There are 27 species of worms in the UK and over 2000 worldwide so it's important to get the right worm for the job. The most common earthworm in our soil is Lumbricus Terrestris and he is particularly good at deep burrowing and turns lots of decaying matter (like leaves and grass clippings) into worm casts which are fantastic for soil fertility. However he is not suitable for your worm composter. The worms you need for this purpose are the ones that love to live in the decaying organic matter, you might find them naturally on the forest floor just below the surface or in a manure heap. These species include Eisenia foetida, E. andreii and Dendrabaena veneta. They are smaller and darker and redder than the common earthworm and are faster at breeding and can eat up to half their own body weight in waste everyday.
A wormery is pretty easy to establish and will reward you with worm tea ‚Äì a fabulous liquid feed and worm casts - a really rich compost and fertiliser. A few points need to be considered to get the conditions right for your worms to survive and thrive.
- Worms are most active in warm moist conditions, ideally between 18-25C (64-77F) They don't like being waterlogged as this restricts their air supply (they breathe through their skins.
- Their activity noticeably declines below 10C (50F) and above 30C (86F) They will still eat but they don't breed as quickly in these conditions.
- A wormery sheltered area of the garden where it gets neither too cold in the winter nor too hot in the summer or inside a shed or similar.
- Although possible avoid housing your wormery in the kitchen or utility room as they are live creatures and particularly good at escaping at times and if you neglect your worm composting kit from time to time it can sometimes produce odours.
- Composting worms prefer a pH of between 6.5-7.0, and well-ventilated conditions to live in so avoid extreme acidity (from adding large quantities of citrus fruit or similar)