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How to set up a worm bin

Overview

One of the most efficient ways of recycling kitchen waste is to use a worm bin. These purpose-built containers house a colony of brandling worms, which consume fruit and vegetable waste, producing a nutritious worm compost.

As well as producing a rich compost, worm bins also generate a nutritious liquid fertiliser. Vegetable waste is largely made up of water, and this will drain down through the bin to collect in the bottom. The resulting liquid can be retrieved through a tap in the base of the bin. It's a good idea to keep the tap permanently open and collect drips in a bottle or bucket below.

A wide variety of worm bin kits is available to buy. Most of them consist of three or four modular trays placed on top of each other. As the worms consume the waste in the bottom tray, they move up to the next one. Simply remove the bottom tray to access the worm compost, rinse it and place it on the top, and continue to add fresh veg peelings.

Worm bins are easy to set up, but if yours is delivered by post, make sure you set up the bin within two days, as the worms may not survive if they are not quickly transferred into their bedding.


How to do it

Laying a sheet of paper in the tray

1

Attach the legs and tap, add a single tray to the base unit, then lay a sheet of paper in the tray.


Breaking up the coir bedding

2

Soak the worm bedding block (made of coir compost) in warm water, before breaking it up into a friable mass.


Spreading the bedding material over the paper

3

Cover the paper with the compost bedding mixture, spreading it out in an even layer.


Spreading worms evenly over the bedding

4

Spread the worms out over the bedding and they'll quickly start burrowing down into the material.


Adding a thin layer of vegetable peelings

5

Cover the worms and bedding material with a thin layer of well-chopped vegetable peelings. As these begin to rot, the worms will be able to start feeding on them. Most kits also come with a mat that should be used to cover the material to maintain moisture in the bin.


Covering the bin with the lid

6

Finish by putting the lid on the bin, then move it to a warm and sheltered spot, out of direct sunshine. Regularly drain liquid from the bin, and dilute it with 10 parts water, to use as a fertiliser.


Adam's tip

Add fruit and vegetable peelings, cooked veg (except potatoes), shredded paper, cardboard and newspaper, crushed egg shells, tea leaves and coffee, but avoid meat and dairy products, lawn clippings, citrus peel and glossy paper or card.

Only add small quantities of waste at a time. Worms dislike acidic conditions, so avoid adding citrus peel and add plenty of cardboard pieces and crushed egg shells to the mix. Water sparingly if the worm bin looks dry.

Move the worm bin to a frost-free place during winter, as worms may die if left outside.




Discuss this project

Talkback: How to set up a worm bin
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batanna 21/01/2014 at 11:31

When the compost is ready how do you remove it without taking all the worms along also?

Simjo 21/01/2014 at 12:36

Hi Batana,

Without knowing your set up exactly it's hard to generalise but with mine, I only take about 2/3rds of the compost out at a time.  The 1/3rd compost that remains will contain plenty of worms and these should quickly multiply as soon as you load up the wormery with more vegetation again. 

Even better, the worms in the 2/3rds compost that you do remove and presumably spread around your garden, will do untold good.  Depending on the type of worms in the wormery they may not survive 'in the wild' but will do plenty of good whilst they are around...... and will probably feed a few birds at the same time!