Tuesday, September 01, 2015

The Hotbin 3 years on...

I've had my Hotbin since 2012 and blogged about it a year later to say how I was finding it and got some great advice from the guys at Hotbin which really helped keep it functioning well.

Recently Hotbin have started up a forum for users to get hints & tips, ask general questions and get experience and help from others and I can honestly say it has been a bit of an eye opener for me and I've picked up a few things well worth sharing.

For the whole of this year I have been struggling to get the temperature above 50C with occasional peaks of 55C on hot days, a far cry from the 60-65C I can normally get during the summer months.

Well thanks to the forum I heard that the air holes at the bottom can become blocked which seriously impedes the flow of air and therefore stops the bin from reaching the temperatures it is capable of.

I empty my normal compost bins twice a year and decided to empty the Hotbin as well and give it a good clean, which other than the lid is not really something I've bothered with beforehand.  So (and thanks to the forum for this tip as well) I removed the top layer of uncomposted waste  and laid it on some cardboard for adding back later.  This waste was hot and VERY smelly!  The reason for doing this was so that when I emptied the compost from the bottom of the bin the fresher stuff didn't slip down and mix with the ready stuff still stuck at the back.

The compost at the bottom of the bin wasn't quite ready as it was quite compacted but it was good enough to go in my normal compost bins for ageing.  I've done this before and come next March this stuff will be finished and ready for mulching my plants so it's all good.

And sure enough, once the bin was empty and I started to clean it the air holes at the bottom were completely blocked.  While trying to sort them out I noticed that the very bottom could be removed and cleaned separately. That will teach me to read the instructions!  



This has not been cleaned like this since I got it in 2012 so I'm sure it will make a difference, especially when you see what was underneath the tray!

That brown sludge is exactly that, almost solid sludge stopping air from coming in from the grill.  I removed it with a trowel and gave the whole thing a good wash with the hose pipe before putting everything back together and adding a layer of bark and the previously removed top layer back in.

The bin is now less than a quarter full and the temperature 2 hours later was already showing at 50C from the thermometer in the lid. I've heard it said that the lid thermometer often shows as 10C less than the actual waste but I wasn't adding the other thermometer as it was too far down and I didn't fancy falling in!

Tip of the day: Do not clean a Hotbin with a high powered hosepipe while you have washing on the line - it does not make you a popular husband :)  


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Troubleshooting Your Wormery

Further to the damp and compacted conditions you can find in your wormery after prolonged rain and/or Winter - see http://blog.sherlock.co.uk/2015/04/looking-after-your-wormery-in-spring.html - what else should you look out for?

Here’s 5 of the most common things I see in my wormeries:

1. Insects
In the winter and early spring there isn't much of a problem but as things start to warm up there are a number of insects who somehow manage to make a home in your wormery.  Most are OK as they (or their larvae) eat the waste and generally help in the process of breaking things down nicely.  As you get more experienced you will be able to match up the conditions with the insect and act accordingly.

Some of the more common ones are:
a) Pot worms - these are small white worms that many people mistake for baby worms.  They are fine if you don’t mind them BUT they do indicate damp conditions and a compost that is starting to become acidic.  To get rid of them in the short term leave a slice of bread in the wormery overnight.  

Small white pot-worms
The next morning you will find said bread absolutely teeming with pot worms so remove it and put it on the bird table to give your birds a treat.  In the long term you need to aerate the compost so mix in some shredded paper and cardboard as well as a hand full of lime mix if you have some. This will bring down the pH and make for happier worms.

b) Springtails - these are very small white insects that aid the composting and are totally harmless as they eat fungi that grows on the waste. I use them as an indication that things are generally functioning well.
Springtails in amongst the worms
c) Fruit flies - they love the fruit you add and do no damage to the worms at all BUT there’s nothing quite like opening the lid and having them swarm up your nose and in your ears so you’re going to want to discourage them wherever possible. The perfect way to do this is to get into the habit of wrapping all your food waste in a sheet of newspaper before adding it to the wormery. The paper soaks up some moisture, the worms will eat it from below and yet the waste is protected from the fruit flies who can’t get to it to lay their eggs.  This is an especially good idea during the summer months. Alternatively, bury the waste underneath a good layer of shredded paper, again so the flies cannot get at it to lay their eggs.

d) Ants - these are a real pain because they cart off the cocoons (worm eggs that each contain a number of baby worms) so your worm population will suffer in the long run.  To keep them out you can stand the wormery legs in jars of water (ants won’t cross water) but if they do get in you will probably have to go hunting for the queen and remove her.  They are also an indication that the wormery is too dry so it may be worth adding some water to dampen the compost a bit. I know, I've been telling you how to stop the wormery getting too wet! It’s one of the reasons to keep a regular eye on things.

