Worm castings (also called vermicompost) are, in my opinion, the very best soil amendment that you can use in your garden. That’s why I wanted to find out how to make a wormery for garden compost.
I have bought worm casts for years and the results have always been impressive, especially for seed sowing. Worm castings can be incredibly expensive though.
But I have done some research, and you can make a worm bin very easily yourself. And it’s also very cheap!
So, in this article I will show you how to make a wormery for garden compost.
Some Facts About Wormeries
Before we begin, I want to quickly mention a few key points.
- Worm bins do not smell if done correctly. Many people keep a worm bin for their kitchen scraps under the kitchen sink (keeping outside, in a cool greenhouse or shed seems like a better idea to me, though).
- worm compost is a great soil conditioner and can provide potted plants with the nutrients they need.
- You also get ‘worm tea’, which you can dilute and use as liquid fertiliser.
- Worm bins do not take up a lot of space. They are much, much smaller than the average compost bin and can be harvested from more regularly.
- Worms can eat a huge amount of material, almost half their weight every day.
- You do not need to spend a lot of money to begin creating your own worm castings (expensive worm bins are NOT required).
Wormery Vs Compost Heap
In case you wonder what the difference is between a compost heap and a wormery, we are adding a section about this to our guide about how to make a wormery for garden compost.
Unlike a compost heap, a wormery doesn’t just rely on microorganisms such as bacteria to break down the food waste.
Instead, the worms eat the waste and produce worm compost. And they can eat almost half their bodyweight every day, so no wonder you can get great compost quickly.
Not only will the worms be quicker at producing compost, but you will also get the liquid from the vegetable peelings, which will turn into a liquid fertiliser. To use this liquid fertiliser, dilute it at a ratio of 10:1, with one part fertiliser and 10 parts water. Just water your plants from underneath with this mix.
As long as you keep your composting worms in good condition, they will reproduce and provide you with your own worm compost for years to come.
How To Make A Wormery For Garden Compost Yourself
Let’s get down to the main show of this article and talk about how to make a wormery for garden compost.
You can purchase a (quite expensive) wormery from a lot of different companies online. So we will make our own.
Making your own only requires a few tools and very little financial outlay.
If you want to know how to make a wormery for garden compost, you first need the right materials.
- 3 boxes, one with a lid
- plastic water tap
- drill and 8mm drill bits
- a couple of bricks
- some compost or coir fibre
First of all, you will need three plastic boxes. Ideally, you are looking for two boxes at least 30cm (1ft) wide and 15cm (1/2ft) deep. They must also have some sort of lid for one of the boxes. Worms require darkness, so the containers MUST NOT BE CLEAR. Cheap storage boxes from Amazon will do, such as this one.
- Opaque colour keeps contents private and protected from sunlight
- Complete with clip lock handles
- Stackable with the same Really Useful Box
Because the water from your kitchen scraps will collect in the bottom of the box, you need a plastic tap to drain into a bottle, as it is a liquid fertiliser. This one on Amazon will work fine.
- Pack of 1 x Water Butt Tap & Nut Black Plastic Snap-Fit
- Ideal For Use Where An Outdoor Water Supply Is Required
- Garden Fittings And Accessories
Making Your Wormery
Let’s move on to the first step in our guide about how to make a wormery for garden compost, preparing all the materials.
Using a 8mm drill bit to create holes in two of the boxes, drill 20 holes in the bottom and 10-15 on the top of the sides of the containers.
These holes are essential for both drainage and to provide essential air the worms need.
Then fit the tap on the third box, the one without any holes. Fix it as low as you can, so that all the liquid will drain off.
Now you are ready to assemble your homemade wormery.
Assembling Your Wormery
Start by putting your bricks down. This will raise your wormery, so that it becomes easier to drain the ‘worm tea’.
Then put the box with the plastic tap on to the bricks. Don’t put a lid on.
Next comes one of the other boxes. Stack it on top of the first box. Then add a layer of compost or coir fibre, about 8cm (3in). This is the bedding material for your worms.
Cover with the lid and your wormery is ready for the worms.
The third box, you only need once the second box is full, so just put it aside for the time being.
Congratulations, you now know how to make a wormery for garden compost!
Now that your wormery is ready, you need to get some worms.
