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.
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!
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.