Let's talk of worms... - Mucknell Abbey
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Mucknell Abbey

Let’s talk of worms…

Worms have had a very bad press in the Christian faith as a symbol of death, decay and judgement. But looked at in a different light they’re a source of new life.


Compost worm

Sr Alison and Alongsider Jessica have been busy constructing a wormery as an experiment in producing compost for our kitchen garden. Sr Alison explains more:

“We have had a few problems with unwanted visitors to our compost heaps, namely rats.  We have decided to experiment with putting our kitchen waste (vegetable peelings, not cooked food) into a wormery to compost.  Because the worms are in their own container, we are hoping that the unwanted rodents will not be able to find so much to eat and will go foraging elsewhere. We didn’t want to spend lots of money buying a commercially available wormery at this stage, in case we find that it is not a good system of waste disposal for us.  So we decided to make one out of bits and bobs that we already have”


Making the Wormery

wormery instructions

First things first: find some instructions. You can find a lot of information about this online by Google-ing ‘vermiculture’. Sr Alison takes us through the process of making it…



First, we raided Sr Alison’s cell for 3 empty plastic storage boxes she no longer needs because, having made final vows last summer and given away all her wordly goods, she has nothing to store any more.  Then we drilled small holes all around the top of the sides and larger holes in the base of 2 boxes


Off to the garden shed to scavenge for a spare tap for a garden water butt.  This was fitted to the box without the large holes in its base.  It is to let out the liquid from the wormery which is a great plant food, apparently! We screwed 3 odd pieces of wood and covered them in a double layer of thick black plastic to make a waterproof lid.

wormery tap


We were then ready to assemble the first 2 layers of the wormery in a shady corner of the kitchen garden – tap-box, 4 half bricks, hole-y-box.  Torn-up up newspaper was soaked in a bucket, gently wrung out and “fluffed up” to make a layer of worm bedding in the bottom of the uppermost box.  A local wormery sold us, (literally!) a can of worms and we have spread them and their compost over the newspaper.

wormery beddingbucket of worms


Add vegetable waste, a layer of moist corrugated card to help keep it nice and dark, pop on the lid and wait. Eventually the worms make so much compost that the third hole-y-box needs to be placed on top with some enticing fresh bedding and more veg so that the worms all migrate into the upper box, leaving the lower box, full of lovely worm-made compost. This will then be removed and the contents spread around our vegetable garden.

Worms in situFinished wormery


Happy worms, happy vegetables and happy monks and nuns!