Installing a wormery at Liss Junior School

When Mr Burford retired from teaching in July, he bought two presents for the children at the school. One was a crab apple tree which was placed next to our orchard. The smell of the crab apple tree attracts the bees and, in turn, they pollinate the nearby orchard.

The second present Mr Burford bought the school was a wormery. Today, children from Rowan Class (with the help of Mrs Stokes) built the wormery and began filling it with food waste which can be turned into compost.

In assembly this morning, Mr Stanley explained to the school how worms were very important to creating usable compost. He explained that there are 26 British species of earthworm that are of a variety of sizes, the largest is 30cm and the smallest is around 6cm long, and they range in colours from a dark red to pale a yellow/green. The different types of earthworm are not easy to tell apart – identifying them requires a magnifying glass, an eye for detail and a lot of patience! However, one group ‘the litter dwellers’ are the most distinctive, living either in the leaf litter, at the soil surface or within compost heaps; they have dark red or brown colouring and in the case of the Tiger worm a set of dapper stripes.

The Tiger worms play their part at the very start of the recycling process consuming dead plant material when it first lands on the soil surface. They process it by eating it and recharge the soil with nutrients and minerals. The worm ‘casts’ – the small piles of processed soil or worm manure – are especially rich in the mineral calcium, which is needed by plants to absorb nitrogen – essential in helping them to grow. Earthworms also break up and aerate the soil like mini-ploughs, improving the texture of the soil which also helps produce healthy plants.

Charles Darwin recognised the  importance of earthworms and spent a large amount of time studying and understanding them, eventually writing his last book ‘The formation of vegetable mould, through the action of worms, with observations on their habits’. The research methods he utilised ranged from the very standard to the more unusual, for example he played a number of musical instruments, while assessing their reaction, and eventually he concluded that they are deaf!

Tiger worms also assist in living more environmentally friendly lifestyles, as they are one of the main worms used in wormeries. They allow us to process our kitchen and garden waste breaking it down and eventually creating rich compost for gardens, allotments and window boxes.

The children built the wormery and filled it with the Tiger worms (they have been living in plastic bags), strips of newspaper and bedding. As the worms mature, we will be able to add more and more food waste. In time, the worms will produce lots of fantastic compost that we can use to help grow vegetables.

We’d like to thank Mrs Stokes for assisting the children this afternoon. Most of all, we’d like to thank Mr Burford for his generosity in giving the wormery to the school and enabling us to produce fantastic compost.

We’d like to ask our friends in Kafuro if they use worms to recycle waste matter in Uganda.

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2 Responses to Installing a wormery at Liss Junior School

  1. Mr B says:

    Great to see that the wormery has been set up.

  2. Heather Green says:

    Gilbert White was also a key Pioneering Naturalist in the discovery that worms were not actually ‘pests’ that they were perceived to be, but actually fundamental in the make up of the soil and the growth of plants.

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