Building a worm tower is a simple, enjoyable, sustainable way to nurture your garden so that it can continue to nurture you.
Earth—the stuff on the ground, not the planet—is essential for life. Anyone who has a garden (or even a house plant!) has seen a microcosm of this in action. The soil isn’t just something we walk on or that plants anchor in. It’s something that nurtures us and every other form of life on the planet in some sense. Plants need rich, fertile, living soil to truly thrive.
Human beings learned long ago that constantly growing crops (especially the same crop) on the same plot of land would diminish the soil’s ability to nurture plants. Crop rotation can help, but it’s a method that’s simply not always practical or possible. Chemical fertilizers can also help, but why spend money on a chemical product when there’s a sustainable, efficient way to feed your garden? Especially when it’s also a great way to create and use compost and very little effort on your part? That’s where creating a worm tower comes in.
A worm tower is, essentially, a mini worm farm that you plant in your garden, that continually feeds your garden and provides you with a rich, ongoing source of fertilizer. They’re extremely low cost to get started, exceptionally simple to make, and nearly effortless to maintain. The only real question to ask yourself is Why don’t I already have one?
Well, here’s how you remedy that:
• A two to four foot PVC (food grade only) or concrete pipe, five or more inches in diameter
• A shovel
• A drill (optional)
• Compost worms (at least fifty)
• A bag of manure (any type)
• Organic material to compost—fruit and veggie scraps, yard clippings, etc.
• Something to cover the top of the tower—a flower pot works great for this
Your end result is going to look a little something like this:
1. If you chose a food grade PVC pipe and you have a drill, go ahead and drill a few holes in what will be the bottom half of your worm tower. While this isn’t strictly necessary, it can help to make sure your soil is getting a great dose of all the compost, wormy goodness from your tower.
2. You’ll need to bury the pipe, standing upright, deeply enough so that it’s completely stable (pack soil around the pipe, not in it at this point). Choose a spot that will be convenient for you to access, as you’ll want to pop by to add organic goodies frequently.
3. Add manure until your pipe is half full—the amount will vary depending on the size of the pipe, of course.
4. Add your worms. These should be compost worms, the little red super-squirmy guys.
5. Add your organic material.
6. Cover the tower with your flower pot or similar. That’s it!
Maintaining this elegant solution to sustainable fertilization is simple. Compost worms are content fellows that won’t wander off so long as they’ve got something to snack on, and their environment is moist enough. So, (at least) every few days, hook them up with some of your leftover veg, grass clippings, or even damp cardboard or shredded newspaper, and keep your worm tower slightly moist. Not only will they be feeding, they’ll be content enough to multiply, so you’ll soon have enough for another worm tower if you have need of one.
Your little buddies will be thrilled (well, as thrilled as worms get at least), to have such a safe home that’s always full of delicious munchies. They’ll thank you by producing worm juice and worm casings, both of which are wonderful for the soil and for your plants, and they’ll disperse into the soil naturally over time.
It only takes about half an hour to put together a respectable worm tower. Yours can be percolating away, nurturing your garden, in no time!