Composting in a third floor flat. Impossible right? Well, no, thankfully not!
We have been working with Wiggly Wigglers (probably the best company name imaginable for gardening supplies) and they have sent us Urbalive wormeries to try out. We have both used ours for about a month now, so have pulled together our experiences of the setting up and maintaining a wormery, so you can decide if this is the right method for you.
Composting in general goes hand in hand with Zero Waste living. Organic waste which ends up in landfill doesn’t break down due to the fact that it is so tightly packed with other non-organic waste that the decomposition process never starts. According to Permaculture news, 20%-30% of the waste that ends up in landfills should have been composted.
Imaging if we can send 30% less to landfill worldwide- that would be epic!
Using a wormery or vermicomposting (that is its fancy name) to compost waste is different to other composting methods as, yep, you guessed it, there are worms involved. A basic wormery can be two boxes stacked on top of one another. The top box would need a lid and air holes. The worms are fed the organic waste, which they nibble on. They then produce ‘worm tea’… basically urine, which is collected at the base of the wormery. The worm tea is AMAZING for plants and can be diluted in a watering can. The worms also produce nutrient rich compost, which I am intending to use to plant seedlings in.
I received the wormeries, and promptly set mine up, as the worms shouldn’t be in their packaging for longer than 24 hours. The following day, I travelled to Anna’s house, to set her wormery up with her.
The box for the wormery was big. So big that I couldn’t carry in my arms, so used a granny shopping trolley to help me shift it from Birmingham to London, all the while getting very strange looks as people read the content of the box. The things I do for blog content, hey!
So, more about the wormery. These were the thoughts we had before we set up the wormery:
Is the set up easy?
It was super easy to set up. This wormery has three layers to it and a lid, so it is pretty fancy compared to other ones out there. All the layers easily slot into one another.
There was a little bit of DIY involved, which we weren’t expecting. The wooden legs need to be screwed into the base of the wormery, and a hole needs to be drilled in order to get the screws into the wood. Anna and I opted to just stack the layers on top of the legs and not use the screws. We both told ourselves we would put the screws in in the future, but hey, we all know we will probably forget!
All the instructions we received were easy to follow. We soaked the ‘bedding block’ of dehydrated soil first, whilst we filled a layer with some shredded cardboard from the packaging. We then added the worms, let them settle in and started feeding them little scraps of organic waste.
What can go in it?
All organic waste can go in, including cooked vegetables, which I was surprised at! Meat and fish bones cannot go in. Onions, shallots, leeks and garlic can be added in small amounts, but are best cooked first, according to RHS
The instructions from Wiggly Wigglers also suggests to not add potato peelings, due to the smell as they break waste down. About 20% of all you put in can be paper and card. This helps soak up extra moisture.
Does it smell?
Nope, not with the lid closed. It has a very faint compost smell when the lid is lifted, but this
is faint, due to the fact that the worms are eating away.
Do the worms escape?
Um, yep! I have now moved my wormery to my allotment, but when I first set it up it was in our living room. My boyfriend spotted an escaping worm in our corridor! You can see why we moved it! Wiggly Wigglers say that worms are like cats (!) when they first move house, as they try to escape. If they are put back into the wormery, they will settle within a week.
These wormeries came to us new, which meant there was some plastic wrap used in the packaging. If you are adamant to avoid this, it may be best to buy a wormery second hand or make your own.
If you hate worms, I can see that this may be a bad option for you! Zero Waste Home have a good description of other types of composters you can use or make, if the idea of seeing worms is just too much to handle!
How is it a month on?
I LOVE mine. I think it is such an easy way to reduce organic waste. I really like using the wormery as well as my normal compost bin, as I can get the worm tea and nutrient rich soil from the worms, and still compost large amounts of organic waste from the allotment in my composter.