If you buy a wormery, it will normally be supplied with a starter kit containing bedding such coir blocks. These will normally require soaking before being added to the wormery. If making a home made wormery, an 8-10 cm layer of moist compost can be
used as the initial bedding material.
Bedding for the worms is important to a succesful wormery. The worms will eat the bedding but it also provides a place to bury the food for the worms, insulation, moisture retention, a source
of carbon and allows the movement of air through the medium. Suitable materials for bedding include shredded computer paper or newspaper, coir, peat moss, leaf mould or wood chip. Mature manure is used by some but is likely to produce an
odour (at least during the initial stages).
The worms supplied with the wormery, purchased from a “fishing” shop or taken from an existing wormery or manure heap are then added. Some sources recommend leaving the worms to settle but
others suggest adding a layer of kitchen waste at this stage. The worms should then the left undisturbed for about a week so that they can settle into their new home.
Once the worms have had a chance to settle into their new home feed them little
and often. I normally feed mine twice a week as that is about the time it takes to fill the kitchen caddy. It is better to chop, or tear, the food into small pieces so that it starts to rot and can be eaten more quickly. The food can either be buried, about
3-5cm deep, in the bedding material/compost to create feeding pockets of placed on top of the compost. Placing the food on the compost makes it easier to monitor whether the worms are eating it and helps avoid overfeeding.
If the burial pocket technique
is used it is best to divide the wormery into squares or rectangles and work round burying the food in successive squares.
If the worms are normally fed twice a week each square will have food added about once a month allowing plenty of time for
the last food in the square to have been broken down or eaten.
I add Cardboard or shredded paper to provide a carbon source each time I feed the worms their kitchen scraps.
Deciding on how much to feed the worms is in practice a matter of trail
and error. I have checked a number of sources which give weights of food and have discovered that the maths do not always add up. It is generally recognised that worms can eat up to half their own body weight every day so if you started your
wormery by buying a kilo of worms you are looking to feed 0.5kg of food waste per day or 3.5 kg a week. As the worms can double in numbers every 60-90 days this can be increased gradually. Do not following this guideline blindly
check on what is happening in the bin the amount eaten will vary with the conditions, temperature etc. I tend to divide the contents of my 5 litre worm food caddy between my three wormeries at home based on the tried and tested method of looking
to see how much they have eaten.
Once the wormery is established in can be left without attention for three or four weeks so it will not be necessary to take the worms on holiday with you. However they will continue producing “worm wee”
and I would suggest that the reservoir tap is left open over a tray or bottle so that the compost does not become waterlogged