What is a Wormery?

D. Rambo

A wormery is an enclosed area that utilizes live worms to break down organic waste and kitchen scraps. The worms ingest and decompose the materials into fertile and nutrient-filled compost. Setting up a worm farm is an excellent way to reduce one's carbon footprint and to add some extra fertility to a garden.

Red wiggler worms can be kept in a wormery for vermicomposting.
Red wiggler worms can be kept in a wormery for vermicomposting.

Worm composting, also known as vermicomposting, does not require a significant amount of work. By filling a small contained area, such as an aquarium, with wet newspaper, moss, sawdust or a similar material, a suitable habitat will be formed for the worms. If the wormery is not naturally ventilated, then it should be ventilated by drilling small holes on the sides and bottom. The container should not be any taller than 2 feet (61 cm), because the worms will not want to go below that depth.

Egg shells are good candidates for a wormery.
Egg shells are good candidates for a wormery.

When creating a sustainable wormery, digging up worms from one's backyard is not advised. Local gardening clubs and websites dedicated to vermiculture are two of the best ways to order the worms in bulk. Red wigglers are the most commonly used worms for composting, and European night crawlers also are a popular choice. Each composting space can contain roughly 1,200 worms per square foot (929 square cm) of surface area.

After the wormery is fully prepared, vegetable scraps, crushed egg shells, fruit scraps or similar items should be added on a weekly basis. Fibrous materials such as newspaper, hay or cardboard that has not been chemically treated also should be added on a monthly basis. In time, the compost will be ready to be removed from the bin. The worms and compost are moved over to one side of the container, fresh food is added to the other side, and the worms will migrate over to the fresh food. This allows the finished compost to be removed.

A wormery can be either vertical or horizontal, but vertical is the most common of the two. Stacked tires, old aquariums and wooden boxes with tops all have the potential to become wormeries. It ultimately depends on the preference of the person creating the wormery.

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