Monday, May 6, 2013

Worm Tower

A few years ago I had success with vermiculture, or worm composting.  I loved having a handy composting method.  As much as I would love a rotating composter, they are expensive and take up valuable space in the yard.  I would also love a true compost pile but it would be close to the house and would attract all kinds of pests from skunks to raccoons.  Worm composting allowed us to reduce our kitchen waste and the result was lovely compost to add to our garden in the spring.  

Keeping worms indoors can pose problems.  I did battle with fruit flies.  Bowls of vinegar in the container kept it under control, along with a thick layer of newspaper over the food scraps.  As soon as the weather warmed, they were moved to the garage for the remainder of the season.

I am trying something new.  Worm towers.   Rather than keep worms in a Rubber Maid container, the worms are housed in a tower in the garden.  

  • I used a 4” PVC pipe.
  • About 15 3/4” holes were drilled in the bottom half of the pipe.

  • A hole was dug in the garden.
  • The pipe was inserted into the hole so that all the drilled holes were covered.

  • A layer of crushed leaves was added to the bottom.
  • A layer of damp shredded newspaper came next.
  • Then two dozen composting worms (red wigglers). $3.00 at our local bait shop.
  • They were covered with another layer of wet newspaper.
  • The tower was covered with a terra cotta pot saucer to keep flies and critters out.

After sitting for a day, I added chopped up potato peels.  Worms will eat just about all your kitchen vegetable scraps especially if they are chopped up into tiny pieces (no meat, no dairy, no fat, no spicy foods like onion or garlic). The next morning I checked on the worms and discovered castings up and down the side of the tower.  The worms eventually will find the holes in the sides of the pipe and enter and exit the tower, depositing their castings throughout the garden.  A search on google images shows several gardens with these worm towers in every raised bed.  

For now we have one tower but hope to add several more throughout the season.


melismama said...

WOW Never heard of this and how cool! I cant wait to find out more as your adventure continues!

Jessica said...

So far there are many castings in the tower. I did end up adding another 24 worms to it. BUT I am also seeing more robins in my yard so I wonder if they are eating my tower residents......... If it does not work, it is no big deal. Just pull the pipe out!

Frogcreek said...

Well, Jess, I think feeding the robins is a vey noble thing indeed. They are our state bird. I think even if the birds do have a few extra snacks around that there are probably plenty of worms that will use the tower. Such a great simple design.

Anonymous said...

That is so cool. So they do all the work for you?

We have a rotating composter and while I love dumping our vegetable scraps every day, it's been four or five years and it's only 1/3 full because everything breaks down. I think at some point we either have to stop using it or start sifting to start using the compost in our soil. I don't know that I would buy the rotating kind again, I think I would do a tower or something like what you are doing with the worms.

Jessica said...

Today I added a bunch of rabbit poop and wet it down. I have read mixed things about worms and poop but I am going with the theory that they love it!

Jessica said...

I will let you know how it goes with the tower. It is too soon to tell....... I did have good luck doing worm composting in a rubber maid container and did get enough compost for one small bed after 6 months. The fruit flies are just the worst though......

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