2. Overfeeding
Really this is one of the most common problems people have and it can be disastrous, especially with a new wormery.

When you first get a wormery add small amounts of kitchen waste and paper and keep an eye on how the worms are coping.  Once the population increases you can start increasing the amount of waste but always keep an eye on things.  Once established I try to make sure there is pure vermicompost about 3-4 inches below the top layer and that the worms are working well in your current layer of food.  This helps stop them from being over faced with too much to choose from and will keep conditions optimal.  

Another thing to remember is that most new wormeries come with a coir block to act as an immediate bedding and people worry that the worms are reluctant to move up to their kitchen waste.  This is because they are quite happy eating the coir block so only add a small amount of kitchen waste at first, a hefty amount of shredded paper and leave them to it for a bit.  They will move onto the kitchen waste once they are ready - just keep a regular eye on things so you know when to start feeding them more.

3. Type of waste
So what exactly can you feed your worms?  Well, they love variety (as do we all) so try and vary what you give them.  The following is a rough list of the things they like and what you should avoid:

Good:
  • Kitchen food waste such as vegetable peelings, tea leaves and coffee grounds.  Be aware that with teabags quite a few have a quantity of nylon in them to hold them together so although the worms will break into them and eat the tea leaves you may well be left with the odd teabag ‘ghost’.  They won’t bother the worms but you will notice them when you come to use the compost - just remove them when you add to other compost or borders if you want. I use a lot of teabags and it really doesn't cause a problem.
  • Fruit peelings such as banana skins and apple cores (beware of fruit flies with these - follow the tips above for wrapping your waste in newspaper).
  • Crushed up egg shells - the worms need the grit that these provide and they help with the pH of the compost. Worms lack teeth though so a great tip is to dry the shells in the bottom of the oven while you cook something else.  They can then easily be crushed into a powder and sprinkled into the wormery.
  • Shredded or torn up paper; newspaper, bank statements, credit card receipts, toilet roll inners, kitchen paper and tissues as well as brown corrugated cardboard from the likes of Amazon etc.

Bad (or at least not so good):
  • Cooked food such as meat or fish - this will rot and smell as well as invite unwanted guests to appear (to compost such things why not try Bokashi, a system that is sealed and works brilliantly with most things that a wormery can’t handle).
  • Citrus fruit and onion peelings as they are acidic. Very small doses may be OK but I find it best to avoid where possible, and add some lime every now and then.
  • Animal manure though possibly OK is best avoided as you cannot guarantee that it isn't from an animal recently wormed (disastrous).  Worms also cannot break down any pathogens it may contains so the finished compost may not be great for vegetable production etc.  I have used a wormery for dogs mess but a lot of care needs to be taken and I've only used the finished product for under the hedge.  

4. Position
Where you keep your wormery can really make a difference. You want it close to the house but sheltered enough to keep it safe.
In the Spring and summer try and keep it out of direct sunlight otherwise it will heat up quickly in the sun, bake the worms (or make them try and escape), cause excess condensation that then makes the compost too wet and generally make for a less than stable environment for your worms to work (too hot one minute and then quickly cooling down etc).
In the winter it needs to be out of the wind and rain so it doesn't get too cold and wet for all the reasons mentioned previously.
Try and keep a weight on the lid, such as a house brick.  This holds the lid firmly in place during windier weather as well minimising the number of escapees when conditions aren't optimal inside the wormery (especially when newly set-up).

Brick to help keep lid in place and bottle for collecting leachate
5. Regularly empty the sump
It is a really good idea to get into the habit of emptying the sump on a regular basis.  If it gets too full the compost will get wet causing soggy, anaerobic conditions as well as possibly drowning your worms.  The worm tea (leachate) makes a great liquid feed during the growing season and can be stored throughout the winter (or just poured directly on your borders).  Either way getting into the habit of emptying the sump is good so you avoid the sudden realisation that it hasn't stopped raining for a couple of weeks and you haven’t been doing it.  I guarantee you will find the odd dead worm come from the tap when you do get round to it and I wouldn't worry about it.  They seem to go to the sump to die - I just re-add them to the top when I check the bin over.

