Sandbox Trench Excavation 2013

As some of you may recall, a couple of years ago I decided to remove a large quantity of material from my sandbox trench and basically start fresh. It was a really interesting experience, and I ended up with a large quantity of beautiful, rich “black gold”. I ended up using it as a sort of compost-mulch for my raspberry bed.

Earlier this week I decided to do it all over again, after noticing that the bed was no longer supporting nearly as many Red Worms (yet there were loads of soil worms), and that the material was looking very well processed and ready for use. I was also in need of some place – somewhat separated from the rest of my outdoor beds – where I could put material containing a LOT of Euro cocoons.

I put a lot of the material in my raised bed (which was definitely in need of a boost). The rest of it was spread over the raspberry bed.

As I often do with new trenches, I started by lining the bottom with cardboard (in this case, corrugated cardboard). Next, I added multiple bags of mixed kitchen waste + some additional coffee grounds (I pick-up weekly from a local coffee shop). I mixed it with some rock dust and watered everything down.

Then, I simply filled it up the rest of the way with aged manure bedding left over from harvesting my “Euro-Red Mix” (a worm mix I sell up here in Canada).

I have a lot of comfrey growing this year, so I decided to chop some up and add it over top. This should act as an extra layer of protection (helping to retain moisture) in addition to being a slow-release food source.

I seem to recall adding more rock dust along with an upper layer of straw, before watering down again.

Should be interesting to see how quickly a thriving population of (composting) worms develops again!

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    • John W
    • June 7, 2013

    just curious…but on one of your recent post you mentioned that coffee grinds may not be great for Euros…Will that complicate things in this bin if you are trying to get euros to hatch?

    Also…how deep is that?

    Also two…how long do you let that go?

    Also three…do you add food to it as it ages or do you just let them go on the manure?

  1. Why the rock dust?

    • oneman
    • June 8, 2013

    Hi Ruth Anne.

    Rock dust ( grit ) is essential in the worms guts. The worms have no teeth so they use grit in their stomach to grind up the food to get at the nutriment. I use river sand. They do not need much.


    • Bentley
    • June 8, 2013

    JOHN – There isn’t a lot of the grounds, and I added some rock dust with it to help buffer the acidity, so I’m definitely not concerned. Plus, others report having success with grounds being fed to Euros, so this is something I need to test out a bit more anyway.
    The depth would likely have been about 2 – 2 1/2 feet this time around (somewhat deeper when originally created)
    I would let a trench go either indefinitely (as is the case with my other trenches) or for at least a year or two. I’m sure it would have lots of great stuff in it after a single season though.
    As the level of material goes down I will definitely be adding more food materials + more of the aged manure containing cocoons.

    RUTH ANN – while Oneman is right about the value of grit, I’m more interested in the buffering capacity and micronutrient profile. It’s definitely not vital for a trench (I haven’t really used it all that much in the past and everything has still worked out well.

    • oneman
    • June 8, 2013

    I have a farmer friend in Scotland who swears by quarry dust / rock dust. His soil is very, very Gritty and produces a fantastic crop. The extra minerals are definitely a big benefit.

    • Peter
    • June 10, 2013

    I have a lot of fruit waste for my worm inn, more than I do veggies. So my bulk foods are less than idea, fruit waste, coffee grounds, bread ends. I find dissolving some dolomitic lime (make sure it’s dolomitic and not some other lime) in water and adding it to the home made manure mix does wonders for getting worms up into the new feeding and population growth (either from fewer worm losses, or more cocoons). Also fewer potworms etc. (not that those are a problem, but they are an idicator).

    • Susan
    • March 21, 2014

    Where does one buy dolomitic lime and what is it??

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