Sunday, October 15, 2017

Unboxing Wiggly Wiggler's new Urbalive Wormery

Back in 1996, or thereabouts, I bought my first wormery as I wanted a neat way of composting our food waste and producing amazing compost of such quality that I truly think it is more of a fertiliser than a compost.  Moving on 20 years I have owned and tried a number of different wormeries, some which have worked well (the one from 1996 is still going strong) and some not so well.

So when Heather, from Wiggly Wigglers (the company that built itself around composting with worms but has now branched out into growing and selling their own bird food mixes and the absolutely brilliant Great British Florist supplying flower arrangements made wholly from British flowers) asked me if I would trial a new wormery they want to sell I jumped at the chance.

The Wiggly Wigglers Urbalive worm composter arrived a few days later and I set about assembling it.

Unboxing it I noticed that it is very different to my usual black plastic outdoor wormeries such as my Can-o-worms, Worm Cafe and Worm City; it has a very modern looking design with rounded corners and real wooden legs.

The mesh bottom is a great addition as it will stop the worms from getting into the sump, something that comes up a lot in support questions. The small trowel is also a nice touch (but ignore the screwdriver as that is not part of the kit!).

The legs slot into the holes at the bottom and can be screwed in place.  They are very sturdy and will solve the problem of the flimsy black legs of a heavy and full can-o-worms bending and occasionally snapping when being moved.  Also of note is that that there is no entry into the wormery from the legs, something that will please anybody who has had the fun/challenge of trying to deter ants from stealing the worm cocoons from a can-o-worms.

The tap is easily fitted, with a decent handle so should also last longer than that of the can-o-worms which could be very hard to use once the handle wears and snaps off (as it has on two of mine).

Once the legs and tap have been fitted the mesh can be placed in the sump and sits very firmly. Time will tell how well this lasts and performs but I think it is a great idea and will save a lot of worms from heading down to the sump and drowning (another support question that comes up time and time again with other wormeries). 

You can see from the picture with the first tray added that the holes are a good size to allow free movement of the worms between the layers, and also for allowing 'worm tea' (leachate) to flow into the sump where it can be harvested and used as a fantastic organic plant food (when watered down at a ratio of 10.1).

To start the wormery off Wiggly Wigglers supply a coir block, which is basically a compressed brick of coconut fibres that makes a good starter bedding for your new wormery.  The brick needs soaking in a bucket of water and it never ceases to amaze me just how much water these things can soak up!

Once ready add the coir to the bottom tray and spread it around to evenly cover the bottom using the supplied trowel.  Make sure it isn't too dry but don't worry about how wet it is as the liquid will drain into the sump.

And now for the worms! Spread them evenly on the surface and leave the wormery for a while in the light.  Worms hate the light and will burrow down into the coir to escape it.

Once they have all but disappeared you can add a SMALL amount of food waste. It is REALLY important not to add too much at this stage as they have plenty of coir to much through and will take time to get themselves established.

And then you can either cut a piece of corrugated cardboard (Amazon box type cardboard) to fit the tray or cover in shredded paper like in the picture.  This helps keep out the light (worms work best in the dark) as well as soaking up excess moisture.  I really cannot stress how important shredded paper is in a wormery - not only does it help keep them in the dark and soak up moisture but the worms love the stuff and helps them produce a more balanced vermicompost.

And that's it! All setup and raring to go.

So there you have it, a very nicely designed composter that will work as well inside as it will outside.  And with it's solid and lid that fits snugly there should be no escapees as can happen when a can-o-worms is brought inside for the winter.  For the first time in 20 years I can see this thing living in the kitchen (I admit I haven't yet made that suggestion to my wife) rather than getting holed up in the greenhouse over winter.

Now for the difficult part though - it will take the worms a while to get established so they need to be left alone for a couple of weeks, after which you can start feeding them more of your waste food scraps.

So, after a few weeks check them by carefully digging down to see how well they are working the waste.  If there is no waste 2-3 inches below the surface then feel free to add some more - try not to over feed as they won't keep up, the waste will start to rot (raising the pH) and you could easily end up with a foul smelling mess and a lot of dead worms.  Wiggly Wigglers supply a bag of worm treat and lime mix with the kit so add a handful of the these every now and then to keep the pH down and your worms happy.  In about 6 months you should be rewarded with a tray of 'black gold' ready for your vegetable garden, top- dressing house plants or mixing in with potting compost to give your plants a great boost.

Urbalive is the new face of Worm Composting – Exclusively in the UK from Wiggly Wigglers. Order yours today at