“ Brand: Just Green „
The first house I got with a garden, was (un)lucky enough to come with one of those free large black pyramid compost bins the council had given out free. Well as a very eco person I got to work throwing in all sorts of waste. However due to its size (large) compared to my garden (small) and the inability to remove the lid easily without hoisting the damn thing into the air and thus all waste tumbling out the bottom before it had "composted" led me to look for something else.
The Can-o-worms had a great look to it, could stand neatly on the patio and no more awkward lid lifting so I purchased mine from Wiggly Wigglers (excellent shop if you haven't already visited!) and it arrived swiftly.
I came with three plastic (half-cut) legs, a lid with air holes and lift handles, three sections with holes in the bottom and a base section complete with "worm island" in the centre and a drainage tap. Along with this (since I ordered the "kit") I also received a large bag of 1000 compost worms, worm treats, anti-lime pellets and a "moisture mat".
Construction of the kit is easy enough, the legs slot simply into the base and then each of the sections sit within the other, leaving a gap for waste and compost to fit. The lid then tops it off nicely to keep everything enclosed.
The holes in the sections are designed so the worms can move between the sections. The compost is produced in the lower trays and then the worms move up to the ones above as you start to add waste there. Also, these allow the "worm cast" (a liquid) to drain through to the base.
The instructions it came with were clear on how to get the worms settled into their new home. Believe me I was squeamish with worms at the beginning, barely able to look at them writhing but within months I was able to pick them up by hand if any had decided to make a dash for freedom!
Like any compost bin, the can-o-worms will only thrive if you add the correct ingredients and take some time to help it develop. So do not think this is a kit that makes the amateur an immediate expert. Take the time to help get this "mini eco-system" running. While the instructions do cover some of this, it is a good idea to read up more to get the best out of the wormery. Don't be fooled into buying a book on the subject that is sometimes offered as an added to the wormery - the net will have enough information for you.
You can purchase just the can-o-worms compost bin as a stand-alone however I recommend getting it as a kit that includes the worms and all the accessories that are necessary, remember a worm compost uses composting worms (red worms, tiger worms etc) not earthworms! Getting the kit is more cost effective and allows for quicker and easier set up than having to buy each piece individually as you realise you need them.
This is a great kit and I found the accessories such as the moisture mat which is the worms' bedding and first real meal to be very useful, along with the anti-lime pellets that last a good long while. Not only does this help to produce compost in a clearer, more efficient way than a typical compost bin but is a great source of learning for children who get to watch an eco-system at work.
I do however feel the need to point out that they are not good for large garden waste - if you have a big lawn you would not be able to put all your grass cuttings in etc. The Can-o-worms is great for small gardens or as an addition to a normal compost bin. So that the wormery can take mostly food waste with a mix of some green and brown garden waste and the larger items can go into a normal compost bin.
The tap underneath allows for the liquid to be drained off, which can then be used as an incredible liquid plant food (when diluted). The tap is easy enough though can get a little stiff due to the weather.
While the plastic is strong and durable it is not frost-proof and due to the worms not being underground if the can-o-worms is not wrapped (such as in bubble wrap) during the winter frost, the worms can all perish. This was not mentioned in any of the instructions so be aware especially if you are setting your can-o-worms up later in the year when they will not have produced as much compost yet.
Some extra points
In the base is the "worm island", a cone of plastic that is supposed to allow worms who have fallen into the liquid to climb out. I am not really sure this works as whenever I drain the worm cast there are always a number of worms falling in. At the moment I am catching them in a sieve so as to return them to the wormery rather than letting them drown.
I think an amendment to the wormery would be a finer mesh just above the base so the liquid can drain through but the worms don't fall in. Until this is created be aware you may either lose worms unless you can become inventive with methods of keeping them from drowning and thus ending up in your bottles of liquid worm cast.
The more sections you have the heavier the can-o-worms gets and the sections can be harder to remove, a little of strength and some twisting can release them and allow you to reach the lower sections where the compost is. However I did not think the legs feel that sturdy when the wormery is pretty full and the twisting I mentioned above can cause the legs to buckle a little if you are not careful.
You can purchase extra legs that turn these "half-cut" legs into full legs. I am not sure why they didn't just supply the kits with fully round legs to offer greater support.
While the kit does come with many good items, there is another that does not appear to be included but should be purchased - the Worm cap that is a plastic hood that covers the lid. This is particularly important if you live in wet areas.
Overall a great product and highly recommended for those who want to reduce their waste and make their own compost. This is such a good product that I even have two and both have been with me for years and due to their style makes them easy to transport to another location. They are simple to construct and usually come with easy instructions on how to get started.
