I love worms and all that they do… and I’m sure you do too. Earth worms are super, but I especially love composting worms… I mean, what is there not to love about these quiet achievers… every day, going about their business of converting all sorts of organic waste into the most beautifully rich soil conditioner. They don’t ask for much… just a little moistened cardboard or a fresh banana skin from time to time.
I kept a worm farm for years… just one of those simple ones you can make with polystyrene boxes from the green grocer… but I’ve got to be honest, being the lazy bones that I am, I got a little slack with the upkeep. I know it’s not much, tossing in a bit of food and water from time to time, draining off some liquid and scraping off the castings, but it’s just another fiddly process in my routine that I found difficult to keep up.
That’s why I was delighted when I discovered the concept of the ‘Worm Tower’. It literally cuts out the middle man, taking the worms and casting directly where they are needed, in the garden. No mess… no fuss! Just a simple structure that you install in a garden bed where you tip in your waste and let the worms work their magic. As they break down the waste, all of the goodness is released into the soil to benefit the surrounding plants.
Too easy. So how do you make one?
What you need is:
A piece of PVC pipe, about 150mm wide and 50cm long.
A drill and 5mm drill bit to make holes
A terracotta dish to act as a lid
Worm food like vegie scraps, newspaper, cardboard, and of course…
Compost worms… you can get these at your local garden centre, or have a dig through your compost bin… you’ll probably find a few clumps of red wrigglers in there.
Start by drilling lots of holes in the pipe. This creates airflow within the pipe. Then choose a spot in your garden bed … and dig a hole around a spade depth. Position your pipe in the hole… you should have roughly 15-20cm of pipe above the soil surface… then backfill around the outside with soil.
On the inside… add some bedding material for your worms… starting with compost … some finely chopped vegie scraps… lawn clippings and finally… some strips of wet newspaper. Then, in go your worms. Once that’s done, put your terracotta lid on to keep your babies warm and safe.
Those worms will chomp into that pretty quickly, so just check on it from time to time and add more bedding material as needed… and when you’re watering, have a look to see if they need a little splash to keep their working environment moist. Every six months or so, empty the whole lot out, take out some worms, fork the castings into the surrounding soil and set up your tower in another position.
It’s really fun and easy to do, and you can see how installing a few of these through a vegie patch or a flower bed would provide ongoing benefits for your soil and plants. I’m setting one up in my ornamental garden to help process the continuous flow of waste from my new dog ‘Ralphy’. There’s got to be some good to come from this unfortunate part of dog ownership!