Conclusion
I appreciate there is quite a lot of information there but if you take the time to give the wormery a Spring clean and check over it will soon reward you with some fantastic compost for top dressing house plants and vegetables such potted tomatoes etc. You can then look forward to another bumper year safe in the knowledge that your waste is now working for you, as are your worms.

Looking after your wormery in the Spring


Now Spring is starting to show itself it is time to bring your wormery out of the garage, greenhouse or wherever you have kept it over the Winter months to keep your little workers warm and dry and, hopefully, still productive while the temperatures have been lower.  Of course some of you may have kept them out during winter and just kept the sump drained during the wetter times so that your hard working wigglers don’t drown but either way it is worth doing a quick check to make sure everything is functioning as we want and to prepare them for another year of transforming stuff we would normally throw away in amazing compost.

So What Makes A Wormery So Great?
For a quick run-down of what a wormery is and how it works this post covers the basics - http://blog.sherlock.co.uk/2015/04/so-what-makes-wormery-so-great.html


Getting a wormery moving again in Spring
Worms work best when it is warm and slow down a lot if the temperature drops.  In the winter it is generally a good idea to keep them somewhere warm and dry and feed them slightly less (tips and tricks here can be found at http://www.wigglywigglers.co.uk/blog/getting-your-wormery-ready-for-the-winter/)


But now Spring is on the way and the temperatures will (hopefully) start to rise you can bring them out of your shed or garage and start them as normal again (keeping a close eye on how fast they are dealing with what you give them).  


Slightly damp top layer
It’s a good time to check the state of the wormery itself as heavy winter rains may have left the bedding wet and soggy, which will compact the waste and block all the air pockets. Worms need oxygen to breathe and function well and don’t do well in compacted soil or compost.  Less oxygen also means an increase in anaerobic bacteria that can lead to rotting food, acidic conditions and some nasty smells.  These conditions mean your worms will be far from happy and may ultimately die so it’s a good time to check conditions and rectify them so that they are working optimally, ready to start creating that lovely compost you want for the forthcoming planting season.  Even if kept somewhere dry and warm it’s certainly worth checking everything is OK.


So what do you need to look for?
1. How wet is the compost and waste?  
If it’s very soggy you should mix in some shredded paper and/or cardboard (the Amazon box type cardboard is perfect).  I avoid glossy paper but any other shredded paper (credit card receipts and bank statements etc) should be OK as inks are mostly vegetable based these days.  Also, check all trays because if it’s wet in the top one it’s  likely to be the same in the others and you may need to add a layer of shredded paper to the middle layer as well.  This has the added advantage of allowing the worms to climb up to the next layer easier if it’s the type of wormery that holds the trays at a certain layer (can-o-worms and worm cafe for example).


Layer of shredded paper
2. Has the waste started to rot?
If you have overfed during the winter months then there may well be a layer of rotting food that will lead to anaerobic conditions, higher acidity and ultimately some nasty smells and dead worms. Be warned that once a bin goes off in this way mass worm death can easily follow and the smell will be so bad that you will never forget it.  It happened to me once with a wormery that had been perfectly happy for about 10 years - the smell was so bad I can actually taste it now just thinking about it!  

So, waste that is rotten and smelly should be removed as soon as possible and placed in a normal compost bin or heap where it will break down happily over time.  Chances are the bin will be quite acidic at this time so if you have some lime mix add a handful or two (most wormeries come with a small bag of lime mix to help you balance out the pH while it is being established).  Then fill the tray with as much shredded paper as you can (it is impossible for worms to overdose on paper) and leave them for a while before adding any new waste in small doses.
Lime mix and other accessories can of course be purchased from Wiggly Wigglers - http://www.wigglywigglers.co.uk/composting/wormery-extras/wormery-accessories.html


3. Do you still have worms?
Daft as this may sound but worms rot down very quickly once they die and if your bin has suffered a lot from frost, cold or anything else they may not like then they could all have died off.  Don’t worry though, they will almost certainly have left behind cocoons that will hatch and build up your population again but it is a slow process.  Once you know the Winter is truly over it may well be worth buying a new batch of worms to kick start things again.  These can be purchased from http://www.wigglywigglers.co.uk/composting/worms.html


4. Emptying the bottom tray
Now your wormery has made it through the Winter the bottom tray is likely ready to empty but there’s likely still the odd worm in there and this has been the cause of many a discussion.  Please read a previous article I wrote on emptying the bottom tray that can be found at http://blog.sherlock.co.uk/2009/03/emptying-bottom-layer-of-your-worm-bin.html

Conclusion
This should be enough to make sure your wormery is in tip-top condition for the new year but you'll still need to keep a close eye on things, especially in the UK where we have such changeable weather and quite a bit of rain.

