and ready to ‘harvest’ my first compost.
    One issue I have though is escapees! I’ve always had them, I’m not sure if they just can’t find their way back in, don’t like the environment or perhaps it’s overcrowding? Is this just a natural fact?
    My wormery is on our 5th floor flat balcony so perhaps it’s more noticeable as the worms have nowhere to go. Any tips gratefully received.

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  11. Simplicity in practice. I’ll be grateful for advice on the best way to separate worms from compost when recovering the compost, presuming that separation is required. Regards. Fraser

    1. When your worm bin is full, most of the worms will be in the top half that you return to the bin, far fewer in the worm compost you harvest. However, if you still want to remove these, you can use light to encourage them – as worms will always move away from bright light into darkness. One method is to put the harvested compost in a sieve, and then place the sieve on the top inside the wormery with the lid off, so that bright light shines on the top. The worms will burrow down, away from the light and back into the wormery.

  12. Hi I’m thinking of setting up a wormery not just for compost but also as a treat for my chickens. Would this be ok?

  13. Hi, great article, but I have to say that when I followed your instructions, and used a 12mm drill bit to make the holes in the bottom, I lost 90% of my brand new worm colony overnight! Apparently there is a phenomenon known as “worm wander” or “crawl-away” (I think), where worms placed in a new environment will make a break for freedom the first couple of nights. In a wormery with small holes, this wouldn’t have been so bad, but using a 12mm hole meant that the Great Escape was on. My colony is gradually expanding again, but it’s taking ages because I was basically reduced to a handful of dozy, slow-moving worms who hadn’t listened when the escape plan was passed round!

    1. Sorry to hear about the great escape, Sue – but glad the worms are now settling. The problem with smaller holes is that they can get clogged up easily – and worms need the air to breath. Did you cover the holes with newspaper before adding the worms, as I suggest?

    2. Madeleine Holmes

      Haha, worms that didn’t listen to the escape plan- I love it! If you had some old net curtains a layer or two could be placed in the bottom, hopefully preventing Escape from Colditz.

  14. Hi, really great video… thank you for the inspiration. I am keeping the wormery made in line with your formula in the garage. I have made a simple cardboard lid with holes. I have sat the lid loosely on top. Is this advisable or do I need a sealed down lid.

    1. Hi,
      I’ve moved into a new house with a big garden… and the previous owner a very keen vegetable gardener. The garden hasn’t been tended to for a long while but I’m keen to start to do it some justice. Wondering around I noticed a couple of compost bins and a bin with a lid and brick on top. I opened this one tentatively and found wet black soil with quite a few worms!! I come to wonder, is this a wormery? I’ve not noticed any holes in the bin and it’s not raised from the ground, it’s close to the house in a shady spot. If it is a wormery can I revive it by adding veg peel, etc?? I’m thinking the worms must be starved although they’re still wriggling around in the black soil! Any tips and tricks would be much appreciated.

    2. Hi,
      I’ve moved into a new house with a generous sized garden… and the previous owner was a very keen vegetable gardener.
      By the back of the house they left a bin with a heavy lid and brick on top. Within I found almost black soil and a good number of worms. I wondered if this was a wormery. There are no air holes I can see and it sits on the ground. If not a wormery would it be possible to convert it into a wormery since I’m gonna need all the compost I can get. After watching the video I wonder if the soil within would serve as wormery compost to get me started.

      Many thanks for all your advice and for the very useful video.

      Laney

      1. It sounds as if it might be a wormery.
        Remove most of the soil into a separate temporary container.
        Add some torn up cardboard, sliced up toilet roll tubes and paper towel tubes, dead leaves or shredded paper into the wormery.
        Add back the soil you removed in step 1.
        Hollow out a shallow depression and add a handful of kitchen scraps.
        Cover with a thin layer of the soil, and a sheet of thin cardboard.
        Check in a couple of days to see if the worms are active and thriving. Add more scraps every week or so.
        Good luck.

  15. Hello Mark from sunny Australia!
    There is a wormery in our garden but I have not been able to find one like it anywhere on the internet to get advice. It is basically a large strong upturned bucket buried about 15 inches into the garden. Presumably it’s bottom is open.. the top which is about 15 inches across has a lid with a handle which you drop onto the bin and click it into place. You won’t believe this but I thought the worms would thrive on the food and garden waste, breed lots of babies and make their way out of the bottom of the wormery to populate the garden soil!!!! When you have stopped laughing, you will be pleased to hear that I have realised my folly.
    I have followed your every word, but have one question. Assuming that the compost should be lifted from the bin, how does that happen without damaging the worms. The top of this bin is only 15″. It is far too solidly set in the ground to move it. Your instructions will be so appreciated. My thanks in advance.. Joan.

    1. That sounds like a dog dunny to me mate, I use to have one in my yard, basically, you drop the doo doo in it ,you sprinkle it with enzyme and it disintegrates, it’s like a mini septic system.

      Duncan.

  16. Very informative article, thanks . I’ve been thinking of a wormery for a while . I have a composting box which fits your description quite well – it’s about half full at the moment with leaves , grass cuttings , twigs and cardboard and has holes drilled into the side. I put veg peelings and overripe fruit etc in it but no cooked food . Can I just get some worms and put them straight in ?

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  18. I know I’m writing rather a lot but I’ve found some of my worms dead I the wormery. What have I done wrong? I don’t want to hunt around to see if there are any alive – so far I’ve found one – but I’ve obviously done something, or not done something I should have. Help!!!

    1. I think if they are settling into a new environment you may need to be a little bit patient. If you’ve followed the instructions then you should be ok. Try to ensure they don’t get too hot in this weather, keep your wormery as shaded as you can.

      I will be starting again shortly, my worms didn’t make it through the bitter winter of a couple of years ago and I had been concentrating on my hot composting last year.

