The planet is our home; we need to be more responsible. Here's what I do.
So I’ve already written about my hens, my bees and my quail but the first creatures we worked with haven’t had a mention yet.
The back yard at the house is about five metres by six or something. Really small. It’s walled and paved, hemmed in by a garage and a brick built shed.
It was greenless!
Ironically when we moved here we thought Great! Low Maintenance.
There was a creeper on the back wall that had fallen down and was heading toward the house.
So since then, we wanted to try and create compost from our kitchen waste. Although the system here for household waste is great and it’s all separated it’s a shame to waste all that green nutrition.
We didn’t think a compost would work for us (though that may change) so we decided on a project.
What’s the difference between a wormery and a compost?
A wormery is not open to the ground. It’s self contained and should therefore be moveable and not rely on earth bound creatures coming in to do the processing but rather on your own worms.
A compost heap/bin has no base. The creatures of the ground can access the organic material from below. They do a similar job to the worms but nutrition also returns to the ground. The site of a compost heap can be a great place to grow hungry plants like courgettes if you move the compost.
First I looked for a wormery online. There wasn’t a Dutch supplier at that time. Though there is now. Which is a great sign.
There’s more information about vermiculture here.
We had to decide to make our own. Turns out this is simple!
The benefits were:
Suitability. We could make one the size and shape we wanted to fit well in our space.
Cost. It’s easy to make a wormery to your budget.
Learning. I always like a project where you do something you haven’t done before.
Improvisation. We might be able to use stuff we already had.
Wormery benefits are simple:
Recycling Using waste materials.
Reduce Not as much stuff going in the bin.
Compost Nutritious medium for growing plants.
Worm juice Magical liquid fertiliser for plants, for free.
Liberation The worms don’t end up on a hook!
So how do you make one then?
Three stacking boxes that fit really well together.
A lid or something that can act as a lid.
Material to line one box that will save the worms from drowning. E.g. Mesh, or loose weave fabric.
Something to make holes. Drill, sharp metal object etc.
Worms. More about this later.
That’s the basic requirement. We also build a cupboard around it and put it on a wheeled base so we could move it around the garden but those are extras.
How it works
Each box has a slightly different role.
Box 1 The top box
This is a box you can add kitchen waste to. The worms need to have a starting home of some soil and sand. They also need access to box two through holes in box one. They need a good lid or cover to stop them escaping.
Box 2 The middle box
There could be several middle boxes if you have space and lots of waste.
This box will be similar to box 1 with some earth and sand. After a while box 1 will be full and then the worms will move into box 2. Kitchen waste can be added to box 2 instead.
The worms need to go up into box 1 and there need to be holes for liquid to drop into the box below but it must have covered holes to stop worms from dropping and drowning in box 3.
Box 3 The bottom box
This box needs to hold liquid so no holes and no alterations. And nothing in it. Just a box.
What to do
Be clear which is the bottom box.
Make some holes in the bottom of the other two boxes.
Place the barrier material that the liquid will pass through in box 2.
Add a layer of soil and sand to box 1 and box 2. Add the worms to box 1
Stack the boxes and ensure the lid is in place. You may want to place a heavy object on top.
Worms escape! If the lid isn’t secure add a thick layer of newspapers.
Where to get worms.
We got ours from a fishing tackle shop. They keep them in the fridge in containers for bait. We had a couple of large boxes. We had around 300g. They will lay eggs and reproduce. But if you want a more active wormery they you can always get more!
The worm juice fertiliser is very rich in nutrients. We dilute it with water 1:10 and use it to water the allotment plants.
What can you put in it?
Vegetable and fruit waste from the kitchen. Peelings, scraps from potatoes etc.
Tea bags (open ’em up for a faster result. Loose tea is a better option. )
Chicken waste. Other pet poo probably too.
Egg shells. Squash ’em
They don’t seem to like onion skins and citrus peel much.
You’ll start to see how much they can process and what works well over time.
They deal with less quantity in winter. Make sure it doesn’t get too dry.
For more info click here
a blog by a multilingual expat-since-birth, linguist, researcher, mum of three, living in the Netherlands and writing about bilingualism, multiculturalism, parenting abroad, international life...