• 16/12/12
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By Fergus Walker

We had a fantastic day on Wednesday with the Seed Truck at Dunnikier Primary, setting up a wormery. We had a great team of kids from the school’s Eco Group, and we had a crisp, cold, December day – perfect winter garden preparation weather.

Dunnikier Primary is right in the middle of Kirkcaldy, near the train station, and is in an area that doesn’t have much green space. So the school was very pleased when the council gave them the use of the old janitor’s garden – but they weren’t sure where to start. “Call in the Seed Truck!” they said. So in we came and it made sense to start at the beginning – to make your garden grow, what can be more important than the best soil? And the secret to making excellent compost for improving the soil is to befriend nature’s hardest worker – the lowly worm.

So to start the day we teamed up with the council to get a bumper delivery of humus from the council – thanks to Scott Clelland, the Kirkcaldy Area Parks Team Leader. Just as soon as the pupils had all disappeared in from the school playground, in comes the cavalry – or more accurately, a tractor and trailer expertly driven by flourescent jacketed Alan Anderson. This was the cue that the school’s Eco-Group was waiting for, and it was the work of moments to dispense rakes, wheelbarrows, gloves, shovels and spades into eager hands. We got a quick rallying photograph (of course including the Seed Truck flag) before we got to work.

There were two Seed Truckers on the scene that day – Fergus Walker and James Chapman. Fergus is a dab hand with building things out of wood, and James, with his background in Permaculture, is a multi-talented individual when it comes to gardens and working with kids. So the Eco-group split up into two teams, the worm-box builders and the mulchers.  The mulchers set to work loading the well-rotted leaf mould from the trailer and barrowing it round to the garden, while the builders set to work sawing and nailing to build an Annelid Des Res in record time. The key to the design of the box in this case is insulation,  meaning that the worms will not freeze and die if it gets too cold, and also be more active in the winter. We re-used an old pallet to form the basis of the double-walled structure.

The worms we are using are the blue nose worm, which are excellent composters (unlike the usual earthworm, which prefers soil not old vegetable peelings, so isn’t ideal).  The site we got ours from, www.compostworms.co.uk, states the following:

The Blue Nose worm has been examined by biology experts who have devised the latin name Eisenia Hortensis and also Dendrobeaena Veneta. Whatever its true name, it remains a fantastic worm that will just about eat any waste from farms, kitchens and gardens, and is therefore the worm we recommend for all domestic wormeries.

Blue Nose worms —

  • Breed well
  • Produce excellent worm castings
  • Grow to a good size
  • Travel well in containers
  • Produces indoors or outdoors
  • Always live near the surface
  • Are big eaters — producing lots of worm castings
  • Perfect for garden composting

The day also marked the first step to the setting up of a brand new Seed Truck Network, which will support six gardening projects across central Scotland to get going growing their own food ready for spring. Setting out from our base in Burntisland in Fife, we will be going out to Ceres Primary School (Fife), Dunnikier Primary School (Fife), Holy Cross High School (Hamilton), The Fife Maggie’s Centre, The Children 1st Chill Out Zone in Bathgate, and a new community garden project at Maryhill Community Central Halls in Glasgow. The gardens are at different stages of action, from bare sites with no soil, to ready set up gardens – some with lots of help and expertise, some with just a few volunteers. The Seed Truck will be on hand to help wherever it can with a mix of practical workshops.

I think the photos tell the story better than I can tell it in words, so it’s over to the camera for the rest.

The day before- here’s the Seed Truck parked at the bountiful source of all sustainable wormbox materials – Scottish Wood at Inzievar near Dunfermline. Thanks for the great service (including filling up a flat tyre!) www.scottishwood.co.uk

Here you can see the whole team, tools in hand, ready to go. This is just after the load of humus arrived, thanks to Scott Clelland along at Beveridge Park. The driver is Alan Anderson. The humus/leaf mould will be ideal as a mulch and also as bedding for the worms in the box.

Here you can see the whole team busy as bees. In the foreground are the humus hefters, working away loading up the barrows ready to take round into the garden, and in the background you can see that the box builders have set to work sawing up the pallet that will make the four sides of the box – recycling is the name of the game here!

There were some very skillful hands at work weilding hammers, and the box was built very quickly. Here you can see the double-skinned nature of the box. We filled the walls with polystyrene insulation to keep the worms toasty in the winter – and also not too dormant, so that they will keep on working in the cold weather.

A lot of fun was to be had tipping a big barrow-load out onto the garden

Once the humus had been barrowed round to the garden, it was spread out evenly on the garden as a mulch to help protect the soil over winter, as a soil improver, and as good worm food to attract more worms into the garden.

the king of the castle learns the fine art of shovelling. The humus from the council contained a mix of well rotted leaf mould, rotten wood, roots and stones. We really wanted the leaf mould, so we had to do a bit of judicious sorting

Putting the finishing touches to the worm box

Here’s the whole eco-team posing in front of the brand new worm box.

Worms are really one of nature’s most incredible creatures. They aerate the soil, eat down what we see as ‘waste’ but they see as food, make incredibly rich compost in record time – so you can grow some super-veg.

‘Learn from the worm’ says James, ‘and you will learn much’.  Using a wooden box and spade, James showed all the kids how to chop up the peelings and leftovers which they had brought in, before burying in a little trench in the worm box. If you bury your waste each week, just covering it, then next week make the new trench just next to it, working gradually along, then back, you will avoid fruit flies getting in and taking over (which is more annoying than anything!).  The worm composting tips are all thanks to the fantastic team at Greenway, who we hope to get in for an indepth worm day in the new year. www.greenwayconsulting.co.uk