Worm Composting Potato Tower – Update

Worm Bed Potato Towers

I wanted to write a quick update for everyone today re: my Worm Bed Potato Boxes. As the title of this post implies, they have now been officially upgraded to ‘Worm Composting Potato Towers‘! Whoohoo!

Thanks again to all those of you who chimed in and educated me about this type of system!

My dad was over yesterday and we worked together to create (and install) some wooden collars for my potato boxes – effectively increasing the volume of each, and thus the potential potato growing space. This morning I added a lot more aged manure into each of the boxes, although I still have quite a lot of room for more.

We’ve been enjoying some absolutely fabulous gardening weather for the last week or so, and it’s expected to stick around for at least the next little while. I am amazed by how much of a positive impact it’s had on many of my garden plants, including the potatoes.

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to add another level this year given how late in the growing season it is (and the fact that the worms continue to settle the material), but I suspect that even this one extra layer could end up making a big difference.

Anyway, I’ll continue to keep everyone posted!

Previous Potato Box Posts
Worm Bed Potato Gardens
Worm Bed Potato Gardens – Update

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    • Jean
    • August 14, 2009

    Boy, those plants look healthy! They give me hope– we’re moving to NYC and will have only a small balcony to garden. Since my husband won’t allow me to keep our worm bin in the apartment, I’m going to have to give up the beautiful colony I’ve been raising. But I wonder if I could do a little stealth redworm composting in our container garden, with plants on top? We have some big plastic terra cotta-look planters, and some windowboxes which are going to move with this. I just watered them with a bit of leachate and since we had lots of worms that had migrated to the leachate, I let the worms fall into the pots. Do you think there’s a way to keep those worms happy and healthy (bury scraps in the dirt, for instance?) Thanks!

    • Jean
    • August 14, 2009

    P.S. Can’t wait to see how your potato harvest turns out! 😀

    • Bentley
    • August 14, 2009

    Hi Jean – absolutely! I’d recommend that you use a fairly large, wooden planter. The smaller plastic type of planters tend to dry out and overheat too quickly.
    Real terra cotta would could probably work well – since they can ‘breathe’ somewhat – like the wood – just keeping things a bit cooler and oxygenated.
    Not so sure about the large plastic ones.

    The key to keeping the worms “happy” is to set up a nice habitat for them. My potato boxes are basically worm beds that just happen to have potatoes growing in them. Establish the system as a worm bin first (ahead of time so you have plenty of vermicompost for the plants) – and be careful with anything called “soil” since it can contain inorganic fertilizers in it. I’d recommend simply using peat moss or coco coir, along with any other inert amendments (perlite etc) that you want – along with waste materials for the worms to feed on.

    • Neville Wade
    • August 16, 2009

    Hi bently . I have just seen your potatoe bins and am very impressed. As it is just comeing on to spring here in O.Z I am very busy in the garden. plantingevery thing I can. What is the base of your worm Towers made from,asI would like to make some. Regards Nifty

    • Jean
    • August 23, 2009

    Thanks Bentley!

    I’m so impressed with the way your bean tower came out, too! WRT large plastic containers, I have to say that I have been impressed with how hardy the redworms are. I gave away my worm bin two weeks ago (boo hoo) but I saved a few scoops of castings + worms + cocoons, wrapped them loosely in a black plastic garbage bag, and then put them in a white food service bucket with the lid on loose, meaning to transplant them soon. But during our move I got so busy I left them out, during the heat wave! I was terrified when I peeked in the bucket yesterday, but it turned out that the worms were fine! I quickly dumped the little fellows into my big plant pots to keep them alive for now, but when we get to the new place I’ll do some digging around and hopefully will be able to start a mini worm bin in one pot, then move my plantings on top of it when it seems ready.

    • Janine
    • August 30, 2009

    I messed around with this idea myself this season, but I used old ATV tires I “gleaned” from the dealer nearby. I used very aged grass clippings – because I had nothing else available to me. All went well until over-watering and poor drainage caught up with me and the plants suddenly got sick. Next year I will use straw and castings instead. The theory- aside from recycling and using what’s at hand.. is as the potatoes grow you add another tire on top and by the end of the season you have a lovely tower of tires the neighbors will all envy you for. I’m sure that’s why they glare ! Just kidding … Rather – a long plant with potatoes down the entire length and easy to harvest too.
    Bentley if you have any “scab” on your potatoes it will probably be due to the use of manure, my gardening books often warn the two should not meet.
    But my don’t your plants look Happy !

    • Bentley
    • August 31, 2009

    Hi Janine,
    Not long after writing my update post, my potatoes started looking a little ‘off’. I had added a lot more of the aged manure without anymore straw, and I think that may have resulted in conditions similar to those found in your own system. The worms are really thriving and the material looks nice and moist, so I suspect that’s what happened. Anyway, we’ll see if any of them can make a comeback this year.

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