Worm towers? Never heard of them before?
Neither had I until fairly recently .
Not to be mistaken for some sort of swanky high-rise apartment block for our little wriggly friends , worm towers are in fact a great way of using up waste food and peelings usually consigned to our compost caddies as well as adding long term fertility to our raised beds. They are also super easy to make.
After installing raised beds in my garden , I was concerned to ensure that I maintained the fertility of the soil/compost mix which I had filled them with. Good fertility is the foundation of growing anything successfully in the garden, whether that be herbaceous perennials , herbs , vegetables or fruit. We all need to “eat”…and that equally applies to the plants, shrubs and trees which we want to grow in our gardens. As my garden is really small I didn’t have a lot of room for a conventional compost bin so researched alternatives to composting my kitchen waste in order to add fertility to my raised beds. The internet, as always, provided me with some interesting choices and eventually stumbled upon “worm towers”.
Essentially, they are mini worm farms, except that the worm towers are located directly in the ground where the fertility is needed and that the worms are free to come and go as they please. The added compost worms simply eat the food scraps added to the worm tower and deposit their nutritious worm castings (worm poo) ,via the drilled holes, directly in to the garden soil. Most of the articles I read suggested using a length of plastic pipe drilled with holes in order to allow both moisture and worms easy access in and out of the “tower”. As my home made worm towers were going to be placed in raised beds with a depth of no more 40cm, I decided to use some big plastic plant pots , instead, and liberally drill holes all over the surface.
Once I’d drilled holes all over the big plastic plant pots, I dug out a suitably sized hole in the raised beds and put them in it.
After adding a mixture of shredded paper, cardboard and leaves for bedding at the bottom(which I moistened with a bit of water), I simply topped up the worm tower with food waste from my kitchen caddy and added worms.
Above are the completed worm towers in situ, complete with re-purposed bin lids to stop rain and rodents getting access
Within a matter of weeks after installing them, my home made worm towers were a writhing mass of breeding , hungry worms, all eagerly munching their way through my kitchen waste and dispersing their highly nutritious worm poo to my plants roots. Worms are marvellous subterranean engineers, not only helping to add fertility to the soil but also helping to add oxygen and improve soil structure through their tunnelling and feeding activity.
As well as providing food for blackbirds, thrushes, robins , amphibians and hedgehogs , the ever increasing worm population was a big hit with my little boy and a great way to get children actively involved with gardening and wildlife.