Wormy Windrow Tomato Garden

They say that necessity is the mother of invention. Well, I’m certainly not going to claim I have “invented” anything here – lol – but a major necessity has required me to do things a bit differently on the tomato-growing front this season. If you have followed the blog for anything length of time you’ll likely know that I LOVE growing tomatoes every year (so much so that I’ll be starting up a new site dedicated to the topic! Stay tuned) – but this year I have gone a little overboard, even for me!

I have way more plants than I have good spots to grow them, so I’ve had to get a little creative. First and foremost, I’ve decided to basically turn my longest vermicomposting windrow into a form of lasagna garden.

This certainly won’t be the first time I’ve grown tomatoes next to a composting bed. It all started with the “vermicomposting trench“, 6 years ago….

The trench has since become the “windrow” I am referring to today, and every season I have grown tomatoes next to it. Here is an image from last summer.

Perhaps my most consistently successful tomato row has been the one that sits in front of a wall retaining an even larger worm composting bed.

BUT this is likely the first time I have put tomatoes all the way around one of my vermicomposting beds (and spaced them this closely together). In light of this, I will be putting even more effort into making sure the bed is as optimized as possible. Since there is only so much food waste I have available, I plan to add various other materials for the worms to process – such as chick starter feed, alfalfa mash, and aged manure.

Moisture is something else I will need to pay close attention to, and will almost certainly need to supplement on a regular basis. Even during summers with regular rain fall, my garden plants have managed to suck the worm beds pretty dry. If I have any hope of achieving the “optimized” worm composting environment I am after, I will need to maintain a moist worm habitat zone.

Anyway – it should definitely be interesting!
Stay tuned for more updates – both on the tomato windrow front and re: various other vermi-gardening projects I’ll have on the go this season (eg. should have a vermi-fertilization system update for you this week as well).

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  1. wish u luck,but i think u will end up with lots of plant,but not very many tomatoes,but would like to know how it turns out tu bobby

    • Bentley
    • June 30, 2014

    You better stay tuned, Bobby! Should be interesting.

    I usually end up with “lots of plant” AND lots of tomatoes – but we’ll see if I am pushing my luck too far this season!

    • Karen
    • August 10, 2014

    Hi perhaps a wicking garden would work for you? I live in Perth, Australia. our summers are very hot and dry. i have found that the worms survive our summers well. now its winter my backyard is full of red worms 🙂 I dig a trench, line with plastic, put sand on top and then build a lasagna garden on top. All my wicking gardens started off as worm beds and then I planted into the gardens. I am adding worm buckets for them to feed from to give myself somewhere to compost and to give the worms extra food.. But they have been happy with the straw, manure etc I feed them.

    • randall
    • August 14, 2014

    hi there,

    from the posts that i have read (and enjoyed here) you seem to make an effort to avoid plastic and other synthetic nastiness from leeching into your food. my suggestion for water retention is cardboard. after removing the tape and finding boxes with the least amount of printing or colours, cardboard is a free and abundant lasagna garden material. i always start off the lasagna with a layer of overlapping cardboard, water-soaked to invite the existing worms to lunch. then after the usual multiple layers (i use 1 part green material, then 2-3 parts brown, then back to green, etc.) i finish off with overlapping cardboard with a bit of space around the plant for expected stem growth and most importantly for water to get in. this holds in the moisture, reduces weed growth overall and gives an easy walkway around the plants – all at the same time.

    another suggestion in place of lining the beds with plastic (sorry karen, i really try to find all the ways to avoid the stuff) is to use clay. basically you do the same as though you were making a pond. dig deep, line bottom with clay and pack it down, making sure the sides are 100% soil for the worms to get in. then go lasagna crazy. maybe add in worms on top of the clay too, why not.

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