      1. Thanks, Steve. I have tried to be a bit more patient. My wormery is shaded and protected from rain etc, but with plenty of air. I’m aware there are at least a few worms wriggling around, albeit slowly, so I’m heartened by the thought that if they don’t escape they must be at least reasonably happy!!
        Good luck with your new wormery! M

  19. Hi Mark,
    I got my live worms yesterday from Wormcity. They were alive and wriggling slowly. I put them in my bin wormery with some veg peelings etc, and a little bit of water to dampen the contents. I was excited to check on them this morning and add some more food, but there’s no sign. 🙁 The Wormcity leaflet says the wormery needs a lid to prevent them escaping, so the lid was on. Am I being impatient in wanting to see them happily wriggling around or are they hiding in the dark, doing what they do naturally? Thanks. MJ

  20. Any reason I couldn’t make one out of old pallet wood rather than plastic? Sure it would rot away after a while but it would be free and easy to make and I could do the multiple layer thing I see in some designs. (Good post btw. Thanks)

    1. Wood is actually a much better material for a wormery – it insulates and breathes better. I keep meaning to write another post about this (I only did it with a plastic box as that is the easiest). You need good air flow. I use wire mesh for the base to enable this (also it doesn’t rot). Take care to make it rat proof, rats are pain if they get in.

  21. Hi Great article, I am going to do this! I have loads of untreated wool that I keep getting sent around veg and meatboxes as packaging, I wondered if this would be ok on top or would it be too warm or the lanolin bad for the worms. Thanks!! Vicky

  22. I’ve been thinking about making a wormery for a while, ever since our old dustbins became obsolete. So today was it. I’ve followed your instructions although haven’t drilled holes in the lid of the dustbin yet cos it’s a bit thick! But will find a way. I look forward to seeing what happens. thanks for this info!

    1. Great! As long as you have plenty of holes in the side of the bin, you don’t need any in the lid. Unless you can put it in a spot sheltered from the rain, it might be best not to put holes in the lid as this can result in the wormery getting rather wet inside, particuclarly with the amount of rain we’ve had recently.

      1. I think I’ll take the lid off until it rains. I think Covid19 might have caught up with me so won’t be doing any drilling for the next few days. Probably best to let the air in and only cover it when it rains. It’s quite sheltered but would still get quite wet. So you think it’s OK to order worms online at the moment? I don’t want anything to die if it takes too long to get them here. thanks.

  23. Would it be ok to put in weeds like dandelion roots? Will the worms eat them all up or should I carry on putting them in the bin?
    Thanks

    1. Yes, Ros, it is ok to put most weed roots in (might be best to avoid Japanese Knotweed though!). Chop them up when you add them and they will quickly decompose. However, it is best to avoid adding the seeds of weeds if you can – as these often survive the composting process.

  24. If you use tea bags, please cut them open, empty the tea leaves into yoyr wormery and throw the tea bag in your rubbish bin. The tea bag contains dreaded plastic, and we don’t want anymore of that in our environment then we have to.

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  26. Love! Love! Love this!

    We’ve been growing our own fruit and vegetables for the last few years, and we have our own home-made wormery that we fill with dry vegetables, egg-shells, old teabags, dried coffee granules and grass cuttings.

    The compost created has been amazing such that we don’t need to add anything else, just some hay and a few words of whispering for good luck!

    We already had our wormery before I saw your blog but I like this description so much that I have added your post to an article I wrote about growing your own food on my blog.

    The article is called – 7 Christmas gifts that don’t cost a single thing, and 7 gifts that do – 2019/2020! and here’s the link: https://thebritishberliner.com/2019/12/15/7-christmas-gifts-that-dont-cost-a-single-thing-and-7-gifts-that-do-2019-2020/

    If it’s alright that will be cool, if not, feel free to remove the link part.

    1. Hi,

      My worms have arrived, I’ve followed the instructions carefully, three days in and the coir compost bedding seems a little dry and the worms sluggish. Can I add a little water? When do I add lime? Thanks in advance!

      1. Yes, if the bedding seems dry, it is a good idea to add a little water – worms like moisture. Sometimes I soak cardboard in water and add that. I don’t use lime and it is not necessary to run a healthy wormery if fed correctly. Others who do may be able to give you advice on how and when to add it.

      2. Hi! This is a great question. Thank you. I ordered my worms yesterday and am quite worried about them taking longer than usual to arrive, given the present situation. So it’s useful to read the question and the answer.

  27. As I understand it the tea is brilliant for feeding nutrient hungry veg that quickly deplete compost of it’s nutrients – it is more than just veg juices. I had some off someone else and it was very good diluted on my tomatoes. I have created a quick compost heap in one of those recycling boxes which has filled up naturally with the red worms. Have made it a bit more wormery like with a couple of layers and a lid and will try to find a way to harvest the tea too. Started it off with a shovel ful of garden soil which worked a treat. Was expecting a box of veggie scraps and it was almost compost after only a few weeks… Also people are worrying about moving the worms out.. I thought the set up of a wormery was so that when the worms had exhausted the food, they move into the new undigested layer so the compost you are removing would have very few in there… Am I wrong here?

    1. Juliet, from what I’ve learnt, worm ‘tea’ is a variable product – it depends a lot on how it is made and what ingredients are added to the wormery. It will often contain some beneficial nutrients and, importantly, also beneficial microbes. I’ve also read that sometimes it can contain less beneficial constituents that may inhibit germination and growth, but I don’t have conclusive evidence of this. I’d recommend using it with an open mind, observing the results, and adjusting how you use it accordingly. Would be interested to hear how you get on.

      You are correct that most worms move to the new undigested layer but some worms do usually remain in all the layers. However, they are beneficial added to your pots so I don’t worry too much about them. But, if you want to, it is easy to remove them it wanted – just put your compost in a soil sieve in bright light above the wormery – and the worms will burrow down, away from the light and fall back into the wormery below.

    1. Yes, assuming you are in UK? You also want to make sure it isn’t in full sun (particularly if it is black plastic) or in a very exposed, cold spot. I’ve had three wormeries outside for over ten years in the UK (first in London, then Newcastle) and all have survived winter so far!

  28. Hi Mark – great site – definitely gonna try the worm bin when the weather warms up. Just one question – how do I get the compost out of the worm bin – is there any particular method and when would be the appropriate time to do this? Cheers

    1. Keep adding (slowly) to the bin until it is full. Then it is time to harvest. Just remove the contents with your hands (wear gloves). Put the top half to one side (eg in a bucket), and harvest the remaining half or so (the part which looks fully rotted down) for your plants, then return the top half (where most of the worms will be) to the bin.

