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Composting with a Wormery - Frankton's

Composting with a Wormery

No matter your age, there is something special about looking after a Wormery.

Understanding how worms compost your kitchen waste helps you to learn more about the soil itself - perhaps the most important commodity to the gardener. They are a wonderful way to turn your kitchen food waste in to a rich, organic matter and produce a natural liquid fertiliser, both ideal for your garden and indoor plants.

Worms love to digest both cooked and uncooked food waste, as well as newspaper, shredded cardboard and egg boxes. It's a great way of reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill and to reduce your own reliance on bought-in compost.

Most gardeners are familiar with the process of composting in the garden. Food waste is often excluded from the traditional compost bin because it tends to be much wetter than garden waste and can sometimes attract vermin, particularly when containing meat. Wormeries offer an alternative to dealing with this type of waste, by addressing those concerns with some unique design features.

Wormeries are designed as trays that stack one above the other, resembling a bee-hive. This is because worms move upwards as they consume material. Each time the tray becomes full, the next tray is stacked on top and the process is repeated. Because food waste is three-quarters water, the Wormery can create a natural liquid fertiliser, which can be drained off from a tap at the base. This is available just a few weeks after you start your Wormery, and every week thereafter. By diluting 10 parts water to 1 part liquid fertiliser, you now have a good quantity of nutritious plant food, high in potassium and phosphorus, that can be of great benefit to your garden and house plants.

Turning kitchen waste into rich, nutritious compost can be done more quickly in a Wormery than traditional composting methods; each tray doing so in 6-8 weeks. Because compost will hold its nutrient content without leaching away, it's also practical to leave it until all of the trays have finished. This produces a full unit of compost in 6-12 months depending on temperature. Worms work throughout the year, but like humans have a comfort range where they work best. The ideal temperature range is 18-25°C, but some worms, such as Tiger worms will tolerate lower temperatures. It's particularly important that ideal temperatures are maintained during the first weeks of your Wormery, as the worms wake up and become established.

A full 4-tray Wormery will produce around 62 litres of compost and many litres of liquid fertiliser. There is no need to worry about odours, this is because they are caused by natural decomposition, whereas in a Wormery, the worms consume the material, limiting odour to a sweet compost/earthy smell. Flies and vermin are kept out of the unit by design. Flies may occur if their eggs are in the material you compost, but an organic spray can be used to eliminate them.

Getting Started.

Your Frankton's Wormery will come with full assembly and care instructions provided. Once assembled, you're ready to begin composting immediately.

Leave your kitchen waste outside in a caddy to rot for a couple of weeks until it's mouldy, this is the perfect feed for the worms. Add two large handfuls of this waste to the corner of the first tray with the worms and leave it for a week for the worms to settle in, breed and mature. After this initial period, begin to add a further couple of handfuls each few days, steadily increasing this amount until, after a short time, the Wormery will happily take all of the waste produced by a 4-person family.

Keep draining off the liquid fertiliser. This helps keep the moisture content down in the compost, which would otherwise exclude air, which the worms need to breathe. To help this process, you can add absorbent material such as shredded paper, cardboard and egg boxes. Worms love to eat this material as well, but avoid very woody material as they cannot digest it as well as grass clippings, which become hot as they decompose, which disrupts the worm ecosystem. A lime-mix is provided with the Wormery and can be used to help keep the mixture less acidic, important if you add acidic material such as citrus, onions or leeks.

Maintaining an ideal living environment in the Wormery is easy. Worms breed quickly meaning you needn't reintroduce new worms. From time to time worms don't thrive, but if that happens, Frankton's can help you with replacement clew (collective noun for worms).

A well-established Wormery can be left alone for up to a month. Their low maintenance nature means you're free to go away any enjoy a peaceful holiday. Before you leave, top up the supply of food and open the tap open with a container underneath to keep the Wormery dry.

To finish, an opportunity to dispel a myth and settle one of the most common questions about worms. Do both sides of a worm live when cut in half? The answer, unfortunately, is no. One side may survive, but usually it won't.

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