What can I reuse or recycle to build a wormery/vermicomposter?

We’ve had an email from Kate/Glitter Pixie:

Hi, I wonder if the Recycle This community can help. My husband and I have finally moved into a house with outdoor space and want to seize the opportunity to begin composting. However, our yard is completely concreted over so a normal compost bin won’t work. I’ve done a bit of research and think a wormery might be the ticket but they are so expensive! I just want to make a haven for the little wriggly guys we buy, so does anyone have any neat ideas about how to build a wormery and what to use? (obviously reusing general household junk where possible). Thanks so much you guys, absolutely love the site, you are awesome!

(She’s right – you guys in the Recycle This community are awesome!)

Normal compost bins would work on concrete – we just had a piece of wood underneath our open-bottomed one at our old house to facilitate air circulation and moving it around (although we have yet to move it to our new house – that’s going to be quite a effort!) – but wormeries are great too, working a bit quicker so don’t need to be as big – plus who doesn’t want 1000 new wriggly pets? ;)

I’m tempted to build a wormery too for dealing with dog & cat poo (the output can’t be used on veg, which limits our use of it here but better than it going to landfill) so any suggestions?

A lot of the commercial ones I’ve seen have been tray-based to allow easy rotation/access to the new vermicompost. The trays have mesh bottoms to allow the worms to move constantly upwards in search of food – when they reach the top, whip the bottom tray out to the top and start filling that one instead. The trays should fit together snugly – the bottoms touching if it wasn’t for the waste matter – rather than stacked to allow the worms to travel about. They also tend to have a drip tray at the bottom for collecting liquid run-off (which is a great fertiliser).

There are also ones more like purpose bought compost heaps – with an access hatch at the bottom. Possibly easier to make but apparently harder to keep healthy when you’re new to wormerying.

Also any suggestions for where to get the worms? Any types of worms to look out for/avoid?

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5 Responses to “What can I reuse or recycle to build a wormery/vermicomposter?”

  1. john b says:

    I made one using a plastic dustbin with holes drilled in the bottom for drainage. i put a couple of inches of gravel into the bottom then covered it with the same depth of soggy cardboard into which i put the worms (brandling worms, available from fishing shops in the bait section they’re the red stripey ones).
    it worked ok my only complaint being that it didnt work fast enough and fruit flies started to be a problem, i think the reason was that i’d only put a couple of pots of worms in (probably about 40 – 50 worms and the recomended minimum is around 1000 to start with, i thought they’d reproduce a bit quicker than they did!).
    once they’d increased the population enough then pretty much anything that went in got composted and when i finally gave up and emptied the whole thing into my ordinary compost bin there was lots of lovely compost and considerably more worms than i started with.
    i think wriggly wrigglers sell packs of around 1000 worms to start a home made bin, a worthwhile investment in my opinion as it’ll be cheaper than buying loads of small pots from the fishing shop.

  2. Bobbie says:

    I made my own worm bin a few years ago. I had an old refrigerator that stopped working and used the steel ceramic interior for the “bin” part. Luckily it already had a hole in the bottom for drainage. I made an air flow top out of scrap lumber and screening material which just laid on the top of the bin. The legs were just cement blocks. An old man told me how to prepare it: Take a bale of spaghnum moss, place it in the bin and wet it thoroughly but not overly so. Wait one month before adding worms. Feed the worms any vegetative matter by laying on the top. Keep the screen down so you don’t get flies laying eggs in the bin.

  3. Bellen says:

    Two books that may be at your local library –
    Worms Eat my Garbage and The Worm Book –
    should be able to help.

    We’ve used a commercial set up that worked well but quite expensive and
    a 5-gallon bucket, in our basement over the winter, that just as well and cost
    nothing – bucket free, earthworms from our compost pile and kitchen garbage.

  4. Linda says:

    Used teabags are good at keeping the whitefly population down.
    There are websites that have instructions for wormery out of tyres, a small bit of corrugated, and a few other odds and ends. A friend has made one.
    I don’t have a separate worm farm. I put some tiger worms in the main compost with plenty of wet newspaper and they have been breeding like crazy there. They seem to be in higher concentration where there is old wet paper products.

  5. Pet says:

    I made a wormery from 3 old plastic containers from the charity shop, of which the upper 2 fits well in each other.
    I got the idea from this website (in Dutch)
    The upper 2 containers have some holes, so that the worms can go up when compost in the lower container is done and the liquid can go down.
    It costs around 3 euros and 6 euro for a the worms.
    They multiply very fast, so it works very well.
    They seem to like old coffee very much.
    I just started the wormery with some compost from my other compost bins (or from your neighbours?).

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