      1. Further to Jack’s question, if I’m using the finished compost in pots & containers can I use it neat or should I blend it? If so, what sort of ratios given that Spring will be here & we’ll be starting seeds, potting on seedlings, refreshing established plants in containers, etc?
        Sorry, question quickly became detailed…😄

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  30. Thanks, subscribed & looking forward to reading further.
    I intend to make a three tiered wormery. Leachate collection on the bottom, bedding & food on the second until full, then bedding/food on top to move into.
    My question is- is it necessary for the top level’s base to be in physical contact with the middle level’s compost surface?

    1. Hi Darren, good question, yes I think the top level base does need to make physical contact with the middle level’s compost to enable the worms to migrate up (and down). I have a three layered wormery – what I do is overfill the middle tray before adding the top level. This is because the level in the middle tray will slowly subside as it rots down – so overfilling helps ensure it remains in contact with the top level.

      1. Thanks Mark, I guess overfilling middle layer with moist but minimally nutritious stuff would help layer migration too.

  31. Hi Mark
    Thanks for the great instructions. I’m keen to give this a go for worm compost for my allotment. I have a spare box similar to the one you show which I plan to use. I wanted to ask, is now an ok time of year to start the wormery or would it be better to wait until next spring?

    1. Hi Jen, you are probably ok now, best if you can put it in a protective place (out of wind, ideally in a shed or garage) over winter. Established wormeries are easier to overwinter as they have more biomass – which means it is easier for the worms to retreat into a warm huddle in the middle. It’s less risk starting one in the spring – so you might want to wait – but the benefit of starting now is that you can get a head start.

      1. I’ve read a lot about this doing my homework and it’s so refreshing to see your no nonsense straight forward approach. So easy to understand and now I’m confident tha my wormery will be somewhat successful. Fingers crossed. Thank you.
        Paul

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    1. I just started a wormery a month or so ago, & I put a pc of rope in the bottom of the plastic bin. It has a couple knots in it to keep it in place & keep the worms in, and it runs into a plastic bottle, where it drips the juicy stuff. I already have some in there, now I just have to convince my wife to drink it, uh, I mean to give it to her plants!!!! I’m doing this for the worms for fishing, the excellent compost is just a side advantage.

  34. I have a wormery which I use for worms I have only fed them dried powder milk so far and I use a compost bin about two feet high I’m starting to introduce other foods soon, my problem is I’m getting lots of snails inside the lid and I’ve seen maggots too is this normal???? Thanks in advance

  35. Hi Mark -just followed your instructions to set up a wormery.
    I bought 3 boxes of Boxa worms (compost worms in boxes in their own compost) and have buried these in bought bedding compost. I introduced them 4 days ago. It looks like I have a massive exodus on my hands…..
    Is this normal in the first few days? Is there any way to settle them in?
    Thanks, Rachel

    1. Hi Rachel

      Yes it is quite normal for worms to want to leave a new wormery, particularly if the bedding is unfamiliar to them. This is why the ideal bedding is worm compost (or homemade compost) – but this is often quite hard to get when you are starting out. It might be they don’t like the brand of bought compost. Hopefully they will soon settle down. If you are in the UK (I think you are?) the worms will be eating very little at the moment because it is quite cold – so take care not to feed them too much as the food will go rancid and the worms will not like that!

      Good luck, I hope they settle soon.

      Mark

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  37. HI Mark,

    Happy New Year.

    After seeing your video we made a wormery in the spring and housed it in our shed.

    One issue we seemed to have though that rather than the level of material in the wormery going up it seemed to go down as time went on. Some was lost through the bottom. And some we sort of put down to settling of contents but even giving it a bit of churn it seemed to be shrinking.

    One thing that the churn did prove though was that there were still worms in there. We were worried that they had all passed on. I’ve made a second box now as I wondered whether we had reached a sort of population plateau for the area that the box contained. And split the bedding between the two and added a bit more ordinary compost too.

    I do have a large number of slugs (leopard type) that seem to keep invading the box. To start with I was quite pleased as we have quite a large slug population and I understand that the leopard ones cannibalize their brethren. But Now I am worried that they find my worms easy pickings and have started to pick them out of the box!

    Thank you so much for the video. Do you or anyone else who watches have any further handy hints to share in relation to our wormy experiences?

    1. Hi Steve, the volume of new material you add does shrink dramatically as it decomposes. I don’t know the exact figures off the top of my head but at a quick guess, 10litres of food waste may only produce 2litres of compost.

    2. As far as I know, leopard slugs eat the decomposing food, and while I think they may eat other slugs, I’ve not heard of them eating worms before. If they do, I don’t think they eat enough to cause too much of a problem – I have many leopard slugs in my wormeries and literally thousands of worms! I may be wrong but its not a problem I’ve heard about before.

    1. You need to put the wormery box inside another box or on a tray to catch the liquid. I prefer to use the worm compost rather than liquid feed (as it is more consistent) so I tend to build wormeries with lots of air holes so the liquid evaporates and the goodness remains in the compost.

  38. My garden and compost here in Wales has many earthworms, but I would still very much like to make a wormery. Why are earthworms not viable for a wormery? The soil in our back garden was scraped by building contractors and taken away. It’s taken me many years of caring for the soil to get in good condition and want to continue this. I also have a huge amount of some of the biggest bloody slugs you’ve ever seen (and no, nematodes have not helped AT ALL).
    Also, do wormerys need special care during cold weather?
    So, what do you think? Thanks in advance, Katie

    1. Hi Katie, the worms from your compost – usually smaller reddish ones – will be fine in a wormery. It is the larger earth worms / lug worms that are not suitable, I’m told. Wormeries are fine in cold weather – put them in a sheltered space, make sure they have a large volume of organic material (so they can retreat and keep warm) and feed them much less – or the food will go rancid. Hope this helps. Mark

      1. I also live in Wales. If you can get some compost from a horse muck heap it will almost certainly contain the right sort of worms! 🙂

      2. the earthworms you are refering to are LOB worms ( large with a flattened tail) Lug worms live in tidal mud on the coast.
        Mike

    1. If you want the liquid you’ll need to add a tap. However, if you add enough air holes the liquid mostly evapoourates and you get a lovely rich worm compost as a result. to harvest the compost, just take out the top half, put to one side, and your harvest is the bottom half. Remove that to use and then put the top half back in. Hope that makes sense!