Make sure you position your wormery somewhere out of extreme weather if possible, empty the sump regularly (for all that free plant food if nothing else) and keep a brick on the lid to stop it from blowing away if it is more open to the elements than necessary.

And above all else keep an eye on them to check they are keeping up with what you are feeding them.





So what makes a wormery so great?


For those of you who don’t yet own a wormery and wonder quite what all the fuss is about read on…

Can-o-worms wormery

In short, a wormery is a fantastic way of taking your kitchen waste and transforming it (in the form of ‘castings’) into a compost so high in nutrient value that I often refer to it more as a fertiliser than a mere compost.  It diverts such kitchen waste from landfill (if your Council doesn't already collect it) but also saves you from having to then buy in compost and mulch later in the year when you need it in your garden. A wormery will also produce a fantastic liquid fertliser that, when watered down at about 10:1, will provide organic feed to all your plants and vegetables thereby saving you yet more money.  If you don’t have plants to feed then just adding it to your borders will help improve the structure of your soil with a multitude of friendly nutrients and organisms.  If you don’t have plants or borders I’m sure there will be gardeners a plenty happy to take the castings and liquid feed off your hands (at least if they realise how powerful it is).

Composting with a wormery is a great way for people without the room for a compost bin or heap to compost.  They are generally small and neat and can be kept close to the house to save the trip down a cold and windswept garden in the winter.  “Eww, but  what about the smell?”, I hear you say.  Simple, there isn’t one!  Really, if a wormery is working correctly the compost should have a slight earthy smell and not cause any problem at all.

They come in all shapes and sizes as well but generally consist of a number of trays and a sump. Once the first tray is full you add the second and the worms will wiggle their way up through the holes in the tray above to get to the layer of new waste (generally once they have finished the tray they are currently in of course).  Once that tray is full you add another and the process continues until the last one is full, by which time the bottom one should now consist of a beautiful black gold, known as vermicompost, ready to be applied to plants as a top dressing, mixed with other compost to make a potting mixture or just added to your borders as a fertiliser-come-mulch that will feed the plants every time it rains as well as improve the quality of your soil in the long run.

Bottom tray, ready for emptying
For help with how best to empty the bottom tray please read http://blog.sherlock.co.uk/2009/03/emptying-bottom-layer-of-your-worm-bin.html

Resources
Wiggly Wigglers no longer sell wormeries but they do still sell the necessary items for keeping them in tip top condition - http://www.wigglywigglers.co.uk/composting/wormery-extras/wormery-accessories.html

Worm City sell a British built stacking wormery - http://www.wormcity.co.uk/wormeries.htm

