COMPOSTING and wormeries

Despite our best efforts at cooking meals that encourage children to clean their plates, we inevitably produce waste – both in the preparation of meals and with leftovers.

In order to grow vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs in the garden with the children we need some compost to mix with the soil. Compost is made by rotting down vegetable/compostable matter with earth microbes. We can’t compost all the food we waste unless we are vegan, because putting dairy, meat products or cooked sauces in with the composting is a sure way to attract vermin and to produce an unpleasant smell – both of which produce hazards from which we need to protect the children. So, we have two types of food waste, that which can be composted, and that which cannot.

It’s useful to put a list up near your compost bins at work, like the example below:

Courtesy of West Brunswick Community Garden


Wormeries are basically compost heaps with worms that you put in specially.

There are about three types of native worm suitable for a wormery but the best, according to the Wormery website and the Eden Project, is Eisenia Fetida – the Tiger worm, aka the Brandling worm. It simply thrives on organic waste, quickly processing it into nutrient rich compost.

It’s no good using normal garden worms – they’re just not the right type!

Worms are not keen on onion skins or citrus, harsh spices or oily foods but they do love cardboard, newspaper and wood chip, and even a bit of pasta (not pasta with tuna or cheese in it though!)

You won’t get through large quantities of vegetables with your wormery, particularly in winter.

Some purchased wormeries have separate boxes and a tap at the bottom to collect the liquid compost, which is a highly nutritious liquid plant food.

You will need to ensure your wormery has a way for rainwater to filter through it – you don’t want your worms to drown!

Wormeries with a transparent side are perfect for the children can see what is happening so they can watch the whole process.

Bear in mind that wormeries are slow to start up initially because worms can’t eat the nice fresh stuff – not even tiger worms have teeth! – so you need to allow a few weeks of microbial decomposition before they can ingest the waste.