    1. Yes, you can. Best to chop up in small pieces first. Having said that, the general rule with wormeries is to not add too much of anyone ingredient. So wormeries work well for small amounts of plant waste, less well for larger amounts. For larger volumes, a compost bin is more suitable, if you have space for one.

  39. Hi Mark
    I’m trying to find an Australian company that makes wormeries suitable for a family of four to use.
    Any contacts there?

      1. I forgot to mention that the worm farm from Bunnings is the same one as I got free from the council. If you get this one, superglue the two air vents to the lid or else they keep falling out when you lift the lid. Also the legs aren’t attached that well either and fall off when I’m emptying the worm poo so I’m going to ask hubby to rivet the legs to the worm farm.

        1. Please, please don’t use supdrglue!
          1. It is not waterproof! If you have ever accidentally stuck your fingers together with the stuff ( as I did!!), water will dissolve it, albeit slowly.
          2. It is a biohazard and toxic to many small animals and micro-organisms – possibly to the works as well. Maybe try using plastic-weld…

  40. Do i have to collect compost from my wormery once its up and running to keep it clean. I only want to collect a few worms for fishing.

  41. Hello.
    I’m looking to make a dog poo wormery for use on a path over my land that people walk their dogs on to encourage it being picked up so children can enjoy the walk more.
    Would a wooden one work better? and have you got any advice for one being used by the public?
    Many thanks

  42. Hi Mark,
    I have heard that worm tea is very good for the garden or pot plants, how to you collect the worm tea?

  43. Hi Mark
    I’m just harvesting my first batch of worm compost which I want to add to potting compost for potting some patio plants. I’ve found that the worm compost is absolutely full of white baby worms so I’m not sure whether to use it or not.
    Any suggestions?
    Thanks

    1. Hi Kevin

      I think it will be fine to use, the white worms are helping in the decomposition process, and I can’t see they’ll cause any problems. Anyone else have direct experience of this?
      Mark

      1. Hi there,

        I read once that you could shine direct light to the part that you are planning glto take the compost. Then the worms will shift to a different spot.

        Hope this might help.

        Cheers,
        Jinting

        1. I have found that when I collect the worm castings from the worm farm there are quite a few worms mixed in with it. If there is a cluster of worms I pick them up and put them back in the worm farm but quite a few go into the soil with the castings. My veggies are grown in big containers not open ground. I notice that the compost worms don’t survive and it sounds cruel I know but when they die they are also fertilizing the soil. But there are lots of other bigger garden worms in the soil which is in very good condition. The secret is to make sure I leave enough composting worms in the worm farm to chomp through the peelings and tea bags, etc.

  44. Hi,
    My question is one of a slightly larger scale. I have a rather sizeable garden (New development with poor drainage in the topsoil). A colleague has recommended that if I increase the amount of worms in the soil it would improve the drainage (Tunneling) and increase the impoverished nutrient content thus leading to less standing water and better quality soil and grass. However, after a bit of reading, I would seemingly require 1 kilo of worms per 10sqm. So quite a lot, and quite costly.. If I constructed a wormery similar to described herein, on a larger scale using the red wiggler or Tiger variety and lets presume it multiplies successfully. Can these worms be directly introduced into the garden and will they survive and actually achieve what I am hoping for?

    Many thanks

    1. Hi Tim, I’m not sure that tiger worms would survive in your soil – they tend to live more in leaf litter in the wild, I think. This is not an area I’m an expert on – but I think you’ll need to see if you can breed something like lob worms. Bubbleworms can probably offer you advice if you get in touch with them.

    2. Leslie Potter

      Tim, ive been breeding worms for many years, using old plastic dustbins, although tiger worms would not like your heavy soil, the compost they produce would greatly help your heavy soil when dug in and would encourage the larger lobworms into your soil also leaf mould would be very good, collect all the leaves you can and keep in black bags to help the decomposition then dig into the heavy soil

  45. Hi Mark,
    this may have already been asked so apologies if I missed it when reading through the Q & A…
    When harvesting the compost out of the homemade wormery (as in using in garden as compost) will I loose all my worms in the process? Do I need to sort through compost and return worms to wormery?
    yours confused.

    1. Leslie Potter

      I use a sieve when harvesting compost as long as some worms go back in the bin they will keep on breeding

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  47. Hello Mark, thank you for this.
    We run a professional kitchen and have a lot of compostables. Our compost “Heap” is not an efficient way to deal with it. Is there a approx. ratio of worms to cubic Metre? is there any tips on large scale wormeries? Also, when I want to use the compost, do I pick the worms out or add them to the garden? Many thanks…
    Steve

    1. Hi Steve
      You certainly can run a large scale wormery. On the top of Budgens in Crouch End they had an old bath they converted into a wormery and where a lot of the stores food waste was composted (this was before the garden was closed down). They did have issues processing a lot waste food in a wormery initially, but they soon got it working. The surface area is important – the larger the surface area, the more you can compost. Also, if you have a lot of food waste, you need to mix it with a carbon source like cardboard or woodchip. Start with as many worms as you can and they’ll soon multiply to fill up the wormery. Others here with more direct experience of larger wormeries may be able to offer you more advice.

  48. Hello!

    I just wondered, if you make a home-made wormery, how do you harvest the end product? Is it worm tea, or rich compost that is produced?

    Thank you!

      1. Most Wormeries you can purchase have a void at the bottom of the container There is a tap into this void During the composting phase liquid is collected in the void This is able to be run off ……hence the term Worm Tea This can be diluted with water and poured on to plants as a natural fertiliser This feature is not included in home made Wormeries unless you create a false bottom in the container and fit a tap Hope this helps

  49. Hi Mark, I have wanted to do this for a number of years now, but the thing that is holding me back is I have New Zealand flat worms. I think that I am slowly getting rid of them as the earth worms are now returning to the garden.If I keep the boxes of the ground on stilts would I be able to safety start breeding. my worms?
    Regards Peter

  50. I’m a bit confused. It states that you can get worms from a compost heap, but then it goes on to say, that ordinary earthworms are not suitable.

  51. Why are garden worms a no-no ?
    Can I mix garden worms and ‘wormery’ worms?
    I fancy a wormery for longer term use, but would like a way to save my garden worms or worms from the tackle shop if theyre not used at the end of a session.

