Worm Inn Tomato Garden?

Worm Inn Tomato Garden

So my “hair-brained” tendencies kicked into over-drive recently (haha)…
It suddenly dawned on me that one of my old Worm Inns (the original design that features a pocket and doesn’t have the zippered screen top) would make a GREAT hanging tomato garden! Unlike regular hanging tomato gardens, the Worm Inn offers a lot of space for the roots – which is not only good for the plant, but also advantageous when you are trying to make it into a “vermi tomato garden“.
Being a hanging system already, and having the nice drawstring opening at the bottom, it almost seems too good to be true (when you are a Worm Head)!

It seemed rather fitting that this system became the “home” for the last of the tomatoes I had in smaller pots (nice to finish with a bit of a flourish, right?). It’s not the most attractive of gardens, I’ll admit, and it became readily apparent that my DIY skills certainly haven’t improved much! (the camo pattern + oversized hardware and chains made me feel like some sort of hunting biker vermicomposter as I put everything together – not that I have anything against bikers who hunt and vermicompost!). But I have to admit, I felt pretty proud of it once I got it hanging nicely, with the tomato plant all set to go (uhhh…grow?)!

The hard part (for me) was building the support frame and getting it to hang properly. Putting the tomato plant in was unbelievably easy! Far easier, in fact, than when I set up a similar system using a normal hanging tomato system (more on that in a minute)!

The only downside of the endeavor was that it was challenging to get good photos while I set everything up, but I’m confident that the simplicity of the process will become clear via my written description and the photos I have included.

Once the plant had been tightened into the bottom of the Inn, I simply filled it most of the way full with a wormy vermicompost mix excavated from one of my outdoor beds. I decided not to bother with soil at all, since it’s become clear in some of my other vermi-tomato systems that the plants don’t really need it, and in fact, that the coarse vermicompost is a much better growth medium (duh!).

After that, I simply added a layer of alpaca manure (mixed with a fair amount of straw), watered it, and attached the screen top via the velcro strips.

As of this morning (less than 24 hours after set-up), the plant is looking good, with its leaves and branches definitely starting to point up towards the sun.

On a related note…

About a week and a half ago, I had an interesting meeting with a person who sells rain barrels and various types of composters here in Ontario. We had a great chat in my backyard (with me showing off my hair-brained vermi-projects of course! haha) and just before he left he happened to mention a hanging tomato garden kit he was planning to start marketing. When he saw my eyes light up at the mention of this (you know me and tomato gardening!! haha), he pulled one from his car and told me to “play with it”!

[Have I mentioned lately that I LOVE what I do?!]

A hanging vermi-garden was the ONE thing I hadn’t set up yet (but was itching to try), although I had been close to purchasing one of the more typical hanging tomato kits from the store.

After thanking him profusely, and seeing him off on his way, I immediately started thinking about how I could turn it into a worm-powered system, rather than using it as directed. Speaking of which, I certainly smirked to myself when I came across the bit in the instructions that said something along the lines of “use potting soil NOT compost in this system”!


I was very impressed with the design (and size) of the system, and the fact that it even came complete with a self watering system (which, alas, I was not able to use due to space constraints)!

Long story short, I got that system set up later that same day and the tomato I planted seems to be doing just fine (after an initial period of decline).

Comparing the two hanging systems, there is NO doubt that the Worm Inn will have the greatest chance of success. Aside from the significantly greater volume, it is also a much more “breathable” system so it should provide a much more worm-friendly environment for all those wigglers.

Whatever the case may be, I will certainly keep everyone posted on my hanging tomato vermi-adventures!

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    • Stephen
    • July 8, 2010

    Do you water the Worm Inn system just as you would any normal tomato plant? How does that effect the worms? How often do you feed the system new food scraps?

    • Bentley
    • July 8, 2010

    Hi Stephen,
    I will definitely water regularly. Worms LOVE it wet as long as the system remains reasonably well oxygenated (also important for the plant). Since both of these drain well, this shouldn’t be an issue.

    I will likely leave the worm inn system to sit for a little while before adding any scraps since there is plenty there now for both the worms and the plant. With the other system I have added alpaca manure twice, as well as one batch of food waste (now that I think about it, it was old green tomatoes – does that make the tomato plant a cannibal? haha)

    I’ll have a better idea re: feeding frequency etc within a few weeks.

    • Ted
    • July 8, 2010

    I bought the Topsey Tervey tomato hanger this year to try on a tomato plant. The plant is smarter than you think. Is it growing downward? No, it’s growing up along the side of it. Maybe next year, I’ll attach a brick to the top/bottom of the plant

  1. I couldn’t decide, after going through most of your posts, which one to comment on so I scrolled back to the top and started here!

    This blog has the most incredible information on it. I want to link back to some of it from our blog where we have recently done a post on worm farming, if that’s OK … of course will full credit.

    I have yet to start my own vermiculture system, but your ideas make me want to start right away.

    I love the hanging tomato plants – have read about this, but never done it.

    Soooo much information to absorb. But one question: in the Worm One truck, do you have the worms in the front seat or the engine compartment! I know compost worms will migrate if they don’t get enough organic matter, but in a really nice looking truck? 🙂

    • LARRY D.
    • July 8, 2010

    Hey Bentley,i got a name for that one already.Call it the poopsy turdy!(insert laugh here).If you hang the creepy pants beside that at halloween,it will look pretty cool at night.Red light shining on it,and Scaaarrr…E!
    That is one neat set up.Sure glad you think outside the box!I may be able to interest a bunch of people on this one!

  2. What a great idea. Love to see the results an the size of the full grown plants. What tomato varieties are you using for this?

    • Bentley
    • July 9, 2010

    TED – I believe it! The plants in both of my hanging systems are already out and up. Pretty cool.
    LARRY – That is a catchy name! lol
    I was almost going to make a creepy pants hanging garden instead, but decided the Worm Inn would work much better (plus I didn’t want my neighbors to think I was more of a weirdo than they already do – haha)
    ANJA – I am eager to see what happens with this as well. The plant I put in the Worm Inn has been cramped in a small pot for too long so I’m not sure it will reach its full potential, but ya never know. The variety in both of these hanging systems is “Tomatoberry”. Will be quite the show if I can get a decent number of fruit to grow and ripen!

    • Bentley
    • July 9, 2010

    TOM – Thanks for your kind words. You are of course welcome to link to anything on the site.
    Redworm One is Larry D’s creation so I can’t comment on the worm holding properties of the vehicle. haha

    • LARRY D.
    • July 10, 2010

    Tom-Front seat.Right after i install seat belts.Don’t want my babies to tumble over.Don’t know how old you are,but trucks didn’t come with them back then.They have to take turns riding with me.I wonder if they’ll try hanging out the window?

    • John Duffy
    • August 14, 2010

    Just a quick note for Tom Dewell…If you’ve not yet embarked on a vermiculture system…Just jump in head first.
    It is …
    1. Easy
    2. Fun
    3. Rewarding
    4. Productive
    Don’t let a fear of failure stop you from getting into it. It really is a blast! Bentley & all the worm heads who hang out here will gladly share their knowledge & expertise with you.
    I would suggest starting out small & as you get a “feel” for vermicomposting, expand from there…
    Nothing ventured, nothing gained…Go for it!

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