Compost at Home
A wormery or worm bin is basically a home composting system with worms.
Composting worms (red worms, red wrigglers or eisenia foetida and other species) are added to the compost bin to speed up the process and make it more space efficient, with less smells and pest problems. It can compost a wider variety of foods than an open compost heap, and also takes a limited amount of waste cardboard, paper napkins, tissues etc. So if you have ever wondered how to compost at home but you don't have space for a large compost bin, a wormery is the right choice.
A worm bin will also reduce your waste to a much smaller volume than traditional composting, so you are not constantly having to empty it. Unlike your trash can, which needs to be emptied once a week, your wormery can sit there for months with very little care. The liquid that comes out the bottom (most of your food waste is made up of water) can be used (diluted) in the garden, or poured down the drain where it will help get rid of blockages and bad smells.
Free Organic Compost
With time, your wormery will produce vermicompost, a rich natural fertiliser and soil conditioner which you can use to treat your garden. Vermicompost is valued by experienced gardeners so if you don't have a garden, or even a few pot plants to boost with your free compost, friends and neighbour will happily accept gifts of it! It can also be used to make a compost tea (worm tea) which numerous recent studies have shown to be of great benefit in the garden and greenhouse.
Choose your Wormery
Any adequately sized container will function as a worm bin without having to buy a wormery. It needs to hold the worms securely, have adequate drainage and ventilation, be pest proof, and easy to manipulate. But for the beginner, with a small space, and who may have to have live at close quarters with his or her composting worms, buying a commercially produced wormery is the best option. There are many different designs and brand-names, but they fall into two essential groups: layered worm systems and single chambered wormeries
A layered model is simply a number of vertically stacked chambers, with the top layer being 'active' or the layer you add food waste to, and the lower chambers being where the vermicompost matures.
The advantage of this type of system is that you can easily remove the bottom layer to harvest your valuable free organic compost.
In a single chambered worm bin (which is usually cheaper), the same process will apply- you feed from the top and the compost matures at the bottom, but you need to scrape aside the active layer to harvest compost. I have worked with both, and I still haven't decided which is best!
I have also made some wormeries myself, and my diy wormeries have often outperformed the commercial ones, even if they were a little messier.
One word of warning: you can get addicted to worm farming, and soon your wormery may be a full-blown new hobby or even obsession rather than an easy and environmental waste disposal system. Especially if you are a gardener and you see the good vermicompost does in your garden!