Sunday, May 12, 2013

HotBin Composting

I've just finished reading Jane Perrone's post on her experience with her HotBin and it reminded me I have been thinking of writing about my own experiences for a while, especially now that I've had it over 12 months so have seen it perform in all seasons.
Like Jane I was excited to take delivery because it meant I could compost all the things my wormery's and standard compost heaps couldn't, namely meat and cooked foods without the need for a Bokashi bin in the kitchen and the chance of it leaking and stinking the house out. Promised temperatures of 60C mean that even the problem of dogs mess can be eradicated because after half an hour or so at that temperature nothing nasty survives and it just becomes good old fashioned compost, saving me an awful lot of hassle (it sure beats bagging it in a plastic bag and putting straight into landfill).
Jane mentions that the bin is ugly but I disagree: It is a solidly built black polystyrene bin that slots in nicely down the side of the house in between my water butt and wormery's. I would even go as far as saying it is quite stylish looking, but you do have to bear in mind that I'm a bit strange when it comes to my composting set-up (touching on the fanatical when it comes to all things compost, even going as far as collecting banana skins and teabags from people at work and bringing them home to compost rather than let them go in landfill) ...
This is just after arriving and, untidy early Spring garden aside, I think it fits in quite neatly. When not over wintering in the greenhouse the wormery's live next to it so kitchen waste can easily be added rather than traipsing across to the lawn to the compost bins.
So how have things gone in the last 12 months?
First few months and emptying
I found it easy to get going and the compost-geek really kicks in when seeing the thermometer reading 60C and knowing that that means you are composting your waste at 32 times that of a normal compost bin (meaning usable compost in approximately 3 months!). However, Jane is right that it is a pig to empty. You remove the hatch and start forking out the finished compost only to find that the stuff above falls in its place before you get to the back, meaning not only is unfinished compost mixing with the good stuff but the compacted compost at the back stays there.
The "finished" compost is generally not the compost we are used to and will need ageing if it is going to be used as anything other than a rough mulch. You can either add it to a normal compost heap/bin for aging or add it to your wormery where the worms will go mad for it and turn it into even more beneficial vermicompost (more of a fertiliser than a compost). This is what I do now as I have 3 wormeries that were previously taking my kitchen waste but slowed down once the Hotbin arrived. They now take waste from the Hotbin every month or so and take another month or so to turn into vermicompsot for top dressing plants or adding round my vegetables as a mulch or feed.
Keeping the temperature up
The problem with emptying can cause problems with the air movement, which then results in the temperature dropping thereby slowing things down considerably. Once things get compacted the air vents in the bottom of the bin get blocked and the lack of air flow can cause the temperature to drop very quickly. I use a Compost mate that I bought from Wiggly Wigglers and currently costs £17.50 (worth every penny) for aerating the bin contents from above - you screw the tool into the compost and then pull out a plug of material creating a chimney that keeps the air flow working nicely (and the compost hot). However this can cause the newer stuff to fall deeper into the bin which means slightly longer before you can remove it.
In the summer keeping the bin hot is reasonably easy because you can add grass cuttings, though add too much and you get leachate leaking out of the bottom that attracts flies resulting in maggots and that silage-type pong oh so loved by ones wife (NOT!).
In the winter months however things are trickier and the bin maintenance becomes a weekly chore. I have found that adding LOTS of shredded paper helps in much the same way as it helps in a wormery; it keeps the air flow possible, dries out soggy compost (that can also restrict the airflow)and also keeps the temperature up as it composts quite quickly. I also add pelleted chicken manure to help keep the temperature up. So, the recipe is for each caddy of kitchen waste I add a handful of bark (supplied with the bin and also used for aerating the compost), a few handfuls of shredded paper and a cup full of chicken manure pellets. This keeps things working nicely as well as improve the quality of the finished product.
Conclusion
Much as I wouldn't swap it - when working well it works very well - and I'm turning kitchen waste round quickly for my plants at home and the allotment I don't think it is the single answer to all things compost. Much like my old composting set-up I think you need more than one bin, and at £149 that's unlikely because they are not what you would call cheap. With a second bin you would be able to have it composting nice and hot until it's full and then move onto the second bin. By the time the second was full the first should be done enough to be emptied completely and started again, thereby avoiding the emptying issues that make it so hard (and smelly) to use.
For more information and help Hotbin have a great Frequently asked questions section on their web site and are very good at answering queries both on Twitter and Facebook.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Portugal 2012

P1020587

The last thing a colleague at work said as I headed for the door ready to start my holiday was “Try and relax”, not something I'm very good at in general. Portugal in the summer is hot, sunny and laid back, especially where we were staying (Vila Nune) so I didn't think I would have too much trouble.

However, the start of the journey was typically eventful. When I say that I mean I am a Sherlock so little things go wrong; a last minute diversion to Morrison’s on the way to the airport for tea bags are a classic example of what my life is like.

On arrival at Porto airport the car we had hired was so smashed up we couldn't have it so we ended up with a much smaller car that, luckily, I could get all the bags in while still managing to fit the wife and children in.

It was late by this time and I was tired: It would appear so was the Sat Nav and we couldn't find the turning off the roundabout for love or money and even found ourselves about to head back onto the toll road until a kind local who spoke no English helped us reverse back up the road before removing whatever spell was hiding the correct exit so we could be on our way. Unfortunately, I had already panicked at the toll and driven through the camera bit that means I couldn’t pay for the ticket so would have to phone and pay later. Many minutes on my mobile later both the hire car company and the toll people said “wait for a notification”. I'm guessing that's Portuguese for 'fine' though one quote also said “if they can be bothered to send it”.

When we eventually found the villa, sometime around midnight, it was stunning. A little bit of unpacking was done while the kettle was on i.e. find those emergency tea bags from earlier, and we sat on the terrace drinking tea and staring at a moon-lit mountain opposite. I wish I had taken a picture as I've not managed to stay up long enough to see the moon again because it hides behind the mountain for quite a while.

