I first read about wormeries and vermiculture a couple of months ago. I thought that with the tons of leaves the huge camphor tree in our garden sheds, a wormery would be a great way to generate a steady supply of organic fertilizer for the veggie patch and the rest of the garden. The "off the shelf" (or more accurately "off the web") ones were pretty expensive, starting at around R600 excluding worms for a smallish bin. Unfortunately the designs I found on the web were all for tyre-based systems and I wasn't too keen on big ugly tyres in my garden.
Luckily, a few weeks later I came across Piet Strydom's instructions for a large, neat, fairly inexpensive DIY wormery made of plastic meat trays. I finally found the meat trays last week and built the wormery, populating it with a bag of worms and bedding bought from Piet himself. I now have a functioning wormery (granted, it's just getting settled at this stage) and I thought I'd share the step-by step.
- Three plastic meat trays (got mine from Macro).
- A plastic tap and nut.
- Silicone sealant.
- Enough shade-netting to cover one tray and a means to attach it (I used small nuts and bolts).
- A wooden board or plastic lid large enough to cover one tray.
- Bungi chords to hold the lid down.
- A drill.
The bottom-most tray needs a tap to drain off the worm tea. Drill a hole large enough to accommodate the tap, and insert the tap. Attach the nut for it and seal on both sides with silicone to prevent leakage.
To prevent any stray worms falling into the tea (wouldn't want the little buggers to drown) the bottom most tray needs to be covered with shade-netting. Simply cut the netting to size and attach it. In my case I drilled holes in the side of the tray and attached the netting with small nuts and bolts.
Fluid needs to move easily through the system, eventually ending up in the bottom tray. The worms also need to be able to move up from the middle tray as their food is exhausted, up to the top tray. For these reasons holes need to be drilled in the bottoms of the middle and top trays. I drilled fairly large holes, I saw on Piet's wormeries that he used smaller holes but many more of them. I'm sure either approach should work fine.
What would a wormery be without worms? I got mine from Piet (contact him through his website), but there are numerous other providers in the country-Wizzard Worms is one popular supplier in the Cape. I added a few sheets of newspaper first, dampened them and added the worms and bedding on top of that. Since then we've added some kitchen waste as well. This all goes in the middle tray.
Finally, it's time to put it all together. Stack the trays on top of each other (tap at the bottom, worms in the middle, empty tray on top) and cover the top tray with a lid. Not visible in this shot are the bungi chords I use to keep the lid on tightly. The whole system should be place in the shade.
And that's all there is to it, around R300 (excluding worms) and an hour's work for a large wormery.