Two clear plastic drink bottles, a 5 litre bottle and a 1 litre bottle.
Scissors and craft knife.
Some gravel, soil, compost, sand and crushed up chalk.
Dead leaves and grass cuttings.
Small labels.
A black polythene bag.
A piece of black polythene or a 2 litre plastic bottle filled with water, with a few squirts of washing-up liquid added, for bringing the earthworms to the surface.

Collect Earthworms

Two suggestions for collecting earthworms are:
Cover a patch of ground with black polythene overnight. Pour water with washing-up liquid on the grass.
The worms will come to the surface in a short time.
Make sure to rinse the earthworms in water before putting them into the wormery, if you have used the washing up liquid method.

Using a Plastic Bottle to make
A Wormery for observing Earthworms

This project is supported by the Department of the Environment Environmental Partnership Fund.
An indoor wormery is an ideal way for observing the usefulness of earthworms. Observers will see clearly, how these creatures aerate the soil by tunnelling through it and how they recycle leaves by chewing on them. They will also learn that earthworms swallow earth to extract nutrients and that their droppings replenish the soil.

Assembling the Wormery

Wash the bottles carefully.
Cut around the shoulder of the 5 litre bottle and remove the top.
Fill the smaller bottle with water and place it inside the 5 litre bottle. The water in the smaller bottle helps to keep the worms cool and the wormery steady). Build up the layers by placing a layer of gravel, about 2.5 cm deep, in the bottom of the bottle, for drainage.
On top of this, add 2.5 cm layers of soil, compost, sand, chalk and so on, up to 2.5 cm from the top of the bottle.

Adding the Worms

Place 5 or 6 worms on top of the soil with a few rotting leaves and some grass cuttings. Moisten the soil mixture with water. Be careful not to overwater and drown the earthworms. Attach labels to the side of the container and mark the layers. This will help to demonstrate the activities of the worms. Place a black polythene sack over the wormery and leave it outside for a week. Earthworms do not like light. Bring it in then and let the children see how the layers have been disturbed by the earthworms and how the grass cuttings and leaves have been dragged underground. Return the worms to their original habitat, after the experiment.
Text:Paddy Madden
Illustrations:Eileen Fleming
Editor:Marian Rollins
Web Page Design:Taran Pyper © 2013

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