When I started looking at buying my first wormery I soon got overwhelmed by choices.
I knew I wanted a design that works for the worms, is easy to use, clean(ish), durable and affordable. After an initial gasp when looking at prices for wormeries in general (funny how you can get used to prices over time) and doing loads of research and I settled on the Tiger Wormery.
A real, personal and in-depth Tiger wormery review would have been great back then, especially one where you are not only shown how to set it up (of which there are plenty) but also what happens further down the line.
Things To Consider Before Buying A Wormery
Wormeries take (most of) the yuck out of your weekly rubbish bin and turn it into a nice soil amendment full of microbial activity and diverse nutrients right where you are. No fuel for transport to landfill or bio-digesters required.
Even if you have space on your property for a traditional composter there is always the danger of critters following their noses and set up home in the compost heap if food waste comes freely regularly.
Also, unlike landfills which contribute to greenhouse gases (methane) due to the anaerobic nature of the decomposition of organic waste, a wormery when set up properly will select for aerobic bacteria to decompose your food waste. In fact, worms need aerobic conditions to live.
So, in a nutshell, a wormery enables you to recycle plant based food where it is created: on your property, whether you have an indoor or outdoor worm bin, It doesn’t require much space and no extra energy input other than the occasional check on things. All of this makes it a truly sustainable recycling solution.
Is A Wormery Right For You?
If you answer yes to most of the questions below, then a wormery could fit in quite smoothly with your life-style
- Do you regularly have vegetable and fruit scraps?
- Are you usually at home and never away for more than a few weeks?
- Do you have a sheltered space for a wormery about 40×40 cm footprint?
- Are you free of any critter-related phobias?
- Would you like worms create beautiful free soil amendment that packs more beneficial microbiology than any compost you can currently buy, allowing you to have healthy indoor and outdoor plants and removes the need to buy any more inorganic fertiliser?
- Are you looking to raise your own on-demand fishing bait?
- Do you want to have some worms to feed to your pet (axolotl anyone?)
With this mental health check out of the way let’s have a look in more detail at the wormery at hand.
Tiger Wormery – What is it?
This wormery comprises of a number of stackable trays which sit on a base that catches any liquid percolating through the system.
It is designed for anyone wanting an easy to use home for the worms where food can be added to the top and once decomposed and processed by the worms, rich, pleasant smelling worm castings can be harvested from the bottom tray.
There are quite a few, very similar models on the market but this is a nice medium sized unit at a comparatively low price point. The parts are easy to handle, it keeps looking fairly smart even after months and months of using thanks to the scratch resistant, recycled plastic.
Who The Tiger Wormery Is For
It is a fab starter wormery for households of up to 4 people.
The limiting factor is the surface area of the trays. When too much fresh kitchen waste is added at one time it will quickly heat up and force your worms to crawl out to save their lives or just die inside the bin.
So, if you eat a lot of vegetables and fruit going for a wormery with a larger footprint would be the right thing to do.
Who The Tiger Wormery Is NOT For
If you find the thought of worms just too gross either find someone else to take care of the wormery or do yourself a favour and let it go.
The reason is that, for the bin to be successful you will have to monitor things at least a little once a week.
Too put things into perspective: it’s as bad or harmless as looking at a compost heap and earthworms when they can be found on the pavement during a shower of rain. At least it is for me.
A question from a concerned person with a house proud soul: Truth: how messy and smelly is this thing?
Errhm. This is probably the most difficult one to answer as it brings up memories of arguments with my mother, so let me try and be diplomatic.
If the wormery is started cautiously (follow the instructions to a T) and you add only little food at a time there won’t be smells of rotting food.
As the worm population increases and you have more and more little wisps of hungry hatchlings you can add more food, especially once you have a full tray of worm castings in the lowest tray after about 3-4 months. Worm castings provide a cozy, safe environment for worms to retreat to to lay cocoons (worm eggs with usually 3 and up to 7(!) wee worms – that’s the most I have counted but apparently can be up to 9).
Oh, and the worms themselves do not smell.
As for the mess, if handled correctly all the mess of decomposing organic matter stays inside the bin. Sometimes, when you lift the lid and trays a some worm castings and the odd worm might fall down to the floor and can be picked up quickly and put back.
Tiger Wormery Pros
Easy to use Right out of the box everything included to have it set up within 30min at the most to screw in the tap and the 4 bolts to fasten the leachate tray onto the base. Trays stack up and slide into each other easily.
Kit option available You can order everything you need in one go from one supplier to get you going as soon as the box arrives. Easiest option unless you have a friend or local supplier of composting worms
Material: recycled Plastic Easy to keep clean through many seasons. A tray can be quickly hosed down after harvesting the worm castings and will look as new.
5 year warranty
Several Colour Options Because you might just as well brighten up the place with a splash of colour.
Tiger Wormery Cons
No Venting Holes
Aeration tends to be the biggest problem with plastic wormeries due to the nature of the material. This can have 2 consequences: your bin gets too wet and too anaerobic.
Despite this I have been using this wormery successfully since 2018 without changing anything in the design. Instead I have figured out how to best use the bin.
What Do You Get?
Trays – A Convenient, Semi Flow Through System
A square area measuring 36x36cm per tray and each 13cm high. This is less than most other wormeries. They do slide into each other, and you can expect a tray to build up a layer of about 10cm high of worm castings, so about 13 ltr of of beautiful soil amendment for your plants per tray.
The bottom of the tray is like a sieve to allow liquid to drain and worms to go up and down. When you have 2 trays on the go the lowest will be frequented less by worms unless the situation upstairs has become unbearable. in which case the lower case becomes a refuge area.
The idea is to mimic partially the situation in nature where fresh organic matter falls onto the surface for surface dwelling worms to digest leaving behind stable worm castings that do not need to be decomposed any further.
