How to make your own Worm Tower
When Matt and I started to put ideas together on how to re-landscape our back and front yards, we both agreed we wanted a practical, semi-low maintenance garden that was still gorgeous to look out on. What does this mean exactly?… we wanted to keep growing our own fruit, vegetables and herbs (or at least attempt to), add vibrant colours with suitable companion plants and plants that would attract bees, but most importantly… keep the cost of watering and fertilising to manage and cost effective levels. When we first purchased our property and added two raised gardens beds, along with the current retaining wall garden beds, we didn’t realise how much extra water would be required (in the heat of Summer) to maintain the plants. Well, that’s not to say we didn’t realise that the plants needed watering, more that we were shocked at how much water we actually ended up using when we received our quarterly water bill. So, with the house being renovated, this was our opportunity to create a more self-sustaining garden environment.
Since we couldn’t alter the front retaining walls, we decided to simply add several in-ground composting systems with worms. We wanted to try to modify a wicking bed system, but since the fruit trees are well established, we decided to leave this for the meantime and just stick with composting. We are still researching ways to minimise water usage… keep you posted.
We had been to a home show earlier this year and I recall seeing a lady selling in-ground composting systems. I tried googling this, but I could find what I was looking for. Instead, I stumbled across this website about Worm Towers and thought it was cheap to try, so if it didn’t work, we wouldn’t have spent a lot of money on it. I told Matt about my idea and that we would require some PVC piping to start the project. Well… my very resourceful hubby informed me that our local Leagues Club is under-going a renovation itself and he would speak with the site manager to see if they had any building materials they were discarding that we could use. We were in luck. They had metres of 100mm PVC piping. Perfect for our Worm Tower project.
The Benefits of Worm Towers
Takes kitchen scraps
Easy to make
What You Will Need
PVC Pipe about 100mm in diameter and 50-60cms in length
A drill to make holes in the pipe – at least 1/4 to 1/2 inches
Composting worms – recommended minimum 50 worms/tower
Shredded newspaper, aged manure, straw or other carbon rich organic materials
PVC Pipe Cover – same diameter as your pipe
I used 100mm piping at 60cm lengths. Matt did the handy work as I was very slow operating the drill and digging deep enough holes to bury the piping. I read a few posts on Worm Towers, and incorporated them together. You can find the links to these websites below.
We purchased our composting worms from Bunnings. They had two choices available and we ended up getting the
Dr Worms 1200 Essential Kit. Basically, we got 1200 live composting worms for $54.80.
What To Do
Drill a bunch of small holes about 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter in the lower part of the pipe (lower 30cms). Dig holes to 30-40cm deep and bury the pipe (the end with the holes) in the garden bed, leaving the remaining amount above ground. Fill about one third of the tower with damp, shredded newspaper or other organic materials and add your worms. Add a few more inches of newspaper to bed the worms down, and cover with the lid. Let the worms settle in for a few days, then start adding handfuls of organic material to the tower.
The amount of organic matter the worms can handle at once will vary a little depending on the season and the temperature. If you consistently produce more organic waste than your worm tower can handle at one time, add another! Matt and I made six towers and placed them near each fruit tree in the retaining wall.
I haven’t been quite sure how much food waste to add to each tower, so I have been checking on them regularly to see how quickly the waste is being broken down and topping up bits at a time on a weekly basis. Seems to be going well so far! I’ve included a quick reference guide on what you should and should not be feeding your worms!
I found this YouTube video posted by ‘Frank Gapinski’. This video features Leonnie Shanahan explaining how to build your own Worm Tower and keep your garden fertilised with worm castings the natural way. I found this extremely helpful when deciding how to add composting to our garden.
Hopefully this post helps you or at least points you in the right direction!