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Best wormeries - BBC Gardeners' World Magazine

9 of the best wormeries on test

Our experts have tried and tested a range of wormeries to bring you a guide to the best available. 

Our gardening experts have tried and tested a huge range of essential garden tools and equipment in order to bring you detailed, balanced and practical guides to the best products for the job.

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In this guide, we explain how a wormery works, what to look for when choosing your own and review nine models in detail to help you choose the best wormery for you.

If you’re interested in other types of garden waste disposal, you can see our round up of some of the best garden compost bins. You may be planning to keep your wormery covered or somewhere enclosed, in which case you may find our list of garden storage ideas helpful as well as our guide to the best garden sheds.

There are different sizes as well as types of wormeries, including single-chamber and stacking wormeries, which we explain below. Each model may have different features or extras included. For instance, some may come with a starter kit including items such as bedding and even a book on worm composting.

The materials each wormery is made from will also vary, with plastic and recycled options available. All of these factors will influence the price of the model. In our On Test round up we’ve included a range of options, which you can see in detail below.

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How does a wormery work?

A wormery is a great way of composting kitchen and small amounts of garden waste and paper and cardboard.
Wormery composting worms are different species to the earthworms you see in your garden, which are not suitable, and are known as brandlings, red, manure or tiger worms.

They live inside the waste in the wormery container and thanks to big appetites and a fast metabolism, break down food waste like egg shells, vegetable peelings and tea bags and turn them into compost for your garden.

A sump within the wormery holds excess liquid which is produced during this process. You will need to drain your wormery using an included tap or outlet every few days and the liquid can be diluted to a 1:10 ratio of water and used to feed your plants. Some models may simply have a drain tray instead of a sump for the same function.

How to choose a wormery

When you are choosing a wormery, there are a few details to consider. Below, we take you through some of the key considerations to make before buying.

What types of wormeries are there?

Stacking wormery: these models consist of multiple trays with mesh bases stacked on top of each other, with up to three or four layers in total. Waste and worms are added to the first tray until it’s full and then the second tray is added on top. The worms work their way up through the mesh base of each layer as they fill up and another tray is added. Finished compost is removed from the bottom tray and once emptied this is placed back on top of the other trays to repeat the process. Trays range in capacity from between 12 and 25 litres.

Single-chamber wormeries: this style consists of one large, single chamber where the waste is processed all together. Deposit matter onto the top and harvest from below or empty it all to access the finished compost.

Which design wormery is best?

The type of wormery you need will depend on your own needs and preferences. Bigger households will need a larger wormery although the size will also depend on the space you have available.

Black is the best colour for absorbing heat, but avoid this if you don’t have a shaded spot to keep it in. A square based wormery should also generally be the most stable option.

Where should I place my wormery?

The optimum temperature for a wormery is between 15 and 25 degrees celsius. Anything above 35 degrees celsius and your worms won’t be able to survive. Ideally, you should place your wormery in a sheltered, shaded spot, somewhere you can access it easily to fill it up and drain the liquid a couple of times a week. An outbuilding or porch is a good place, some models can even be kept in the kitchen, but be aware they can start to smell if left.

What should I put in my wormery?

Kitchen waste is best for a wormery, although small amounts of garden waste can also be added. Raw or cooked vegetables, fruit, coffee grounds, teabags and eggshells are all ideal food for worms. Avoid meat and fish, dairy products and tough woodier plant material.


9 of the best wormeries on test

Our gardening experts have put the following models through their paces to bring you detailed information on their performance, including a clear rating out of 5.

Best stacking wormeries

We have included reviews of seven stacking wormeries of various styles and sizes. Read our findings below.

1

WormCity

Our rating: 4.8 out of 5

RRP: £78.00

WormCity - BBC Gardeners' World Magazine
WormCity

Pros:

  • Largest capacity and well designed
  • Easy and efficient to use
  • Stable square base
  • 100 per cent recycled, good warranty
  • Well priced for size

Cons:

  • More accessible to slugs than most

This womery by WormCity has a large tray capacity of 25 litres, which is impressive considering its size on the ground (75cm x 43cm x 43cm). Our testers found that the deep trays produced a high amount of good-quality compost. We were also impressed by the well-planned design which features a V-shaped sump and stepped interior. It’s made in the UK from 100 per cent recycled materials and 500g of worms are included along with food and bedding. We judged this a Best Buy as the best stacking wormery.


2

WormBox

Our rating: 4.8 out of 5

RRP: £96.65

WormBox - BBC Gardeners' World Magazine
WormBox

Pros:

  • Smart, versatile design in many colours
  • Suits indoors or outside – fully rainproof
  • Mostly recycled plastic
  • Longest warranty

Cons:

  • Tap close to ground, not easy to drain

Unlike most stacking wormeries the WormBox model (38cm x 50cm x 50cm) is rainproof. We found it to be sturdy and were impressed with the versatile design, which includes castors for easy moving. Each tray has a capacity of 16 litres, which produced a moderate amount of compost and the sump works well. Worms and a coir mat are included with the starter model and there is the option to add a planting tray to the top or use it as a seat, with a load of up to 100kg. A generous 15 year warranty is included and we judged this a Best Buy as the best versatile design.