I cannot recommend Wiggly Wigglers highly enough. The Can-O-Worms that they provided was excellent and the worms all alive and well and they got straight into eating my vegetable peelings.
It is really easy to use because there are various trays that you stack on top of each other. You start with the worms in the bottom one and once they have eaten everything and created compost, you start putting your vegetable peelings into the next tray up and teh worms make their way up their to find new food. You can then use the compost that they have left in the lower tray.
I bought a Can-O-Worms and a value pack that provided a worm treat bag of pellets that you give them once a fortnight, as a treat, to keep them in tip top condition. There is also a lime mix to reduce the acidity in the wormery, as worms do not like acid. On that point, avoid citrus and onions.
Worms breed to fit their surroundings so providing you feed them lots of delicious rotting vegetable matter and keep them not too warm and not too cold and not too dry and not too wet, you will soon have thousands of them churning through all the waste and producing lots of healthy compost and liquid feed for your plants.
At about £90 for the wormery, worms, lime mix and worm treat food, it is expensive but so much less work than a traditional wormery, where you have to remove the worms and contents to get to the compost.
I love my worms!
As most of you probably know I can't bear to throw anything away that might prove useful to someone else and it is to this end that I recycle as much as I can - glass, cardboard, papers etc. At our new home here in Llandudno we have a courtyard garden with raised flower beds so there isn't a suitable place for a compost heap, so I bought a cheap dustbin and threw the kitchen waste in that to make some compost. Yes, I know now!!!! The result was a vile smelling, revolting, soggy wet mess. I did put it in the bottom of the planters that I used for my runner beans and it did them a power of good but, even though I wore thick gardening gloves, my hands smelled horrible for days afterwards, no matter how often I washed them! I needed a better way of composting - enter the wormery! I had heard of wormeries, but had never actually used one or even seen one in operation, but I first saw one in the RSPB gift book. It was called a Can O Worms and looked interesting to say the least, but it was also very expensive. My next move was to investigate on the Internet where I found the site called www.wigglywigglers.co.uk and they would provide the Can O Worms for £80 with free 48-hour delivery. Sadly that was the cheapest price I could find, but hey, I only need to buy it once don't I? Then I get free compost forever! I will just point out that the current price is now £89. The wormery itself when fully constructed stands 73cm high and is 50cm in diameter. It is round in shape and stands on three legs. It is made up of the base unit, into which you slot the legs, which catches any excess liquid that comes from the wormery and has a tap on the side so that it can be drained into a watering can. It can then be mixed one part liquid to 10 parts water for feeding your plants. The next three levels are all flat round trays, each about 5" deep, where the worms work. The final piece is the li
d complete with air holes for ventilation. The wormery comes supplied with all the parts as described above, a moisture mat, a coir block and the worms. If you don't want the live worms to be sent with the wormery you can opt to have a voucher and collect them from the supplier yourself. We had our worms delivered with the wormery. They arrive securely packed in a special bag, so don't have visions of rounding them up as they try to escape! Our first step was to get a bucket of tepid water and soak the coir block. This made it expand to form the bedding into which we would put our worms to get them acclimatised to their new home. Meanwhile Dave put the legs onto the bottom unit for me making sure they were secure so that the wormery wouldn't topple over. Once the base unit was constructed the first level was then placed on top. I put the bulked up coir into the tray and added the worms. It is advisable to leave the lid off for a little while as the worms will move away from the light and so will burrow down into their bedding. We stayed around whilst this was happening as we have a lot of gulls here, being by the sea, and they may have thought we were providing them with a light snack! I then put the moisture mat on top and put the lid on. We had to leave them for a couple of days to get used to the new surroundings and then we could begin to add kitchen waste for them to eat. Once that level was full, I added the next level, moved the moisture mat to the top and began to fill level two. Then finally added level three in the same way. It took about three months to get to this stage, as the amount of kitchen waste to the amount of compost is roughly 8:1. So eight buckets of kitchen waste would turn into one bucket of compost. I have had my wormery since about August and it is now November and I have only just taken out my first tray of lovely, environmentally friendly compost. <
