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How to make worm compost
by Frann Leach
You can make nutritious compost for your garden from kitchen waste - including things you can't put on your compost heap. Worm compost is easy to make at home, even if you don't have a worm compost maker.
- Bore some ventilation holes into the close-fitting lid of a plastic dustbin (trashcan) and some drainage holes in the bottom 15cm (6"). Fill the bottom 15cm (6") of the bin with a mix of pebbles and sand, then add water until it seeps out of the drainage holes, to provide humidity. Stand the bin in a drip tray. The liquid which collects as the compost is produced can be used as liquid manure.
- Place wooden slats on top of the sand and stones, so that when you fork out the manure you don’t disturb the bottom layer of sand. Add about 2 bucketfuls of peat, peat and well-rotted manure or spent mushroom compost and about 100 Eisenia foetida worms ("brandlings" from the bait shop), then the first load of well chopped household waste with a few sheets of moist shredded newspaper as a starter. This layer should be about 10-15cm (4-6") deep and should be sprinkled with about a yoghurt carton full of calcified seaweed or limestone and a light covering of moistened peat. The material used should be moist, but not wringing wet.
- About 2 or 3 weeks later, the first dose of protein rich waste should be added. All organic waste and kitchen leftovers are suitable except those which have been soaked in vinegar or animal fat. As heat plays no part in the process, do not include weed seeds or roots. Sprinkle every 15cm (6") layer with calcified seaweed and peat.
- The manure production process takes up to 6 months from starting, a little quicker in the summer. In the winter, the bin should be moved into a shed or garage and wrapped with a length of old carpet or similar material to provide insulation.
- The manure is ready when it has turned dark and spongy like friable soil. The contents of the bin can be forked into an open-ended sack for storage. Use a little in the starter compost for the next colony and so on indefinitely. When dry, the worm compost can be sieved and handled like a concentrated manure.