Wormery woes

I got a wormery just after we moved into our flat, and have been happily feeding it most of the contents of our kitchen ever since. It has greatly reduced the amount of waste we shove into bin liners every week, and I like the idea that we will get some compost out of it eventually for the garden. The only problem is that it appears to be full. A few weeks ago I attempted to remove the top layers of potato peelings and other matter, to investigate the compost situation. The whole thing was brimming with liquid, so my quest for compost was sadly thwarted.

The main product of the wormery is worm juice. I was reliably informed that it would be available about 8 weeks after starting the wormery off, but was disappointed when none was forthcoming. Then about 2 months later, we got some! If you have been reading this blog for a while you will not be surprised to learn that this was a very exciting day. But I was worried that the worms were now drowning.

This morning, I ventured down to the garden with an empty lemonade bottle, to attempt to drain it slightly. What a haul!

Fig 1: Worm juice, with Wilb in the background.

I had to water the garden with the rest of the liquid, there was too much for a 1 litre bottle. I’m hoping that the worms haven’t all drowned, and now they’ve got a little more ‘wriggle room’, to coin a phrase, hopefully they’ll start working through the rest of the heap, and then it’s compost time!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I am so cool.

Author: Rachel Wheeley

Comedian, podcaster, full time Mum, based in London, UK

15 thoughts on “Wormery woes”

  1. The exact same thing happened with my wormery.. I have the same make and model as you.. except

    When I turned the tap to drain some worm juice.. all the dead worms came out in the juice… bleuch the smell was horrendous.

    All my worms drowned and died and ive been left with a stinking bucket of household waste.. its down at the bottom of the garden now… kinda hoping my other half will clean it out for me :o)

    Glad yours worked out ok tho… hopefully i’ll have better luck on my next attempt!

  2. I have no wormery, so cannot comment. Sounds good though – next time, bring me down a bottle or 3?

    Have you begun to plan your 2008 seed sowing? We have – Ema is on the case and will shortly be ordering our seed potatoes to chit (apparently). I am still digging in sh*t.

    Not sure how much scope you have for planting new stuff though? maybe you should have a corner of mine that you come an play around with and me maintain? Then you could see it growing on my blog!

  3. townie: It’s inevitable that one or two worms will drown in the liquid. Post a request for wormery worms on your local Freecycle group – hopefully some local wormery manager with a thriving community will be able to offer you some of their employees.

    Rach: Now that the worm juice has started coming, drain it regularly. You should definitely try to keep the level of liquid below the level of the plastic tray inside the bin. I always tip my wormery forwards to make sure that I get as much out as possible.

  4. Thanks for the comments everyone. I am doing my best to keep the wormery drained! I think I’m going to see how it is in a few months time, and if there’s no great progress, I might get a ‘Can O Worms’ design instead. It seems to be a better system, with tiers so you can easily access the composted compost. The wormery I’ve got at the moment is just a big plastic bucket – no wonder the worms are drowning! I’ll keep you posted anyway.

  5. I have a Can-o-Worms at home and they are much easier to use than the wheelie bin type. Have you got plenty of drainage chips in the bottom of your wormery?

  6. I don’t think I do have drainage chips… and there’s no way of getting them in there now! Thanks for the tip about the Worm Factory kit though, that looks great. What are drainage chips exactly? I’ll make sure I get some for the next attempt!

  7. I have a wormcity wormery, and its far easier to use than the original organics one.

    I to ended up with a bin full of stinking rotton food, that was impossible to empty, nearly put me off worm composting for life – Im glad i persevered though.

    If you get the correct system it is a really brilliant way of composting

  8. Hi Rach,

    You can use the chips at the bottom of the bin underneath the woven liner. It just helps to lift the woven liner up from the bottom of the bin and stops any collecting water soaking into the liner. You could use gravel or small pebbles as your drainage chips.

    Pete is correct in saying that it is best to drain the wormery regularly – if needs be you can leave the tap open with a collecting pan underneath so as not to waste the liquid.

    To keep moisture levels down add plenty of paper and cardboard – 25-30% of what you add should be dry material. In addition to paper and cardboard, you can add vacuum cleaner dust, hair, wool and cotton. This all helps with moisture levels and provides fibre for the worms, which they need for good digestion.

  9. The plan/solution I have uses 2 plastic containers, one for the worms and one for the liquid.
    The upper has holes drilles both for ventilation and drainage, there is some heavy duty shade cloth put on the bottom of this container so the worms cannot escape through these holes.
    This is then places in the second container (put the top one with holes in the second one), you can use bricks or whatever to ensure that the container with the holes is lifted up.
    I then got a spigot and drilled one hole in the bottom side of the second container that will hold the liquid, a tight fitting hole with some silicon sealer makes it water tight.
    Now your worms are seperated from the liquid which can easily be drained off with the spigot you attached.

    so pretty basic, like so:

    AB BA

    So the block represented with the B’s is the container with holes drilled in it that contains the worms+food (shade cloth at bottome to ensure worms dont fall through into container B which collects the liquid)
    The container represented with the A’s is the container that B is sat into with bricks or something to raise container A up so it does not sit in liquid, container A also has a spigot attached to the bottom so that the liquid is easy to siphon off.

    Hope that helps someone


  10. arg top “diagram” messed up

    AB……..BA<——-worms+food in B container
    AH……..HAS<——–Liquid drains into container A, the “H”
    AAAAAAAA represents bricks or something to raise container B that fits into A, A has a Spigot represented by the “S” on the diagram.

    Thanks hope this one looks better n is easy to understand

  11. I have a can-o-worms wormery. Yesterday I went to get some ‘worm juice’ to feed my plant, and it chucked a load of pale, dead worms at me and it reeked to high heaven of death.

    I can’t imagine why so many have drowned (are they depressed?) but it seems that it is a common wormery problem.

    Perhaps I might just leave the tap open to ensure the juice doesn’t become a worm hazard.

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