Saturday, April 17, 2010

Introducing Red Composting Worms to the Garden

Can it be done? A few weeks ago i decided to try introducing worms to the garden, after reading of the sucsess of others who have tried this method.
 I was worried about the full sun as worms are always supposed to keep cool and also being able to maintain moisture.  I had a nice composty location in mind left over from last years failed potatoes which died through lack of water and heat stress. My fault...I was really surprised when i started to turn the bed over with the fork that in fact there were already a few worms in there. Huh.. These of course must have come from the cocoons in the vermicast i used on the potatoes. The bed literally has been sitting for six months with no water and nothing in it. I figured the cocoons would have laid dormant until it started raining in a about feburary then the bed was nutritious enough to support their growth. It was pretty dry in there now though and they did look a bit scrawny.
Here is how i did it. I took a basket bought from the fish pond section of Bunnings. This is the actual feeding station. This is the where you put the worm food, home made compost or manure. Heaps of holes allow the worms to move freely between the soil and the food source. Dig a hole where you want your feeding station to be.

I wanted the worms to be as well insulated as possible. Most other feeding stations i have come across on the net are made from pvc pipe with holes drilled in the lower section. This probably works just as well as mine. Directly over the basket and worms is a wet hessian cut out from an old potatoe bag, then on top of that i put an upsidedown pot, then on top of that a hessian witches hat cut from the corner of the bag.
I planted lettuce in a circle around the worms and also put in a circle of weeper hose connected to a small water tank. Now this watering system has suprised me. I never expected to be able to have the inline tap on 24/7 i thought it would drain the tank too quick and make it too wet. but it seems to almost wick the water out of the hose when needed. At first i thought it was'nt weeping any water, as the water level in the tank doesnt seem to go down much. But the soil around the hose always seem nice and moist. The small seedlings did struggle for the first few days as it was very hot and i had to rig up a temperary shade for them and i did end up loosing a couple. After about 1 week i could tell they were getting stonger.

This system was set up on the 14/03/10 so its been about 1 month now. During this time i have only topped up the compost once and gave extra water with the hose in the first few days. I have been keeping an eye on the temperature with a propergation thermometer and on accasions i have measured the temperature to be just under 30deg C and not a worm in sight. This is a bit hot for them so i guess they got out of there and went a bit deeper. Now its a bit cooler and I'm happy to see they are back. Today i emptied the contence of the basket, worms and all around the plants and filled it up with fresh compost.
I think it's doing pretty well and we have even been picking a few leaves for our sandwich.

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