3

Tiger Wormery

Our rating: 4.3 out of 5

RRP: £73.99

Tiger Wormery - BBC Gardeners' World Magazine
Tiger Wormery

Pros:

  • Range of colours and size options
  • Produced good compost in moderate quantities
  • Good starter package, mostly recycled

Cons:

  • The small sump needed frequent
  • draining
  • More accessible to slugs than most
  • Flimsy tap handle

This medium-sized stacking wormery (53cm x 42cm x 42cm) has a minimum of three 15.5 litre trays and comes with a five year warranty. We found it produced good compost but is prone to waterlogging because of a small sump. The wormery comes with a starter pack, which includes 100 worms, bedding, a coir mat, worm food and the book Composting with Worms by George Pilkington. We judged this a Best Buy as the best all round package.


4

Tumbleweed Worm Café

Our rating: 4 out of 5

RRP: £117.98

Tumbleweed Worm Café - BBC Gardeners' World Magazine
Tumbleweed Worm Café

Pros:

  • Large capacity
  • Produced plenty of good-quality compost
  • 100 per cent recycled plastic

Cons:

  • Trays very heavy to handle when full
  • Compost needed mounding so worms could move

This large capacity wormery (75cm x 57cm x 39cm) includes 18 litre trays which we found produced good quality compost. The trays feature “stops” to improve air circulation, but we found the gaps meant the worms could not move upwards as well. It’s made from 100 per cent recycled plastic, making it a more environmentally friendly choice although we found that the thin hand grips made trays tricky to hold when full.


5

Maze Worm Farm

Our rating: 4 out of 5

RRP: £102.89

Maze Worm Farm - BBC Gardeners' World Magazine
Maze Worm Farm

Pros:

  • Lightweight, compact and portable
  • Can be customised to suit site
  • Pull-out tray and hook for hanging lid
  • Mostly recycled plastic

Cons:

  • Lowest capacity per tray
  • Slowest to process waste

This compact wormery (28cm x 38cm x 38cm) features 12 litre trays and a central drain. This model had the smallest capacity of those we tested and took the longest to compost overall, although we found the quality of what was produced to be good. A pull-out central tray harvests small amounts of castings and it can be customised with a range of accessories. It’s guaranteed for one year.


6

Can-O-Worms

Our rating: 3.8 out of 5

RRP: £119.50

Can-O-Worms - BBC Gardeners' World Magazine
Can-O-Worms

Pros:

  • Easy-to-handle trays
  • Produced good quantities of compost
  • 100% recycled plastic
  • Sump provided worm refuge

Cons:

  • Compost needed mounding so worms could move
  • Legs not very sturdy

This circular wormery (65cm x 51cm x 51cm) sits on legs and features stacked trays each with a 22.5 litre capacity. Our testers found the trays easy to handle but that the “stop” between them prevented worms from working upwards, even though aeration was improved. We also noticed that the legs could begin to bend under weight when the wormery was full. It’s guaranteed for one year.


7

Urbalive Worm Farm

Our rating: 3.5 out of 5

RRP: £161.95

Urbalive Worm Farm - BBC Gardeners' World Magazine
Urbalive Worm Farm

Pros:

  • Attractive design
  • Available in four colours
  • Produced good quality/quantity of compost

Cons:

  • Worms drowned in sump
  • Needs a sheltered site
  • Made from new plastic

The Urbalive Worm Farm (60.5cm x 50.5cm x 38cm) has a large capacity of 21.7 litres per tray. Our testers liked the contemporary design and larger capacity and found it composted well. The wooden legs were tricky to fit though and needed a screwdriver, which is not supplied. We found the mesh “worm catcher”  did not work and if used outdoors it must be under cover. A two year warranty is included.


Best single-chamber wormeries

Two of the wormeries we tested were single-chamber designs. See what we made of them during our testing process below.

8

Hungry Bin Worm Composter

Our rating: 4.3 out of 5

RRP: £294.95

Hungry Bin Worm Composter - BBC Gardeners' World Magazine
Hungry Bin Worm Composter

Pros:

  • Substantial capacity to process waste
  • Drains itself
  • Easy to harvest finished compost
  • Rainproof with hinged lid

Cons:

  • Open drain tray attracts flies
  • Largest footprint
  • Expensive

This conical shaped wormery (60cm x 65cm x 95cm) sits on a metal frame which is on wheels to make it easier to manoeuvre. It has a total capacity of 80 litres but the large surface area means worms can process up to 2kg of waste per day. You can access finished compost by unclipping the base, which our testers found to be a simple process. It’s guaranteed for 2 years and is made from between 15 and 20% recycled plastic. We judged this a Best Buy as the best low maintenance choice.


9

Original Wormery

Our rating: 4 out of 5

RRP: £64.99

Original Wormery - BBC Gardeners' World Magazine
Original Wormery

Pros:

  • Large capacity for small footprint
  • Well priced for its size
  • Rainproof with hinged lid
  • Hard to harvest compost

Cons:

  • Drain tap close to ground
  • Made from new plastic

This single-chamber wormery (73cm x 53cm x 43cm) has an overall capacity of 100 litres. It’s styled in a wheelie bin design including a hinged lid and is rainproof. The compost is harvested by emptying the bin completely, which means separating it from the worms and unprocessed waste. It’s guaranteed for one year.


How we tested the wormeries

We set up the wormeries last summer and added a regular mix of cooked and raw kitchen waste with paper and brown cardboard. We then assessed their performance throughout the year.

There were four marking criteria considered, each with equal weighting, which were used to deduce a final overall score. The criteria were:

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  • Design and setup: how clear and easy are the instructions to follow, what are the the siting conditions and extra features.
  • Ease of use: how straightforward is it to add waste and harvest liquid, any design flaws and features or accessories which affected use.
  • Compost quality and harvesting: the quantity and quality of the compost and liquid produced and whether the worms were thriving.
  • Value for money: the quality and durability of the model as well as the RRP, warranty and eco-credentials.