Is it a worm bin or a garden…or both? We shall see!
My eco-gardening expansion continues unabated, despite the fact that we are essentially into the month of July already. I’m not sure what’s gotten into me this year, but suddenly I’ve become a gardening fanatic!
As I wrote in a recent newsletter, Red Worms are playing an important role in all of my gardening efforts this season. Most people are familiar with my vermicomposting trenches, but I haven’t yet talked about some of the other methods I’m testing out.
After seeing my brother-in-law’s ginormous potato plants (imagine what potato plants would have looked like during the Jurassic period – haha) during a recent visit, I decided I needed some potato beds this year as well. Some of you may recall that I was somewhat disappointed with my ‘sandbox garden’ potato crop last year. Well, as it turns out, it was enough of a ‘bummer’ to initially make me not want to bother with them this season.
Once I saw the tiny box garden my brother-in-law was doing so well with, I concluded that perhaps all I needed was a new approach. I remembered that there were two big wooden boxes – previously used to grow worms – still sitting down in my dad’s basement, and decided they would be perfect for the job.
Of course, rather than building a run-of-the-mill garden bed as most people would do, I knew I had to try something with a vermi-twist!
I’ve written previously about compost bin potatoes and tomatoes, and have seen enough monster plants growing beside the bin to know that an active vermicomposting system can actual work quite well as a grow bed. As such, I’ve decided to actually try and grow potatoes (and bush beans, as you can see above) in my worm boxes this year. It should be interesting to see what happens.
While the worm-worked manure will no doubt be appreciated by the plants, the somewhat unstable nature of the grow bed may cause trouble. Apart from all the worm movement down below, the contents of the system will also continue to settle as particle size becomes reduced. I will need to continue layering new material on top, and I’m not sure how the plants will handle this. Presumably they will continue to grow towards the sun, but they will likely end up with really long stems (most of the length sitting below the surface). At least with manure you don’t see nearly the volume reduction as you would with food waste, so that should help. It will also help that most of the material added to the boxes was already pretty well processed.
From a vermicomposting perspective, I’ve worried that the bins will get too hot for the worms since they are sitting in direct sunlight all day, and have a thick layer of straw on top. The straw of course is a double-edged sword. It’s great for keeping everything moist down below, and for shading the worms from the sun, but it will also reduce evaporative cooling, which can be important for a worm bin on hot summer days.
Anyway – we’ll see how it goes. No matter what happens, I have little doubt that it will be a fun learning experience, as always.