    Cheers Fella!

    1. Good question, I’m not entirely sure, but I think that they don’t live in such large populations as compost worms. I can’t see there is any harm in trying a mix – as long as the garden worms can escape if they decide they don’t like living alongside the hundreds of compost worms!

      1. There are lots of different types of earthworm that have different habitats within the soil, eat different things and thus do different “jobs” in the soil. It’s like chickens and owls are both birds but they live quite different lives and we wouldn’t expect to get lots of eggs from an owl or for a chicken to be able to catch a mouse (more info http://www.earthwormsoc.org.uk/earthworm-ecology)

        1. Oddly enough, chickens can and do catch mice and devour them whole. I have two chicken coops and absolutely no issues at all with small rodents trying to pinch their food.

  52. Hello Mark,
    I am about to take the plunge with a half a kilo of tigers. Excuse my ignorance but will the worms multiply? if so, say I feed them once a week, how long before there are twice as many worms … or is it a bit more complex than that? Can I take the extras and spread them around a lasagne compost bed?

    1. In good conditions the worms should double in number every 3 months or so (not in winter though). This is great because once your wormery is fully established (this may take a year or two), you can take large handfuls out for your lasagne gardening and they will be replaced pretty quick.

    2. Hi Tim, yes the worms will double in number roughly every three months or so as long as they are happy and in good conditions (not when cool in winter). This is great because, once your wormery is established (this may take a year or two), you can remove large handfuls of worms for other uses knowing that they will quickly replace themselves.

  53. Hi Mark
    What a fantastic video. I’m not the most practical of people, but even I now feel inspired to have a go!
    What I wanted to ask you is do you feed them every day?
    Thanks
    Sandra.

  54. Hi Mark,
    I’ve had great success with my wormery, so much so I want to.expand it!
    Would it work to just make another like the one here and stack them so the worms can make their way up through thw bottom of the next box up?
    I have more boxes to use but wondering what your thoughts are on this?

    1. Hi Aimee, yes that can work well – as long as the boxes slot inside each other so that the worms can easily move from one box to another. And put lots of holes in the bottoms of the boxes to make lots of passage ways for the worms!

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  57. Hi Mark is safe to use in the wormery? I have constructed mine as you showed in the video and my worms and bedding arrive tomorrow.
    Stan

    1. Hi Debby, you can put a tray underneath. Opinions vary, but personally I find the worm compost a much more useful and nice to use product than the worm wee so I don’t bother trying to collect the wee (which is basically just liquid veg run-off with a few microbes as far as I understand – please correct me if I’m wrong). The more aeration you have in your wormery, the less liquid run off you’ll get. Commercial plastic womeries often produce a lot of worm wee because they are not very well ventilated.

  58. Hi Mark, thanks so much for sharing your ideas and experience, I’m loving my wormery.
    Can you tell me if adding chicken poo will do harm or good?

  59. Hi, I have all the bits together to make my wormery but wondered if i could add chipped hemp, I use it as bedding for my chickens and ducks. It is probable that there would be some droppings in there too but I’m unsure if that would be detrimental to the worms or not. I just figured that the hemp would be good as a brown matter substitute.

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  64. Hi Mark,

    I was given a wormery a couple of years ago but have thus far managed to kill two batches of worms. I think I was probably a little over-zealous in what I was putting in their tray and they were unable to cope with it all; therefore, a lot of it went putrid and they either moved out or died…

    I had moved away from the wormery because it was costing me every time I bought a new bunch of worms (and not wanting to harm more worms). I recently started a normal garden compost bin which appears to be going well. Recently however, when I open the lid, the compost bin is crawling with worms. Are these the correct type of worms I would require for my wormery and could I harvest some of them to re-start the wormery? I know the instruction for the wormery state that they require “special worms that can rarely be found in the average garden” (i.e. Tiger Worms), but have I infact grown my own little colony of Tiger (or similar) worms in the compost bin?

    Grateful for your thoughts. Thanks.

  65. Hi. Being a wormery novice, i couldn’t work this out. How do you harvest the nutrients from the wormery to use elsewhere. Do you have a tray underneath? A tap? Help?

    1. Hi Barbara

      The liquid is only one of the nutrients you can get out of a wormery…. and if you have a well ventilated wormery, you won’t get the liquid as it will evapourate and become part of the compost. The liquid itself is basically just the excess liquid from your fruit and veg – it does have some nutrients in it and some useful life (bacteria etc) but I prefer to use the worm compost – which you harvest from the bottom of the wormery every few months once the wormery is established.

      1. I’m still not sure how harvesting works. As there is no tray or removable bottom on the box, am I right in thinking that you have to empty the contents, take the compost out of the bottom and then re-layer the whole thing again?

        1. Yes, Delia, that is exactly how you need to do it. It’s fairly easy but can be a bit messy. If the idea of harvesting this way puts you off you could build a wormery with trays instead – to harvest you simply remove the bottom tray.

          1. Hi Mark
            I’ve made my wormery out of three plastic bins using the bottom one to just collect the ‘fluid run-off’ and have filled one completely and have started a second one sitting straight on top. I am now about to ‘harvest’ the compost from the first bin but need to separate the worm. Is there a better method than going through it with a fine tooth comb to collect them or is there a another method.
            Thanks, Derek

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  67. i have made my wormery from a water butt with tap, i put bricks in the bottom to hold up the plastic dustbin lid i drilled holes in and covered with cardboard and newspaper, i put coir bedding in and a bag of rotting leaves, it was a coiuple of week before i ordered my tiger worms 500gms arrived 2 days ago tho when o looked in yesterday some are crawling up the side and i notice the odd ant and wood louse in there too, will ants upset my worms? also i have noted from others i should have air holes up top of my bin which i have not got but will rectify this today

    1. Woodlice are good in a wormery, great they moved in so soon. Ants probably won’t do any harm but can sometimes be a sign its a bit dry in there. Ideally it should be damp like a rung out sponge – if not, you might want to add a little water or soaked cardboard to dampen it up.

