1. Why have a Wormery?
Rather than wait six months for compost, the HotBox product and your kitchen waste can be processed much more rapidly, and a much more potent product made, using vermiculture [worm farming]. Composting worms are not earthworms - which, though very important in draining and aerating soil, have a very slow metabolism and so eat very little. Composting worms are the Litter Worms found in the leaf litter layer of our woodlands. These interesting animals will eat up to 50% of their body-weight per day, if the husbandry is right, generating ... no smell ... no flies... just a potent, mineral enriched, plant tonic which in the States sells for US$30,000 per tonne!
2. Why do you favour wooden wormeries instead of the usual plastic ones?
These litter worms live just under the soil surface and so a wormery should have a large surface area and a small depth. Thus a box is a better shape than a bin. One of our doorstep wormeries might contain >1000 worms. Looking after these very special pets is an interesting hobby ... and processing our own waste in exactly the same way that has kept our forests fertile for thousands of years, is the way to get our suffering planet back in balance. There is an extraordinary amount of biological activity in a worm bed and so some heat and humidity are produced. There tends to be some condensation forms on the inside of plastic wormeries. This runs down and can flood the wormbed [which should be only slightly moist - never wet]. No moisture should come from a well kept wormery.
3. I thought the tap on a wormery was to produce "wormtea" - a powerful fertiliser?
This is not good practice. If the wormcast in the lower layers of your wormery is wet, it will become sour [anaerobic] and smelly.
Wormcast contains millions of beneficial soil microbes as well as many plant nutrients. To get the most benefit from your wormcast, put a little in a muslin sock and suspend it in your watering can overnight. When you water your plants the following day, they will not just be foliar fed with nutrients in addition, the microbes in your homebrew "worm tea" will knock out any leaf pathogens on your plants, for example, rusts and mildews.
4. How will I know if I am over-feeding my worms?
The vast majority of wormeries are grossly underfed ... and if you do not feed your workers, they will wander off and find food elsewhere. People see bits of cabbage stalk, sprouts leaves and potato peelings and think there is lots of food there. They forget that worms do not have teeth. They can only eat soft material and so, at low temperatures, it might be several weeks before these stalks and peelings are available to the worms. So keep inserting lots of scraps or, if you want to maximise your wormcast production, put the scraps into your blender for 10 seconds. That really speeds things up. If you have over-fed one area of your wormbed, you will find a mass of the little white Enchytriad worms. It can be immediately sorted by just loosening up that bedding and mixing in some torn up cardboard to soak up any excess moisture.
5. Why keep adding basaltic rockdust to my wormery?
Throughout the winter, we should remember to regularly sprinkle a hand-full of the basaltic Rockdust across our wormbed for two reasons. Firstly, since they do not have teeth, our workers need the grit in their gizzards to grind up their food and help their digestion. Secondly, increasingly there are indications that there is a shortage of certain trace elements in the food chain e.g. selenium which counters cancer and molybdenum which improves our metabolism. It is thought that as the basaltic rockdust passes through the worms the action of their intestinal bacteria is responsible for the production of mineral enriched wormcast. Certainly, growing food with this wormcast does produce exceptional plant vigour [quantity and flavour]. Healthy crops give healthy families!