There’s something wiggling in my hallway

Filed in Blog by on January 25, 2010 21 Comments
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The Worm Cafe from Wiggly Wigglers

The Worm Cafe from Wiggly Wigglers

You remember I said on Friday we had someone who was happy to eat my slimy cucumber? Well our worms have arrived, thanks to the lovely Heather at Wiggly Wigglers.

Well, Little Miss Green has been asking me for a pet since our beloved cat died, so what better than a pile of worms!?

No, I’m not a horrible Mum, LMG loves all creatures great and small, and as an instinctive nurturer she is really excited about taking care of her wiggly friends. When I garden, it takes ten times as long as usual because each worm has to be rescued, reunited with its mother and wrapped up in a special bed made of leaves. She’s currently taking care of a butterfly that has lived in our home since the autumn and tears flow if she finds a dead woodlouse in the wood pile.

We have the ‘worm cafe‘ which, Heather assures me, is supposed to be the easiest wormery to set up and take care of. That’s good news; I’m more used to mammals covered with fur complete with four legs and tails (although I did have a cat with 3 1/2 legs once), so slidey things that live in the dark (oh, wait a minute, I had a cat who lived in a kitchen cupboard too) are a bit out of my league.

The worm cafe consists of 4 plastic trays stacked on top of one another.

The top tray is where you put all your food scraps, covered by a moisture mat

The second tray is where our wiggly friends do all their work turning our rubbish into a resource

The third tray is where we eventually collect lovely dark, rich compost which we can use on our garden

The bottom tray collects liquid fertiliser which can be watered down and given to houseplants!

Apparently, happy worms will gobble up to half their own weight in food each day and they’ll munch through the following bewildering array of stuff:

  • Cooked food scraps
  • tea leaves and coffee grounds
  • fruit and vegetable peelings
  • crushed egg shells
  • shredded paper and cardboard
  • vacuum cleaner dust
  • hair from your hair brush
  • wool and cotton
  • hamster and gerbil droppings!

Not exactly fussy are they? You can also give them the contents of your fermented bokashi bin to have a root through AND, unlike a cat or dog, you can go away for a couple of weeks and no one needs to take care of them. They sounds like the perfect pet to me!

I’ll let you know how we get on.

What about you? Do you have a wormery? Any tips to share, experiences to shout about or advice to give us? What are your worm’s likes and dislikes?

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (21)

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  1. Jane says:

    Congratulations on the arrival of your new pets!

    This was the best Christmas present that my father gave me quite a few years ago (also from Wiggly Wigglers). (Nobody else took me seriously when I said that was what I wanted. My husband gave me perfume etc…) Mine was a tall wheelie bin type. Then the round stacking type was introduced and I now have one of those. The stacking type is much easier to use and the rectangular one is an even better shape for a small town garden IMO and I wish they’d had those then!

    Don’t forget to drain off the liquid (especially after it has been raining). I just put it on the garden. (It is strong and supposed to be watered down.)

    Good Luck!

  2. Nick Palmer says:

    They need to be in a fairly sheltered (from the rain) spot or the bottom fills up too soon and you can get drowned worms. The rain enters though the gaps between the trays (or at least it does on the round wormery). Little Miss Green will have loads of worms to rescue too – every time you lift the lid, there are tiny baby worms in the groove. A strong fibre or very thin twig is useful here to lift them up…

    Oh, when the moisture mat they supply has been eaten, it can be replaced by a nice thick bit of plastic carpet, cut to shape.

  3. LJayne says:

    oooooooooooooooooh, I want a wormery! I have a big birthday coming up this year and people never know what to buy me! Plus we struggle in the winter even with a compost heap and a green cone.

  4. Jane says:

    @LJayne: I do hope you succeed in someone taking you seriously!!!

  5. John Costigane says:

    The wormery-produced compost can save the 1.25oz plastic packaging waste associated with peat-free compost bags. This is a more recent issue since our enthusiasts’ ‘grow your own’ activities last year. It therefore makes a good Zero Waste addition to home composting and bokashi use. I will follow your progress closely during the year with a view to starting a wormery to compliment my bokashi bin.

    The bokashi’s fermented material has to be ‘buried’ under soil or between layers of composting matter in the home composter. Direct use in the wormery should be thoroughly checked because fermented fat/bone/meat forms part of the bokashi output in normal use.

  6. Claire Brown says:

    i’ve been using Wiggly Wigglers worm bins for about 12 years now, and think that they are fab, I’ve got a can of worms and additionally, I started a worm cafe in November. – as well as kitchen waste, don’t forget to feed loo roll middles and cardboard that isn’t plastisised. – I think that the moisture mats are great, but i’m too stingy to buy them most of the time, so I use all my shredded security paper (e.g envelopes, old statements) which I put in a quite thick layer over everything when i’ve filled a layer, and then I know no-one’s going to find out my secrets as they get eaten!
    I drained about 5 pints of liquid from mine this weekend, – last emptied at the beginning of December, so don’t believe they go to sleep in the winter, – mine are still working fine. – and I don’t need to buy any plant food all year.

  7. Ben says:

    You should let me know how this goes….. I have an indoor electric composter and it would be interesting to see how this works.

  8. Jane says:

    @Claire Brown: Yes worms eat my bank statements etc too! I also put flattened egg boxes on the top too – the cardboard ones of course. In times of stress their main diet is mostly tea bags and banana skins but they just keep on munching.

  9. Sarah says:

    I think I want a wormery! I shall add it to my wish list…..