      1. thanks Mark for your reply, i did add some water to hopefully send the ants on their way (I think they may have been in the leaf mould i added) and regulary am adding a few pages of torn up wet newspaper on top of the veg waste to keep the worms in the dark when i open the lid. they dont seem to be wanting to slide up the sides now which is good… do i need to drill air holes up the top end? my worry was them escaping but i suppose tiny holes would be ok or will they be fine without holes as i let oxygen in when i open it and there is a couple of foot of emptyness above surface of food, its sheltered in between 2 sheds and no sun till late morning for a couple of hours at most so doesn’t get too hot though i will check this out today while i am at home

  68. Hi Mark, just made my first wormery to your specification and had 1/2 kilo of worms delivered today so am up and running; the box is 15 x 12 x 8 inches deep. My question is “will my wormery survive if left without food being added for up to 2 months”?

    Regards Peter

  69. Hi, I’m going to make a wormery following your instructions, but I’m wondering how do you collect the worm tea?

  70. Hi, I have just been given an old plastic dustbin with a lock down plastic lid, I guess this would be ideal for a wormery. I’m a match angler so would alway’s need a good supply of the little wrigglies. You video was excellent, and also looks easy. not quite sure where I can get worm compost, would ordinary compost do? the rest sounds easy. Thank you …….Regards,……….Richard.

    1. Do you mean for the bedding Richard? If so, ordinary compost is fine. Your bin will do the job – its probably deeper than is needed (surface area is more important with wormeries than depth) but it should work fine. You may not want to fill it to the top.

      1. Hi Mark, Thank you for your valued answer. I have now completed the wormery, so its off to the tackle shop for 2 or 3 tubs of worms to get it started. Oh, I forgot, can you put grass cuttings in the wormery?
        Regards,………. Richard.

        1. A few grass clippings are fine – the general rule with wormeries is not too much of any one thing. If you have a lot of grass, another way to use it is as a mulch on the top of your pots.

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  72. Hi Mark,

    I am completely to wormery, so I wanted to know after how long can the compost be ready for harvest and how much one expect to get from the one you demonstrated.

    thanks,

    Derby

    1. Hi Derby,it depends on a few things – like how many worms you start with and how warm it is (worms won’t do much in winter) and what you feed it with. But usually you’ll get a little after 6 – 9 months, becoming more productive in year two. I get a washing up bowl full about once every two to three months from the wormery I made in that video – from March to October. In winter I just feed it a little and don’t harvest it. Its probably possible to get more than that – but as I have four wormeries I don’t always give each one the attention they deserve. You can also speed up the process by combining it with bokashi (see my post on bokashi) – this can work well, you just need to take care not to add too much bokashi at one time.

  73. Mother Sarvakanthie

    Keep it simple stupid the kiss formula,Simple living,High thinking, You made it so simple Mark I bought 3 plastic bins going to try it sometime as soon as time permits.everything was simply explained.Congratulations

  74. Hi, Mark, Just like to thank you for such an interesting and informative talk today ~ I’ll be making a wormery using your instructions!

  75. Hi Mark
    I live in Chicago with just a roof deck but seem to generate plenty of waste for a wormery. Trouble is we have extremes of temperatures. Currently it’s in the minus degrees fahrenheit (whatever that is in new money) and goes way up into the 90’s F in summer. How much protection would you suggest to keep them alive all year round? Thanks

    1. Where are you keeping it Derek? A shady place, protected from the wind will help. Also making a sure there is a reasonable biomass in the bin in winter + add a good layer of paper shredding for further insulation to the top. You could also wrap the whole bin in an old carpet to give it extra insulation in winter – and make sure it is shaded from the sun and kept moist in summer. To be fair, though, I don’t have experience of running a worm bin in temps as extreme as yours, so do try to get advice from someone in your region if you can. Can any other readers offer advice to Derek?

      1. Thanks Mark
        I haven’t built it yet, just at the planning stage… I can do the shady place under a staging which would be protected from sun and wind but ambient temperatures summer and winter are a bit excessive. However a friend may well have contacts in the area and I will look to them for advice. Thanks again, Derek

  76. Hi Mark,
    I have just made a keyhole planter in my garden, which is ideal for the small space.
    I have put composting worms in the middle,have you seen the planters?
    it looks like a great way of growing.
    regards
    peter

  77. Hi
    We are thinking of making a wormary as the rats are profiting from the vegetable waste we put on our compost heap. We generate 6 to 10 litres or 2 gallons of vegetable waste a week so is there any suggestion of how big a wormary we would need?

    1. Normally I’d recommend asking this question on this very useful forum (http://vermicomposters.ning.com/) however it seems to be besieged by spam at the moment… The surface area of a wormery determines how much food you can feed it – so this is the key factor for you to consider. 10 litres of waste is quite a lot. You’ll either need one large wormery or several small ones. I’m sure I’ve seen a formula somewhere to work it out but I can’t remember it. At a rough guess I’d say you’d probably need a wormery of 3 to 4 foot long by 2 foot wide – something in that ballpark anyway. Hope this helps!

    2. The other option would be bokashi the food the rats like and then bury it in the compost heap – this would probably deter them and would also speed up the rate of decomposition in your compost heap.

  78. There is a large wormery near my daughters house in Queensland Australia the ownner tells me that he sells all the liquid to the strawberry farmers who let it down 40 to 1 and they swear by it.
    Cliff

  79. Great project but it looks like you are losing a great nutrient resource from your wormery because the liquid is draining out of the bottom of the box drainage holes. I suggest you should have another old recycling box with no holes in the bottom, with a brick or something to keep the active worm box clear of the bottom of the liquid catchment box. Otherwise you are losing all the valuable worm-pee!

  80. Hi.
    Could you not use multiple recycling boxes with holes, and stack them when full. So the worms migrate upwards like they do in (very expensive) tray wormeries? Might give it a go…
    Brian

  81. I am in Turkey and brought worms back with me from the uk. I have them in a bucket at the moment and want to move them into something where I can separate the compost. Will this disturb them? Also I want to add some manure type compost that has a lot of worms to them, is it ok to do this?
    Thank you

  82. I know the book to help you wormers get started. Its a mind of information and is available on Amazon….. Composting with worms. Why waste your waste. Written in the UK for UK wormeries!

