What did the worms ever do for us?

Published April 2020 

Just speak to any parent of school age children right now, and they will tell you that keeping the kids interested in learning during lockdown, with all the distractions of the home can be challenging, at best. However, we think this is also a rare opportunity to encourage our children to explore a bustling world, teeming with life, from right by the back door!

One way to dive into a whole new and unexplored world, without even leaving the garden is to make a Wormery. This grants a VIP view of the wonderful work of worms. It’s also a really fun activity to do with children of all ages, whilst the sun shines!

Follow these easy steps and share pictures of your wacky underground worlds to @SMMTIF #ifwormery

Materials you will need:

  • 2l plastic drinks bottle (empty and clean)
  • Soil, Compost, Sand
  • Dark coloured plastic bag (a bin bag will do)
  • Scissors / Stanley knife
  • Water spray / watering can
  • Worm food: grated carrot, vegetable peelings, dead leaves, shredded newspaper

NB: Make sure everyone washes their hands carefully after handling worms, compost or soil.

What you need to do:

  1. Firstly, it’s time to hunt for a few worms! The kids will really enjoy this bit. And what better way to get some help with weeding the flower beds? From experience, we recommend that adults supervise any digging to make sure not to lose any of their favourite plants. It’s also worth having a good look under stones or just carefully dig a hole. The kids will be amazed how easy the worms are to find.
  2. Next, remove the label from the bottle and cut the top off. This is a job for an adult as it is fiddly and the bottle can be sharp once cut.
  3. Fill the bottle with alternating layers of sand, soil, sand, soil – around a couple of inches deep for each layer. Spray each layer with a small amount of water as you fill so it is damp before adding the next layer.
  4. Add a few worms to the top of the bottle and watch how quickly they dig and burrow down into the layers.
  5. Now, add the worm food to the top. You don’t need to push it into the soil; the worms will come and get it.
  6. Wrap the bottle with the dark coloured plastic bag (worms like it dark, as it would be if it were underground).
  7. Pop the Wormery in a warm place.
  8. Remove the bag to make observations of the Wormery and note the changes over time.

The worm’s job is to increase the amount of air and water that gets into the soil. They also break down organic matter, like leaves and grass into things that plants can use (nitrates). When they eat, they leave behind “castings” that are a very valuable type of fertiliser. Worms are vital to healthy soil and are the superheroes of our gardens!

Top Tips for a Successful Wormery Experiment:

  • You can use the end of the bottle you’ve cut off as a funnel, although we’d still recommend filling your bottle in the garden where possible as you can’t avoid making a bit of a mess.
  • Don’t give the worms citrus fruits or onion, they don’t like the PH.
  • Put some tape over the cut edges of the bottle if they are sharp.
  • Cut a small slit in the top end of the bottle so you can use it as a lid to help keep the Wormery damp.
  • Make sure there is always food available for the worms and the contents are always damp to touch.
  • Watch out for the layers disappearing as the sand and soil mix together and channels appear where the worms burrow.
  • Build note taking and even drawing pictures of the Wormery into your daily routine; the kids will be amazed how quickly the worms get to work.
  • If you don’t have any sand (we used some from the sand pit), you can use different mediums to create your layers, such as shop bought compost, garden soil, dried leaves (crumbled up) or grass clippings.
  • After a week, release your worms back into the garden.
  • You can reuse your Wormery and experiment with different layers.

Remember to tweet us pictures of your wonderful underground worlds @SMMTIF using #IFWORMERY

Authored by: Beth Osborne MCIM CMktr, SMMT Industry Forum’s Head of Marketing

Beth has held a number of senior strategic roles within a variety of technical industries and sectors. Beth is both a Chartered Institute of Marketing and the Digital Marketing Institute graduate, holding two professional diplomas in marketing as well as maintaining the highly revered chartered marketer status since 2014. At Industry Forum, Beth heads up the external communications function, overseeing the effective planning and implementation of all marketing communications, as well as holding overall accountability for the Sales and Marketing Intelligence and reporting function.