The next morning we woke early (or I did) to stunning views and a pool that appears to be a trap for all things nasty: 1 scorpion, one lizard and at least 5 centipedes of about 10cm in length. Plus ants of all sizes, some of which would be scary looking if shown on Primeval! Once hoovered and the filter changed the pool is amazing and the most used (other than the kettle) part of the villa.

View from the villa View from the villa View from the villa

The downside to Vila Nune though is definitely the dogs and their incessant barking as soon as it goes dark. If I ever come back I will be either starting a new religion where any dog that barks after 9pm is sacrificed to the STFU God (loosely translated as the God Of Quiet), or smuggling in a silenced pistol and some night-vision goggles. They bark and howl all night and then spend the day asleep in the middle of the road so you have to go round them (the excess on the car hire is far too much to run the bastards over, no matter how tempting).

I could also do with learning the language; Portuguese reads like Spanish but sounds like an Eastern European language. No matter how hard you try the only word you can remember is obrigado/a for thank you and even then you mess up the gender! Anybody that knows me will be smiling to themselves when I hat not being able to communicate - it didn't stop us visiting places but it curtail some of the exploring in case somebody tried to talk to me (they speak little to no English and it's just embarrassing how little Portuguese I could master). This was highlighted daily when the bread man arrives (07:45 every morning) and I smile, point and shake hands a lot to buy what must be the cheapest bread  in the world.

We visited some lovely places but generally took it easy; trips out in the morning, a meal somewhere for lunch and then back to the villa for a swim in the pool and generally relax in the sun (when it wasn't so hot we hid in the shade).  Temperatures were between mid-20's and mid-30's in centigrade and, all in all, it was a glorious holiday, very relaxing, lots of reading, lots of swimming and a little bit of drinking...

Pictures are on Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/simonsherlock/sets/72157631015308600/

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Is your wormery prepared for winter?


Over on the Wiggly Wigglers blog I have just posted a small article on how you can look after your wormery over the Winter months.

It takes you through some of the things you need tokeep it as warm as possible so it doesn't freeze during the worst of the winter and how to  keep it dry by using a moisture mat (or extra paper and cardboard) as well as a rain cap to keep the majority of the rain off.

The full article can be read at http://wigglywigglers.blogspot.com/2010/10/getting-your-wormery-ready-for-winter.html

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Wiggly Wigglers 2010 Catalogue

Earlier in the year Heather from Wiggly Wigglers asked me to write a piece on composting and wormeries for their forthcoming catalogue.

I was really pleased with how they presented the article and I've had some great feedback about it (it caused some great discussions on the use of teabags as well) *

Anyway, the catalogue is soon to replaced by another edition and Heather kindly let me have a PDF version of my article. You can read/download it here.

* I still compost teabags, both in the wormery and the compost bin as I would rather have the odd "teabag ghost" than add to the methane build-up in landfill. If you'd rather not have the ghosts then it's worth trying tea leaves. I can heartily recommend Trumpers loose leaf tea as an alternative to tea bags, though to be honest I still like my PG Tips as well (sacrilege I hear some of you cry) :)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Setting up the wormery for Kingsley St. John's

A few weeks ago Wiggly Wigglers offered some freebies to organisations who might be able to make use of them and the children's school, Kingsley St. John's, was lucky enough to get offered a re-furbished can-o-worms and value pack.

I've been trying to get the school composting in some way shape and form for a while now so I went along to their eco-club to help set it up.

As you can see from the photo's the children were absolutely fascinated with the whole process of both composting their food waste and having the worms do it for them.

So while the coir block was soaking for the bedding I took them through adding the legs and fitting the tap while explaining why there was a sump and what the tap was for etc.  More than one knew why you collect the liquid and how good it is for fertilising plants but they were really fascinated when it came to adding the bedding and the worms themselves.



Everybody got to hold some worms as I pointed out the adults, babies and even a few cocoons (that hold between 1 and 20 baby worms).

I then explained about the trays and how we should feed food waste (preferably wrapped in a sheet or two of newspaper to stop the fruit flies), add lots of shredded paper for extra carbon and soaking up excess moisture as well as giving them the much needed dark that they work so well in.

So the school now has a wormery and they have a rota system for emptying the liquid, diluting it with water and applying it to their raised beds.

I'll be visiting regualrly to keep an eye on things and explain what is happening as the bin becomes more mature and eventually needs the bottom tray emptying.

Next, to try and persuade them to use Bokashi for their cooked kitchen waste...