  83. This has really inspired me to have a go at building a wormery for my allotment.
    Is now a good time to start a wormery or does it not matter?
    Should I move the wormery into the polytunnel in the winter?
    aman

  84. How do you take the compost away without taking away half the worms or disturbing them? I’d love to make one!!!!
    Thanks
    Kaz

    1. Hi, you can’t avoid disturbing them a bit, but they quickly settle back in. Just take out the top half or so (this is where the majority of worms will be) and put it in a bowl or bag while you harvest the compost at the bottom. Alternatively you can put a divide across the middle of the box and drill holes in it (for the worms to crawl through) – then fill one side of the box and then the other. The worms should migrate from the side with the finished compost into the the newer material.

  85. I teach preschool and would like to use a clear container to make something for kids to watch worms in my classroom. Is there a reason that wormeries are plastic instead of glass?

    1. Great idea! Worms don’t like light which is why you don’t see glass ones around much. But check out george pulling ton and nurturing nature – he makes them with a glass panel so kids can see in. The panel is covered when not being viewed I think.

  86. i contacted out local organic compost wormery and they mentioned that protein was important for them and calcium so they use cereals and beans for protein and eggshell waste for calcium. just thought id mention that for any vegetarian wormers that they can add the dust at the end of cereal packets as a good source of cereals for them to get their protein:) I’m just making a new wormery now have made one for the doug poop in my yard not sure what i will do with it but now making a vegetable one for my veggies. you can also feed them your run of the mill peat compost that you buy in a store and once it has been digested by the worms it is considered organic! so long as there is no gmo!

  87. Mark, Great informative site. I built a worm bin 4’x8′ with the idea to catch the leachate to spray on fields and make tea from the worm castings. I feed them paper shreds from work and discarded vegetables from the local grocery store. Means, good and bad, includes onions, citrus, garlic etc. I pre-rot the vegetables in a barrel and add in layers with the shavings. They have been eating about a 30 gallon bag of shavings every two weeks. I have been collecting the leachate, about 10 gallons per month.

    Now i read in several sites that the leachate is not a good product rather it is anaerobic and should be discarded. What is your opinion of leachate?

    Worm castings – the worms are vigorously working the top of the bin but i may have loaded it too fast. Now a foot deep, the lowest section(4-6″) smells similar to good dirt, but there is a middle section that is not fully broken down and not many worms. Too wet, too much food, wrong kind of food?

    Thanks

    1. Hi Mark, i read the same thing about leachate (for others reading this, leachate is another name for the liquid sometimes called worm tea that runs off wormeries) so my wormeries are not designed to collect it. On the other hand, some experienced gardeners I know swear by it – so its one of these things thats hard to fathom – is it good or not. I wish I knew the answer! If you discover more info, I’d love to hear.
      In answer to your other questions, you are operating on a much larger scale than I have experience of and this tends to throw up a different range of issues. I’d recommend trying to get in touch with vermicomposters working on a commercial scale or perhaps look up this site: http://vermicomposters.com/

    2. Hi,
      Leachate Is as the name imply’s liquid that leaches from the bottom of your bin. In a bin if you are getting liquid leaching from the bottom of your bin then it is way to moist. Second leachate is anaerobic and should be treated using an airstone in a container using 50% water 50% leachate then add 2 table spoons of raw sugar per 5 gallon bucket. Add 3 or 4 good air stones plus an aquarium air pump. Let it bubble for 24 hours in warm weather and 48 hours plus for colder weather. Use
      raw sugar and not molasses as molasses is the end product with very little nutrient or mineral value. raw sugar is loaded with many nutrients minerals and vitamins.
      Oh yes the sugar is for the bacteria to feed on and multiply. Just to add a little something else to help your castings a little sprinkle of rock dust over your bin.
      Also may be a good idea to add a little calcium carbonate to make sure the pH is not dropping to low. Don’t use garden lime. Not all castings are created equal. Hope this helps a little.
      Best Wishes, Barry.

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  89. Hi, very nice and usefull blog I found today after reading your article in Permaculture Magazine 🙂
    A couple of questions: do you use vermicompost straight after harvesting or it need a minimum time to “rest”? Probably sometime it need to be stocked longer, is there a maximum time it can “rest”?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Pierre
      Really glad to hear you’re finding some useful stuff here. Worm compost is ready to use as soon as its harvested (sometimes it benefits from a sieve first). Probably the sooner the better – one of the great things about worm compost is all the microbial life that lives in it – this will be high when the compost is fresh but will slowly diminish over time. It does however keep fine for a while – I keep it in a plastic bucket with an ill fitting lid so that air can still get in so that the worms in can continue to live. I’ve kept it fine for two or three months. It may well keep even longer, but three months or so is the longest I’ve kept it for.
      Happy worm farming!
      Mark

    1. Hi Charlie, the same procedure should work fine. If you want big, fat healthy worms then adding a bit off well rotted horse manure every now and again will help with this. (But is not essential).

  90. Hi!, my question is, how do you prepare your wormery for winter? I live in Québec and here, winters are very cold! You got ideas?

    P.S. I very love your website!

    1. Hi Michael
      There’s a few things you can do
      1. Make sure the wormery is nearly full (ie don’t empty the worm casts just before it gets cold). The more volume you have, the less likely it will be to freeze – the worms will all congregate in the centre.
      2. Place the wormery out of the way of strong winds and put it the warmest spot you can find – somewhere inside is ideal but most of us don’t have space for that.
      3. You can try and add extra insulation to the wormery eg wrap it in a blanket or in bubble wrap (I’ve never found this necessary but I don’t think our winters are as cold as yours).
      4. Take care not to overfeed the worms during the cold months – the food will go rancid – although keep an eye on them and feed as necessary, as they will consume some stuff on warmer winter days.

      Hope this helps?

      Mark

  91. Hi Mark,
    Re the toilet paper answer and carnivorous animal faeces, there are several wormeries designed just for composting dog/cat waste. They use tiger worms like you mentioned somewhere. Very expensive, £50 to hundreds – but those are big ones for public areas. What they say is that they’re dedicated wormeries, pet waste only – no other scraps as the pathogens can multiply in that and worms may not be able to cope – and the composted material/liquid should only be used on ornamental plants, not any for human consumption (so not in beds growing both either). Apparently worms are bred using manure. http://www.dogpoodisposal.org.uk/dog-waste-decomposer.html (charming little logo! hmmm); http://www.earth-essentials.co.uk/products.htm; http://www.wormery.co.uk/dog-poo-wormery.htm.
    So, make your own like Mark’s above, or instructables.com for different designs such as multilayer or built-in liquid collection!