  10. Jane says:

    @Ben: An indoor electric composter – that sounds interesting. No argument then about the garden being too small! But what do you do with the compost that is created when the composter is full?

  11. Lisa says:

    I have a Worm Works wormery and love it. One solution to the problem of rain getting in ,is to simply chuck an opened out tough plastic bag over the top (ideal reuse for compost bags). Easy 🙂 A damp newspaper or thick layer of brown packaging paper works just as well as any moisture mat.

    My worms are not keen on potato peelings but they ADORE tea leaves and lettuce!

  12. Deb from Boston says:

    Lucky LMG. When I was a kid I had a cardboard box with dirt and worms as pets. My mom wasn’t too pleased when she found it!

  13. Charity says:

    We gave up on ours after the worms all died :(. They don’t do well when it is too cold. We also found that we got masses of fruit flies as we were putting in too much stuff and the worms couldn’t keep up.

    One tip is not to put avocado skins in as they don’t eat them. We proved that very thoroughly.

  14. Jane says:

    You need to let them settle in before you feed them an awful lot of stuff. I’m sure I read somewhere that they don’t seem to mind freezing weather and it just slows them down. It is only too much water that I have had a problem with and that was with the old wheelie bin type wormery. The worms have always seemed much happier in the newer layered one.

  15. Worms can survive freezing and thawing – they are used to the outdoors in real life I spose! Even if something completely wipes out your worms the eggs almost always survive and then will hatch and start all over again. The main thing about a wormery is to think about it as a process not a machine. Once you work with worms they are pretty, fast pretty resilient and pretty cool (mind I could be biased….) :0)

  16. Kirsty says:

    I’ve been thinking about buying a womery for a few months now, as my garden composter is full, and I dont’ really have the space for another one. I also have a bokashi kitchen caddy, contents of which I started to put directly into my small raised beds. However, it does attract furry little animals especially when the country is covered in snow and there is nothing for them to eat. So I’m reluctant to continue with the raised bed’s scenario.

    Seeing your article has made up my mind, and I’ve just purchased the Worm Cafe from Wiggly Wormers. I’ve chosen a sheltered location in my garden, and am looking forward to my delivery asap.

    How do you gauge the amount of food peelings to give them, to ensure that the food doesn’t rot if not eaten quickly enough?

  17. Mrs Green says:

    @Jane: Thanks Jane. At the moment it’s inside, but we’re planning on a fairly sheltered spot in the garden. Good tip about the rain though, thanks!

    @Nick Palmer: Thanks about the carpet idea; that’s great – we have some in the garage that is wool. I take it it needs to be natural fibres?

    @LJayne: Well there you go then – Big Birthday sorted for you! Tell Wiggly Wigglers we sent you 😉

    @John Costigane: Hi JOhn, yes we got it to compliment the bokashi system. We’ll be providing regular updates – so far it doesn’t look like they’ve eaten anything, but I’ve heard it can take months for it to get going; like nature, it’s a slow process 🙂

    @Claire Brown: great idea for the shredded statements – thanks. It sounds like your worms are very happy!

    @Ben: An indoor electric composter sounds intriguing. I need to read up on your blog – I’ve seen it mentioned on there but don’t know much about it.

    @Sarah: You never know, Sarah – ask and you might just get 🙂

    @Lisa: thanks for the dietary info, Lisa – I’ll try both tea bags and lettuce; so far they have, erm, potato peelings; perhaps that is why they haven’t eaten much 😉

    @Deb from Boston: Hahahaha, I remember trying to keep a snail in a fish tank once and I was distraught to find it slithered away in the night 🙁

    @Charity: thanks Charity – what a shame it didn’t work out for you – I’ve heard about the fruit flies, so we’re taking it very slowly

    @Heather Gorringe: brilliant – thanks Heather; you’ve put my mind at rest. I think I am being far too nurturing and should just trust more.

    @Kirsty: Hi Kirsty, great to hear about your purchase. I don’t know about how to guage the amount – the advise is to start slowly and build up once it’s eaten… Let us know how you go 🙂

  18. Sarah says:

    @Mrs Green: It’s my birthday in march and I might just ask family for “Money for garden stuff” because there are a couple of things I want, inc a wormery – which sounds like huge fun! Although I have the guinea pig, the hens, 2 compost bins and I already make plant food by the bucket load from comfrey. Between all that pretty much anything that’s compostable gets composted in one form or another. It’s only the really tough woody bits that we struggle with.

    Do I really *need* a wormery?

  19. Nick Palmer says:

    Re moisture mat:
    No – if it’s natural fibres, the worms will eat them, which is OK but then you’ll have to make a new moisture mat. I said plastic carpet because the worms don’t touch it (like the plastic in tea bags!).

    If you want to digest woollen carpet, it’ll take a long time as worm chow…

  20. Mrs Green says:

    @Sarah: 😀 well maybe you don’t NEED a wormery, but it would be fun. Can you currently get rid of small fish bones and cooked meat and fish? A wormery will deal with that for you.

    @Nick Palmer: That’s great – thanks nick! You sound like a pro!

  21. Sarah says:

    @Mrs Green: No, I don’t “need” a wormery but it would provide a valuable addition to the garden as well as being lots of fun. Currently any unusable cooked meats go out for the birds and there’s not a lot of it tbh. We don’t often have any fish bones as DD and I hate them so we buy filletted fish or pre-prepared fish. Very naughty I know but we do like the taste.

    Ah well, maybe later this year, will see.

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