When the material in the lowest tray has been processed by worms you can empty its content and use it for your plants. Place the same tray on top of your last highest tray and keep adding food and cardboard and so on.
3 Trays is a good number to have enough time for your food waste to be properly processed. I also like to use the top tray as a storage space for cardboard, ground egg shells and gloves, keeping everything hidden and still at hand when needed.
Lid – Multiple Functions but does not replace full shelter
The lid is gently sloping to allow any condensation to flow back down into the bin.
It’s easy to give it a good clean with your garden hose every now and then.
The lid works very nice as a receptacle for a tray when upside down in such a way that no worms get squashed and any material from the bottom of the tray can just fall into the lid and then back into the tray when putting everything back in place. Believe me, it’s built in convenience you’ll come to appreciate every time you want to inspect how the lower trays and the sump is doing.
Note: The lid is not big enough and not meant to prevent rain to enter the worm bin from the sides. The wormery needs to be placed under a bigger cover.
Tap – Monitoring Excess Leachate
People new to worm composting too often need to learn the hard way how much food is too much for the amount of worms they have.
I was certainly one of them. The result is often a bin that is too wet and the excessive liquid needs to be taken out to prevent the wormery to go anaerobic.
If you can, either drain the sump tray once a week or leave it open and let any liquid out of the tap straight into the soil or catch it in a jar to be diluted with 10 parts water.
Part of liquid that ends up in the bottom tray is likely to come from partially rotting fruit and vegetables and could harbour some pathogens. Diluting the leachate with water helps to prevent these pathogens to become trouble for a plant.
Best cause of action is to have as little leachate as possible by adding as much cardboard to the food mix as vegetable and fruit scraps.
Original Organics Full Kit Option – worth having?
Original Organics offers coir bedding and about 100 tiger worms. 100 worms is not a lot! To put it into perspective: it means for the first few weeks you should add only as much scraps as a chicken egg per week. You can see how little that is and too many people chuck in wayyyyy too much kitchen waste at the poor small starter population. Then things get too hot and anaerobic and worms will flee the scene.
On the other hand the amount of lime mix seems somewhat excessive and should last you for 2 years or so. If you eat eggs and grind up the egg shells you will have plenty to add to the bin and don’t need the lime mix. Vegans on the other hand might find the lime mix useful.
If you are rearing to go and want your worms to start producing worm castings asap I would recommend buying the worm bin only and adding a starter pack that has at least 250g or better even 500g of composting worms to avoid starter frustration.
Final Verdict after Real Life Test: Highly Recommended
Highly Recommended for 3-4 person households
Wormery Starter Pack
If you want to produce as much worm castings as quickly as possible get this extra starter pack with more worms.
Alternatives to the Tiger Wormery
If you’ve read this far you will have a good idea what you get yourself into when buying a wormery, in particular the Tiger Wormery.
In case you are wondering how it compares to what else is out there here are a couple of alternatives.
The learning curve is going to be the same for all ready-made wormeries. They all need to be in a place sheltered from direct sun and rain and best to be kept in a frost free place in winter.
- Worm City
- Worm Factory
The Worm City works in the same way as the Tiger Wormery but has a larger capacity per tray, about 19-20 ltr worm castings per tray vs 13 ltr with the tiger wormery.
Larger tray size means this one is more suitable for larger households of more than 4 people or even if 4 people produce a lot or green kitchen waste.
Recommended to go for at least 250g worms starter pack.
Similar in shape and price but comes in a distinctive bluish green colour.
The main difference though is that it has venting holes in the lid. A big plus as long as you keep food waste buried under worm castings, especially in summer to avoid fruit flies.
A different shape but same stacking, semi-flow through principle as the other wormeries.
The lid has some venting holes which is good.
The capacity of the round trays is similar to the tiger wormery we are mainly reviewing here, so less than the Worm City and Worm Factory.
How long until your first worm castings harvest?
Decomposition or composting itself depends on several factors: moisture levels, temperatures, material, presence of microbiology. Worms are really after the micro critters and just happen to slurp in organic plant matter in the process.
Having said that there are some foods worms will attack pretty rapidly, usually vegetables high in water and low in acids: squashes, cucumbers, bananas for instance. Those single items may be eaten in a few days provided the amount of food vs amount of worms and temperatures (somewhere between 12 – 15C) are right.
Cardboard and root vegetables usually take a few weeks, even months. More woody material can take several months.
How quickly do worms reproduce?
Two to three months if conditions are right. Click here for more info.
How long can I keep the worm bin unattended?
Several experiments have been done where people set up a worm bin and leave it alone for months. This could work for slow decomposing matter low in nitrogen like autumn leaves, cardboard and coffee grounds perhaps.
If there is enough food in the wormery especially kitchen waste that takes longer to break down (think of those root vegetables and cardboard that are still waiting to start to decompose) then worms can happily survive for a month or so at temperatures where they are active (12 – 25 C).
Especially if you have an established wormery with at least a full tray of bedding and castings, say a full tray.
Just make sure there is enough air coming in at the top and that the wormery stays aerobic, so doesn’t get too wet but also doesn’t dry out, although the latter is usually not a problem in the UK climate.
What goes into a wormery?
Green kitchen waste: fruit and vegetable scraps (raw, cooked only if no salt was added – salt is a worm killer!)
Cardboard (50% for kitchen waste with high water content)
Genuinely compostable packaging like those bags made out of starch
100% cotton clothing/ dish clothes etc (keep it very moderate)
What shouldn’t you put in a wormery?
Avoid adding excessive amounts of anything with strong smells: citrus and onions for instance.
Egg shells don’t do any harm if thrown in but won’t really break down either. They are useful if ground to a fine powder though. Then they can help keeping the pH more neutral.