Worms are a fisherman’s best friend.
Worms are a good outdoor distraction for little boys.
Better yet, worms make the best garden compost!
You may view worms as unpleasant slimy creatures, but I think they are God’s gift to the garden. They create soft lush soil that makes my vegetables grow healthy and taste delicious.
So, when I recently read a blog post about how to increase the worm population in your garden using worm towers, I immediately researched various websites about how to build your own. Turns out it’s not that hard, and they really do work!
With a little bit of money (about $20 of materials and $14 of fresh worms) and a little bit of time (about 3 hours), we had installed three new worm towers. It was a small, but satisfying garden adventure!
Our Worm Tower Adventures
We’ve been gardening for over three years on our little ¼ of an acre plot. It’s not big, but it’s powerful, as it produces over half of the vegetables we eat over the summer, fall and even part of the winter months. (Read my post, Better than Organic – Growing Your Own Vegetable Garden.) We are always looking for ways to increase our yield. Last fall, we spread three large loads of wood chips on top of our dirt to emulate the Back to Eden garden landscape. Utilizing worm towers seemed like the best next step to enrich our soil and produce a more plentiful vegetable garden.
Vermicomposting is the use of earthworms to convert organic waste into fertilizer to create abundant garden soil. In simple terms, the red worms eat your kitchen scraps and leave castings (worm poop) in the soil. This wonderful source of living bacteria feeds plants of all kinds and is especially beneficial for vegetable gardens.
In my opinion, worm towers are the easiest way to vermicompost. Worms “worm” their way in and out of the worm tower through small holes, eat up your compost, and slide their way back into the garden soil, leaving their castings everywhere they travel.
Here are step-by-step instructions on how to build a worm tower.
How to Build Your Own Worm Tower
1. Buy 4-6 inch wide PVC pipe and cut them down to 3-foot long sections. We found PVC pipe at Home Depot, but any hardware or plumbing store will have it on hand.
2. Drill small holes about 1-3 inches apart all around the pipe. They don’t have to be exact. As long as worms can squirm through the holes, you’re good to go.
3. Dig a 3-foot deep hole using a post-hole digger or similar electrical tool and place your “hole-y” pipe in the soil. Leave about 3-4 inches of pipe above the dirt surface. (I appreciate my wonderful husband for sweating it out and digging three holes, even one after the sun went down!)
4. Fill the bottom of the hole with some soil to set the pipe solidly into the ground.
5. Purchase a box of earthworms (not fishing worms) from your local garden center or farm store. Call ahead for availability. Place them in your worm tower(s).
6. Start dropping your kitchen scraps in the worm tower daily or weekly as you collect them. (Do not use meat or oils, only vegetable and fruit scraps and egg shells.)
7. Keep a “lid” over the worm tower to prevent pests like squirrels or raccoons from trying to eat the compost scraps. We used a small clay pot, but you could use a mesh or wire seal.
We’ve only had our worm towers installed for about six weeks, but we’ve already seen the compost slowly ebbing away. That means the worms are eating it! That means more worm poop for my garden soil! I know it sounds gross, but it’s very good for my garden plants. The best part is that I have a place to put my stinky compost without having to care for a separate compost pile or bin.
Are you going to build your own worm tower?
Here are two other helpful blogs to get you started in your worm tower adventures.
- Raising Worms for Castings, Part 2 – Homestead Chronicles
- Comparing Vermicomposting Methods, An Overview – The Homesteading Hippy
We found building the worm towers to be easier than we initially thought. It’s a fairly inexpensive investment for a huge return.
I’ll let you know how the worm towers impact our summer garden plants in a few months!