br>The basic idea of the wormery when it is fully operational is that the bottom layer will be almost ready to put onto the garden, the middle layer will be half eaten and the top layer will be new waste being added all the time. When the bottom layer is ready, it is removed; the compost used to either top dress or dig into the garden and is then replaced, empty, on the top of the wormery for the next lot of kitchen waste. The worms work in the bottom layer until they have eaten everything, then they migrate up into the next layer through the holes in the bottom of the tray above. They eat the kitchen waste and compost comes out of the other end, not wishing to be too blunt about it! The compost that the worms produce is a beautiful rich, dark brown colour and looks as good as any compost that you could buy at the local garden centre. Of course it isn't as good - it's much better! The other BIG advantage is that it doesn't smell! You could even keep a wormery in the house if you had a suitable corner for it. The worms that are supplied by Wiggly Wigglers are 'dendras' (Dendrabaena veneta) and 'reds' (Eisenia andreii). These are best sort for composting and will happily work their way through kitchen and garden waste. The food supply for the worms can be virtually anything that has lived and died, except for meat, and they don't like onions or citrus fruits as it makes the mixture too acidic for them to work properly. So really that means any kitchen waste - peelings, tea bags, egg shells (which also help to keep down the acidity level), coffee grounds etc, and some garden waste although you mustn't put in anything too woody and obviously don't over fill the wormery! The other thing to remember is to put 40% of the volume of the kitchen waste in as paper or cardboard otherwise the mixture will be too wet and will encourage fruit flies to breed. These don't cause any
harm but can be a bit of a nuisance when you open the top of the wormery for feeding and they fly out. The package from Wiggly Wigglers comes complete with a bag of worm treat to encourage then feed and a bag of lime mix to prevent the mixture becoming too acidic. It is advisable to put a handful of each mix in every 10 days or so. The wormery must be kept out of the frost and sheltered from heavy rain or the mixture will get too wet, so I left mine outside until about October and have now got it in a corner of the garden shed. The worms won't die if they get too cold but they will slow down and that would never do! LOL! The worms don't sleep so they work 24 hours a day and they reproduce to provide the optimum number of worms to work in the amount of food available - clever eh? Well you can see that I am well pleased with my wormery and am rather enthusiastic about it - so I do apologise if I have gone on a bit in this opinion! It certainly makes for a good talking point when we have guests and I say I'm off to feed the worms!
I hate throwing anything away, even teabags and, as I have a garden, it seems sensible to make compost. This has never been quick or easy with a conventional compost heap so I was really keen when a friend offered me her wormery because she was having no luck with it. Hers was one of those that looks like a dustbin with a tap on it. Full description on this site but basically you put your worms and some compost (their bedding) in at the bottom and add kitchen waste. As you add the waste the worms feed and digest converting teabags and all into compost. As they do this they naturally move upwards into the new waste and liquid waste seeps into the reservoir at the bottom. This you drain off with the tap, dilute and use as a liquid feed on your tomatoes or whatever. These work OK but, and it's a big but, the compost you want to get at is at the bottom of the bin and the worms and the undigested stuff is at the top. This means turning the lot out, getting your compost, picking out stray worms and returning worms and gunge to bin. The Can-o-Worms brilliance is that it's in layers. You put worms (from supplier or get some free from a compost heap) and bedding in the bottom layer and then add kitchen waste putting a new layer on as the trays fill up. By the time the top layer is full the bottom layer is compost and worm free 'cos they've all moved up into the next layer. We've just got to the stage where we're about to use the compost on the first layer. The worms move up through tiny holes and into the next layer and start working on the material there. When you've emptied out your compost, you put the empty tray on the top and the cycle starts again. So far we've had none of the problems we had with the previous wormery (fly infestation, smelly waterlogged compost, dead worms) and none of the soul destroying bin emptying ritual. Another claim by the manufacturer is that these units aresuitable for
the squeamish since you don't see the worms when you put the waste in (they're all 'downstairs'). Wormeries aren't designed to deal with garden waste but this one will deal with all your kitchen waste (tea, coffee grounds, fruit and veg peelings, cores, etc.) You can also add loo roll inner tubes, shredded newspaper etc. so long as they're damp. The only kitchen waste the worms don't like is citrus and onion peel but I've found they're fine with it if you add plenty of crushed egg shells (I whizz them in a food processor after I've made pastry or breadcrumbs). The only disadvantage to the Can-o-worms, apart from the fact it's far from attractive, is the price. £60 seems a lot of money for some plastic trays on legs but the dustbin types are only about £10 cheaper and the Can-o-worms is soooo much better. The supplier's website tells you everything you want to know and goods are sent out by return.
The Can-O-Worms has been designed from the ground up as a superior wormery. Its innovative layered structure lets you see at a glance what the worms are doing and how they are getting on. Even better, it lets you harvest your worm casts more quickly and efficiently than ever before. Because you can see the normally hidden process of composting in action Can-O-Worms is ideal for first time composters and children.