potato peelings chopped cabbage perfect for worms
potato peelings and chopped outer leaves of cabbage are perfect for worms

What do you do with surplus vegetable matter once the compost heap is full to overflowing, and with meat scraps when your chickens have had their fill? Start a wormery with the veg and running-to-seed lettuce, peelings etc, and pickle meat, fish scraps and cooked veg (plate scrapings or left-overs) in a bokashi bin. The resulting compost mixtures produced by both will greatly benefit the garden, as a soil-enricher, and are perfect when growing plants in pots. And wormeries and bokashi bins do not consume much space – unless of course you go in for them in a big way.

setting up a wormery
Setting up my wormery – the first layer (please note, this is a different model to the one supplied by Dobies).

Let’s first look at wormeries and how they work. Worms are scavengers, chewing and digesting vegetable matter, composting it inside themselves, converting waste into usable ‘compost’ and a rich liquid feed. You can make your own but it is far easier to purchase a system – either a cheaper single bin or the deluxe (and much easier to use) tiered version. Having used both, go for the latter if at all possible, with either three or four tiers.

adding worms to the wormery
Adding the worms – feed them well and they soon multiply.

Whichever system you choose, each kit comes complete with all you need to start, including tiger (brandling) worms. These are the little red ones you’ll find at the bottom of any compost heap. Add soft leafy material, tea leaves, eggshells, torn up cardboard-cores from toilet rolls but nothing woody and no meat, fat, fish or dairy products.

worms gradually eating through food waste
All set and ready to go. The worms gradually chomp through the vegetable waste. I keep my wormery in an open outhouse; the worms survived last winter’s extreme cold (-9 degrees C for weeks on end) as I covered the bins with an old blanket at night.
2 bokashi bins
My bokashi bins have proved a blessing in disguise.

And so to the Bokashi system of ‘digesting’ waste from the kitchen, cooked and uncooked. I am in no way a scientific gardener, but the concept behind bokashi (efficient microbes) seemed so simple and just what I needed when I was chicken-less a couple of years back. What the chickens had previously cleared up, now went into the bin, each layer interspersed with bokashi. Effectively, this pickled the food waste – no smell, no flies, no resorting to landfill.

bokashi bin working its magic
This may look as if nothing has happened, but it has! Perfect in the runner bean trench, too.

Two bins are better than one, for you need to allow some time for the pickling process to take place, and even then I was surprised by the result – it doesn’t compost at all. I buried my first results at the bottom of large plant pots in which I grew courgettes, and this last year as the lower layer when starting my four raised beds. Plants thrived, and I would not be without them now, even though I have chickens again.

snail droppings can be used to enrich potting composts
Bizarre as it might seem, snail droppings can be used to enrich potting composts – I’d rather put them to good use than have them seeking out my young plants. Thrushes (and my ducks) used to keep is snail-free, but ducks are a thing of the past and thrushes are sadly in decline.

Next, I’m going to try a ‘snailery’ – not to eat! – but another way of producing compost. Is anyone interested in joining me online to report progress? Maybe through Dobies Facebook? Indeed, maybe we should do that with our wormeries and bokashi bins.

2 thought on “Wormeries and Bokashi Bins”
  1. I used to add the snails to the compost bin. Since it was mainly kitchen waste that went in it they seemed to survive quite happily there.

  2. I’ll try that; thanks for the suggestion. (And I look forward to reading your blog – have just signed myself in – will it be in gardening, or other topics? I love to know what Dobies readers like to do.)

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