DIY Wormery for the Garden, Patio & Balcony

Susan Wakeman - Jardins Educatifs de la Cote
Wednesday, 15th April 2015

How to create a range of vermicomposting systems for the garden, patio and balcony.

Using your kitchen green wastes as a resource is obvious for any ecologically-minded gardener. What to do though if you don't have space for a compost bin/pile? I have tried out several solutions for homemade vermicompost.

This "cold" method of composting is perfect for the average household kitchen, as the worms will process not only the peelings etc. from your kitchen, but also much of your non-glossy paper.

In fact, wrapping your wastes in newspaper will keep fruit flies at bay. I often peel directly onto a big sheet of newspaper, then toss the neat parcel in my nearest worm bin. There are vermicomosting units commercially available and many plans online - here I'd like to share some very simple units I have trialled over the years.

For the garden

For those who have a garden, the simplest method by far is to place bottomless plant pots slightly submerged in borders or vegetable beds. Dot a few of these amongst your plants, fill with your scraps and cover with a plate or the pot saucer. The worms will move into the pots and start multiplying, and as the scraps get eaten, there is space for more!

As the worms travel in and out of the pot, they will fertilise the bed around it. Some people recommend drilling holes around the sides, but I have found this is not necessary. I have used this method also for "jump-starting" worm boxes. It is also a convenient way of fertilizing big planters like the Wicking Raised Bed PM82.

For a friend who has a small garden, but no space for a compost pile, I built very simple worm crates from repurposed wine boxes. Simply remove the bottom of the crate and use as a lid. They discreetly hide amonst her shrubs and as one fills up, she moves on to the next one: she has one standard crate per person in her family. The larger surface area increases efficiency and the lid stops birds from making a big mess! As the worms do their work, all she needs to do is to slightly lift up the crates and scatter the compost around.

Winecratewormery.jpg

For the balcony or patio

What about those who need to do their gardening on a balcony or patio? Combine a tower planter with a worm composting unit for very little cost. You need a large pot or barrel (mine is 50cm in diameter), a sturdy bin bag, chicken wire or plant trellis, a bottomless pot or tube some 30cm less in diameter than your big pot, a lid to cover this pot, some potting soil or compost, lots of kitchen scraps wrapped in newspaper (worm food), and some worms.

Wormerycomposter.

Fill the pot with damp ripped paper and kitchen scraps and your worms, or simply half-digested compost from a friend with lots of worms in it. Cut the bottom off the bin bag. Shape the chicken wire in a cylinder just inside the upper rim of the pot. Line with the bin bag, fixing it over the rim of the chicken wire tube. Then fill by placing the bottomless pot in the middle, filled with worm food. Fill the space between the pot and the bin bag with compost or potting soil. You can plant into the soil as you go along, through slits you make in the bin bag. Water, pull out the pot and repeat. You will want to leave the pot in the last layer for adding more worm food later.

Voilà, you have a tower planter for your flowers, salads or herbs as well as a composting unit! I estimate that one planter will easily process the peelings of one person.

To read in French, visit https://jardinseducatifs.wordpress.com/2014/04/12/compostage-discret/

Further resources

Make a DIY wormery for under £15

How to make an inexpnsive DIY wormery

How to Make Compost

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