This post is so long overdue it’s almost silly. But hey – I’m a pretty silly guy!
I figured that – if nothing else – this final vermicomposting trench wrap-up could at least help to inspire a few readers to add trench gardens to their plans for this year’s gardening season!
Based on the number of times I’ve referred to my previous trench posts, and all the positive things I’ve had to say about this approach, I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that I considered my vermicomposting trench projects an overwhelming success. In a sense I’m kicking myself a little for never having thought of doing this before. Obviously, the restaurant vermicomposting project was a major influence.
In fact, I’m not even sure ‘projects’ is the right term, given the fact that initially I was just looking for a way to deal with hundreds of pounds of food waste without offending my neighbors! But of course, they blossomed (literally – haha) from there and really gave me a taste (literally) of what’s possible.
Let’s review some of the advantages of this approach:
- Great way to deal with large quantities of organic waste, easily and hassle-free
- Provides plants with an all-natural and continuous supply of nutrients throughout the growing season (assuming enough materials are added initially, or materials are added on an ongoing basis)
- Provides plants with readily available water source during the hot months of summer
- Eliminates the need to ‘harvest’ compost, separate it from worms etc etc
- It’s a great way to produce a large, thriving population of composting worms in your garden (but remember – they will tend to stay in the trenches, not move into your soil)
- No need for supplementation with inorganic fertilizers
- Helps to boost your local ecosystem (my trenches helped to produce LOTS of crickets as well, which would have been a great food source for backyard chickens if I had them, and of course any natural predators in the area)
- Very ‘eco-friendly’ in general
- Trenches are an effective booby trap for nosy neighbours
Now thatsa what I call a Baby tomato!
As I’ve stated before, my gardening skills in general are not top-notch – I tend to be lazy and just don’t dedicate the time either to planning or to the learning of proper techniques. As such, I was pretty impressed with how well everything grew – and it makes me wonder what real gardeners would be able to accomplish with this approach!
Final tomato ‘clean-up harvest’
I grew so many tomatoes and zucchinis that I was literally giving away shopping bags full to any friends and family that would take them – and still, not all were used (yeah – worm food!!!).
Although started very late, the pumpkin patch / potato garden did quite well
I’ve written more about my ‘sandbox self-fertilizing garden‘ over on the Compost Guy blog, but this was another example of a successful implementation of the composting trench approach. I didn’t even plant anything in this bed until mid-July, but still managed to produce a nice big pumpkin for Halloween (also some smaller ones, but they just ended up as worm food). The potato crop was fairly disappointing, but hopefully we’ll see an improvement in yield this year with a bit more of a proactive approach.
This poor, unsuspecting pumpkin will soon be a ghoulish jack-o-lantern!
I’m sure some people were left wondering if the trenches were going to be kept active and added to during the winter months. While I seriously considering making an effort to do so, I realized that it was probably better to put most of my focus on the big winter worm bed we set up over at my dad’s place.
As such, I actually moved a lot of material (containing a LOT of worms) from the fence-line trench over to the sandbox garden. Unfortunately, winter hit a little early this year and I wasn’t able to protect the sandbox bed as planned.
As you may recall from my last winter composting update, a very brief bit of really nice weather (which resulted in most of the snow disappearing) over the holidays did allow me to better prepare the sandbox for the very cold weather typical of Jan and Feb. At the same time, I added a bunch of manure to the fence-line trench to provide a nice food boost for the worms once spring arrives.
Since I am no longer involved in the restaurant vermicomposting project, my waste material of choice this year will likely be horse manure – it should be interesting to see how it compares to the food waste. I predict that it will be excellent for plant growth (since it already contains a lot of plant nutrients), but that it won’t have all the same advantages – such as providing water for the plants the way the food waste did.
Anyway – I definitely can’t wait to get things rolling! Apart from revamping my current trench systems, I have plans to make at least one or two more. One in particular should be really interesting. I live on a very open, exposed property – something that has really bothered me (and likely my neighbors – haha) ever since moving here. This year I’ve decided to create a natural (and seasonal) privacy fence along the back fence-line, using Jerusalem Artichoke. My neighbor sets up an above-ground pool every year in her backyard, so I don’t think she’ll mind having the extra privacy as well (although she is the furthest thing from being an ‘earthy’ gardening type, so she may think it’s an eyesore). Aside from hopefully providing a fast growing wall of foliage, the ‘artichokes’ will offer some food value as well since the tuberous roots are edible.
I would love to hear about other people’s outdoor vermicomposting projects this year, so please write in to tell me about them. I’ll likely feature some of these on the blog (for those who provide photos and are interested in this) as well.
Previous Vermicomposting Trench Posts
The Vermicomposting Trench
The Vermicomposting Trench – Part II
Zucchini Recipes, Anyone?
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If only I were my age 8 years ago, I could probably send u horse poop because when i was about four, my grandpa had a lot of horses (about 21) and my brother’s and I’s favorite job to help my grandpa was go into the stables and scoop up the poop into buckets. Then we took it over to this machine where we dumped it. when there was enough poop in it, my grandpa drove it over to a big corner near his barn and turned on the machine and it would (if i remember correctly) throw the poop.He had a huge 15 foot mountain of horse manure. That’s like, better than worm heaven and heaven for me if i had a vermicomposting system like i do now. Now sense my grandpa has only 1 horse left and cant pile up manure anymore, the poop mountain is now a 10 foot mountain of pretty much grass. (I haven’t been near it for a while)
I was very impressed by the success of your worm trenches! I’m planning a few raised beds including the worm trenches. What I was wondering is what happens to the worms after the organic matter is all consumed? Do they die? If i were to dig new trenches within the same raised bed would the worms move to the new trench when the old one was exhausted? Do the worms over winter? Sorry for so many questions, and I hope they haven’t been asked a million times before! Thanks again for all of your help and this great website!
How do you keep out centipedes and ants from your trench?
I tried a small one and the worms became buffet for for ants and centipedes. By the way I live in the tropics where the soil is crawling with all kinds of things.
Oh my gosh! DON’T do it! Jerusalem artichokes are awful to
eat–like half-cooked potatoes but with even less taste.
AND they’re completely impossible to get rid of, once
you realize you don’t like ’em. Try something less permanent,
like a mixed border of tall annuals, like multiple colors of
sunflowers with kochia bushes (harbor for beneficial insects),
cosmos and zinnias….anything but Jerusalem artichokes.
Thanks for the advice, Lee – I think you are definitely right! Sunflowers would be really nice and should attract lots of birds to my yard later in the season. I’m probably on shaky ground with my neighbor as it is – so the last thing I want to do add insult to injury by infesting her yard with Jerusalem Artichoke!
My dad had great success replanting the bamboo that they had in the indoor pool room. It outgrew that space, so he decided he’d just give it a try instead of purposely killing them. Despite the Oregon coast cooler weather, they are thriving and providing a nice barrier from his neighbor’s trailer.