If you want to know how to make a wormery for garden compost, you should know, that earthworms that you find in your garden won’t be suitable. They are great for aerating your soil, but won’t do very well in composting.
You will need to get composting worms, such as tiger worms.
It’s important that you buy the worms from a reputable supplier, such as Yorkshire Worms. The good news is, they sell on Amazon, so it is easy to get hold of them.
This starter kit will be ideal for your homemade wormery.
- The Tiger Worm is one of nature's compost creators and perfect for rapid processing of organic waste into Nutrient Rich Compost
- They are easy to care for and mix well with other species such as dendrobaena worms to make the ideal combination
- Tiger Worms are perfect to use for Wormery starter kits
If you have bigger boxes, you might want more worms. In this case, this pack of mixed composting worms will work well.
- The Dendrobaena is one of nature's compost creators and perfect for rapid processing of organic waste into Nutrient Rich Compost
- They are easy to care for and mix well with other species such as Tiger worms to make the ideal combination
- Dendrobaenas are perfect to use for Wormery starter kits
Once you haver received your worms, put them on top of the bedding and cover them with a thin layer, about 5cm (2in) of organic waste, such as food scraps.
Cover with the lid and place the wormery in a sheltered and shady location. A shed would be ideal.
They need to be warm and kept at a constant temperature, room temperature is best. So a utility room will work well too.
Leave them for a week to settle in, then you can start to feed them regularly.
Just add a small amount of organic matter, ideally a mix of green material, such as kitchen waste, and brown materials, such as cardboard or brown leaves.
Make sure you chop your kitchen waste into small pieces and tear any cardboard or pater into pieces too. This will make it easier for the worms to eat the material.
Once the tray is full, put the second one on top and start adding your organic material to this one instead.
The worms will slowly start to move up to the next tray. After a week or so, check the bottom tray to see if the worms have moved up.
If they have all gone up, you can use the worm compost in your garden.
What Not To Add To Your Wormery
No guide about how to make a wormery for garden compost would be complete, without a section about what not to add.
While the worms are pretty easy to please, there are some things you should not put in, such as:
- animal products, such as meat and dairy products
- cooked food
- citrus peel, as it will make the wormery too acidic for the worms
- onion, garlic and other vegetables from the allium family
- glossy paper, such as magazines
- tea bags, as most of them are made of plastic (the tea itself is fine though)
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have not found what you were looking for in our guide about how to make a wormery for garden compost, check out our FAQ section.
Where Is The Best Place For A Wormery?
If you want to know how to make a wormery for garden compost, this is a very good question.
The worms will need a constant temperature, ideally room temperature.
So if you want to put your wormery outside, make sure it’s not in direct sunlight, as it could get too hot in summer.
A sheltered position, where it will be protected from the elements, is best.
In winter, you have to make sure that the wormery stays above 10°C, because if it gets colder than that, the worms will stop eating.
If it gets really cold in your region, then there is a risk that the worms will freeze. To prevent this from happening, wrap the wormery with fleece or a piece of carpet to keep it warm.
If you can, keep your wormery indoors. A shed, garage or even in the kitchen or a utility room will work.
A well maintained wormery does not smell, so there is no reason why not to keep it in the house.
How Often Do I have To Feed The Worms?
Ideally, you should add food to the wormery regularly, but not too much, little, but often seems to work best.
I tend to add a small amount every couple of days.
And don’t worry about going on holiday, the worms will be ok if you don’t feed them for two weeks. Just add a good layer of kitchen waste before you are off, and they will be fine.
Is It Better To Have A Wormery Or A Compost Heap?
Have both! It’s not a question of one or the other. We have a compost heap and wormery.
While they both fulfil the same purpose, turning waste into nutrients, they work in different ways. As already mentioned above, a compost heap relies on bacteria and fungi to break down your kitchen and garden waste.
In contrast, in the wormery the compost worms eat the material and turn it into compost that way.
Both methods have their merits and don’t have to exclude each other. A wormery tends to produce usable compost quicker.
However, if you do it the right way, a compost heap can produce finished compost in one month. Read our article about how to make compost at home fast.
One benefit of the wormery is that you also get a liquid fertiliser, which you can use to feed your plants.
Now that you know how to make a wormery for garden compost, you will soon have lovely homemade worm compost and ‘worm tea’ to boost the growth of your vegetables. Happy Growing!