    1. Great question. Honest answer? I’m not sure.. But my guess is that they’ll be fine and could add valuable trace elements. I’d add in small quantities at first and observe what happens to them – do the worms eat them? If you wanted to add in larger quantities (eg if you’re working in a sea food restaurant) I’d recommend contacting a professional worm farmer to get a more authoritative answer in the first instance.

      1. I have always put shrimp, prawn, broken crab shell and crab waste, and fish heads, fish bones and guts in my 300 ltr. compost bins ( I have two on a concrete base, with a gulley down the middle that carries liquor from the compost into a central heating expansion tank sunk in the ground and it provides me with lovely liquid manure the colour of strong tea) The fish waste is broken down and completely disappears within 6 months, and the worms, in their thousands, migrate naturally from one box to the other.

    1. card toilet rolls are fine, used paper (which I guess you’re referring, too?) I’m not sure about. The general rule is that faeces from vegetarian animals (eg rabbits, hamsters) are OK in small quantities but faeces from carnivorous animals (cats, dogs) are not. To be on the safe side, I’d avoid using it until you can find a reliable source to tell you if its OK or not.

      1. Madeleine Holmes

        On a similar vein, I’m a science teacher and have giant African land-snails at school. Sadly I accidentally ‘killed’ all my snails recently and am sure it was through putting hand-towel on their peat, in order to try to dry it out; I then remembered reading that for hamster bedding you can use kitchen towel but NOT toilet paper or paper hankies as they contain bleach. So the poor snails were probably bleached to death. The same thing I am sure would happen to worms (they didn’t turn white; they were poisoned). On a different note I am a very keen gardener and use the liquid on my best plants – eg roses and clematis in spring, then any favourite plants through the summer. Half a litre of liquid to a 5 litre watering can of water. It is really good and the plants grow quickly and strongly. We use this more than the compost; it is like liquid gold.

  92. Hi Mark,
    Hello from sunny Sydney Australia. Just love your website and your videos. You are fantastic in the way that you help anyone grow vegies without a garden and your ideas are absolutely great. You mentioned that the compost worms from my worm farm can live in the soil in the pots my vegies are growing in. Is this correct?

    1. Hi Anney
      Nice to hear from you in Sydney!
      Yes, in my experience, worms seem to live quite happily in pots. The bigger the pot, the happier the worms will be – I wouldn’t put them in small pots (anything much less than 30cm diameter). Also make sure the compost is kept moist as the worms will die if it gets very dry. I’m not quite sure how long worms can live in a pot, but I know it is at least a year as I’ve found them quite happy in a pot after this length of time.
      Hope this helps.
      Mark

  93. Mikki Anderson

    Hi Mark, Any thoughts on keeping the wormery indoors? I live in America, Indiana. Our winters can be bitter cold but I have a huge basement. Thoughts?

  94. Maybe a silly question – how do you harvest the compost and separate the worms out? Just pick them out by hand?

    1. Hi Simon
      If you wait till the wormery is full and then take the compost from the bottom it will not have too many worms in. If you like you can remove these by putting the worm compost in a riddle – the worms will burrow down (this is a reaction to being stressed by the upheaval of being taken out of the wormery) and you can collect them in a bowl underneath. Or you can spread the compost out over a sheet and put a bit of card over the central part – over an hour or two, the worms will all seek the shade under the card (they don’t like light), where you can collect them.
      Alternatively you can leave the worms in the compost – they’ll live in your pots and benefit your plants – this is what I always do unless there seem to be hundreds of worms in the compost I’ve removed.
      Hope this helps.
      Mark

    1. Hi Yolanda
      if you see worms on the surface of the wormery when you lift up the card cover, this is usually a sign that they are searching for food – so would benefit from a feed. On the other hand, it the wormery smells bad, this is often a sign of over feeding. Little and often is usually the best strategy, particularly when you starting your wormery off. Once it’s fully established you can feed more.
      Yes, occasionally you may need to add water. the wormery should be damp – like a rung out flannel. If it’s drier than this, then sprinkle some water on.
      Mark

  95. My wormery in the Philippines is producing loads of compost. We also have a small bucket underneath to collect any liquid and use this for feeding plants in pots.

    1. Thanks for sharing that Yvonne – great to hear your wormery is successful, and the bucket underneath sounds a good way to collect the liquid.

  96. Thank you! I’m thinking of doing this with my son. I was wondering how many worms are added to be gin with? Are they OK during the winter (here in CA, it’s pretty warm year round) I love your accent!

    1. Hi Elka Worms double in number every 3 – 5 months and, eventually you want several thousand worms in a wormery operating at full power! So the more you start with the faster you will get there. I’d say 200 – 300 is the minimum really (unless you are very patient in which case you could start with less), and 500 – 1000 is even better. They are fine in winter in most climates – mine have lived fine through several cold winters in the UK. To be safe, you might want to insulate your wormery if you are going to have several days of freezing weather.

  97. Mark, this is great. Thank you for sharing. Fortunately, I work for a Council so have a few of these old recycling containers knocking about at home. I use them for picking up weeds, but they’re about to get a whole new life now!

    1. Great you’ve got some of those boxes to hand, Jono. They’re almost indestructible! When I lived in London I used to go down to the recycling centre where they’d often give me the old boxes. Apparently people used to bring them in and exchange them for the latest model!

  98. hi there, this piece is very timely -I’ve been thinking I’d like to make a wormery, so thanks. But how do you harvest the worm wee exactly?? cheers, jo

    1. Hi Jo, the simplest way would be to put a tray under the wormery to collect the liquid. If you have enough air running through the wormery, most of the liquid will evapourate to make a richer compost (that’s what I tend to do).

      1. There should be no liquid leaving the wormery. If there is, it is a clear sign the contents are too wet and need the addition of something to soak up the excess, like corrugated cardboard which worms like.
        Worm tea is a completely different thing to too much moisture leaching out of the system.

        1. Thanks for sharing your experience Carl. I don’t have experience with worm tea as I only really use the compost – and as you say, very little, if any liquid comes out if you get the mix right. For those who do want worm tea, how do you recommend it is best made?

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