Readers respond to Adrian Chiles’s report of his struggle to create compost from his organic waste using a wormery

Diet of worms has to be right for compost success | Letters | Life and style
‘For years now, my wriggly little friends have been providing me with small amounts of compost and, more usefully, enough of a miraculously effective liquid plant feed,’ writes Chris McConway. Photograph: Alamy

Along with, no doubt, many other vermophiles, I’d like to reassure Adrian Chiles that wormeries do work and that his worms will handsomely reward his efforts if he persists (The worm has turned – but where’s my compost?, G2, 12 September). Having decided that a wormery would be a good way of recycling vegetable matter in my small back yard, I too had a catastrophic false start, involving some drowned worms and the wrong sort of smelly decomposition, but with the help of a new batch of worms, I discovered the importance of incorporating dry material into the worms’ diet.

Torn-up egg boxes are particularly good, and I don’t need a shredder to dispose of details from bank statements when my worms are hungry. For years now, my wriggly little friends have been providing me with small amounts of compost and, more usefully, enough of a miraculously effective liquid plant feed to provide a copious supply to me and all my gardening friends. What’s more, whatever I feed to my worms isn’t going to landfill. Hang in there, Adrian. Be good to your worms, and they’ll be good to you.
Chris McConway
Newcastle upon Tyne

I love Adrian Chiles’s column, but I have to tell him that wormeries absolutely do work if you wait long enough and get the balance of cardboard/dry stuff versus wet kitchen scraps right. I’ve had a plastic three-tier bin, with lid (don’t let the rain in either) for over 15 years from a company called Wiggly Wigglers. To keep the flies down they supply a calcium carbonate mix that the worms like and the flies don’t. You also need to wait several months for the compost to be ready. Don’t stir it – the worms will find their way if there are holes from one tray to the next and you keep the light out. Water needs to drain away from the bottom (which can also be used as plant feed).

Adrian needs to save more of those Amazon cardboard boxes to rip up and put in as well!
Jan Miller
Whitford, Flintshire

We’ve had the same wormery for over 10 years, giving us an endless supply of fantastic compost. They do take some figuring out (we had a few false starts), but once you’ve got the hang of it they are fantastically easy to maintain and well worth the initial time and energy spent. And our kids enjoy having worms as “pets”; we even took some worms into the class for “show and tell”.

So, Adrian, please try again and get some advice from the many fab websites and organisations to work out what went wrong with the first two attempts. Good luck!
Saskia Restorick

It’s not a cruel fantasy, Adrian! We have had a successful wormery for about 10 years, regularly producing excellent compost and “worm tea” fertiliser from our fruit and veg waste. (It’s vital to drain this off regularly.) It took a little while to establish and the worms go a bit quiet in the winter when it’s cold or when we go away but otherwise it chugs on very happily.
Mary Burston
Malvern, Worcestershire

Adrian Chiles would like to see one example of a wormery actually working. I can do better than that. I have three; two in the back garden and one at my allotment. Mr Chiles is welcome to come and inspect them.
Ruth Rhoden
Low Habberley, Worcestershire

Cleopatra will be turning in her grave. She declared the earthworm to be sacred and the act of removing one from the soil punishable by death (Farming alert over impact of microplastics on earthworms, 12 September). Darwin doubted whether any other animal played such an important role in the history of the world. And Roosevelt declared that a nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.

As noted at the Andrew Raven Trust’s recent conference titled Soil Matters, one UN report estimates that such is the poor state of the soil, there are possibly only 70 harvests left in it.

A barometer of our times, the earthworm should surely be hitting the headlines.
Fiona Carnie
Andrew Raven Trust

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