Outdoor Vermiponics System

Outdoor Vermiponics System

I finally managed to get my outdoor vermiponics system set up today. As per usual, this is a project I had hoped to get to a bit earlier in the season – but when it comes down to it I just can’t help but feel pumped up about the fact that I was able to get it up and running at all (WAY too many vermi-projects this year – haha!).

I should mention right off the bat that I am very much in the preliminary stages of getting this system set up properly. I don’t yet have the pump and timer etc plugged in. I really just wanted to get the growing media in the bed and plants added, so they could start to spread their roots out a bit.

My main grow bed material is something called “hydroton” – basically expanded clay balls. This is really lightweight stuff though so I ended up weighing it down with all the material from my smaller indoor system (primarily volcanic rock gravel). One of the added benefits of doing this was the fact that – amazingly enough – lots of worms were still living in this material. I’m sure many of them hatched out from all those cocoons that were left in there. This should be a good way for me to kickstart the vermi-ecosystem in the bed.

I also mixed in some brand new shredded drink tray cardboard (aka “egg carton cardboard”). As explained the last time around, I like to include these sorts of materials to make it a bit more worm-friendly. I’m sure the worms would do just fine living in the clay balls on their own, but what can I say – I like to pamper my worms!

I am going to keep things fairly simple as far as plants go, and stick with basil for the most part. I also added one grape tomato just for fun. I am actually quite curious to see if it will thrive in a system like this – since it is a bit more demanding in terms of nutrient requirements.

Basil Seedling in Vermponics Bed

I started the basil in those little paper pots I wrote about not too long ago. They have been taking forever to germinate and grow to the size they are now (with a small second set of leaves coming up). Hopefully they will start to grow much more quickly now that they have room to spread out a bit.

For the time being, I will simply be pouring rain water through the bed to keep it moist and to help flush out any remaining clay dust. All water will be drained from the reservoir until it looks fairly clear. At that point I will start up the pump and timer and we will be officially off to the races!

Young Tomato in Vermiponics Bed

While I was at the hydroponics store buying the hydroton, I grabbed some white plastic sheeting as well. I plan to place a piece of this over top of the system (with holes cut out for the plants to go through) in an effort to keep everything from overheating. I can only imagine how warm the reservoir water would end up getting if it simply sat in direct sunlight all day long. This should help to create a worm-friendly zone up near the surface of the gravel as well (where I plan to add “food” for the worms).

Anyway – that’s basically it for now! You can expect to see another outdoor vermiponics update sometime in the next week or so.

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    • LARRY D.
    • June 15, 2010

    Hey Bentley,You got me wanting to try this technology.I like the fact that if you were using fish and had a power outage,the fish would die.Worms should be a perfect match.But that being said.Do you know if it would be possible to somehow incorporate my worms and koi pond into something like this?Or would that be a no no?

    • Bentley
    • June 15, 2010

    Hi Larry,
    You can definitely have worms in a regular aquaponics (hydroponics with fish) system – if you search on YouTube there is even a video showing a huge number of worms in an aquaponics bed.
    On a related note, I have read about at least one person who has had a thriving population of Red Worms living in their koi pond filter!

    • LARRY D.
    • June 15, 2010

    I didn’t even think about that great idea!Thanks!You got the wheels in my mind turning.I’m gonna start plans on this first thing in the morning.Probably won’t sleep a wink!Keep up the great work you do.Even though worms give you a hand.(ha ha!)

  1. Bentley, this is looking interesting! I’m really excited to learn how the outdoor vermiponics works. Will the worms get too hot? I thought of you just yesterday when I put recycled egg cartons into my bins, since I learned that from you.

    My experimental vermiponics system is indoors by a big window now, but I’m considering hauling it outside so it gets more sun. I know, I’ve got to get pictures up… it is a strange one, with buckets and ladders – and completely solar. I’ll be building a larger one in a gallery in Denver, CO in a couple of weeks, so it is going public. I’ll see about getting some pics posted soon.

    • Bentley
    • June 16, 2010

    Hi Amy! Great to see you. It is touching to know that people sometimes think of me when they see worms, garbage, and egg carton cardboard!

    I am hopeful that the white plastic I’ll be putting over top of the bed (and reservoir) will help to keep the temps reasonable for the worms, but we shall see. We’re still not into the really hot days of summer.

    I can’t wait to see pics of your system. I am always inspired by your work!

    • Paul Smith
    • February 3, 2015

    Hi Bentley,
    Here it is February, 2015 Any update on the Vermiponics system?
    I was following Your comments and they just disappeared. I hope the test did well.
    I am interested in setting up a system, using my sister’s 4X8’X10″ worm bin. It is set up where I will be able to flush the bin and collect the drainage in a sump tank. Then pump it into a grow bed.

    • Bobbi
    • July 18, 2015

    I was thinking the same thing! Did the bed succeed? I’m really curious, although I figure if it’d been a rousing success you’d have posted about it frequently 🙂

    • Bentley
    • July 21, 2015

    Hi Bobbi/Paul
    There were definitely updates after this one. You should be able to find them by doing a search (using the search box in the side bar) for “outdoor vermiponics”.

    Overall the system did OK, but not really worth the extra hassle of getting it all set up etc. I’d like to test out the approach again at some point – but not until I have more space (and time).

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