Vermicomposting Trench Video

Seems to be video week here at Red Worm Composting (another video I made will be included with my Vermiponics System wrap-up post, likely published tomorrow or Thurs).

This particular video is one I have been meaning to put together for a LONG time, but alas, the daunting task of trying to organize all my photos and create some sort of cohesive overview always seemed to get the better of me. I am definitely glad that I’m finally able to bring you this one. Not only is this one of my favorite topics, but hopefully the timing will be appropriate as well for those of you gearing up for gardening season this year.

Anyone who has followed this site for any length of time will more than likely be familiar with the “Vermicomposting Trench” idea. While this initially began as a “rescue” method for helping me bury literally tons of rotting food waste, as I witnessed how effective the trench systems were that first summer, I quickly fell in love with the approach. This is in situ composting at its finest – no need to mess around trying to separate vermicompost from worms. Everything just stays where it is, and the plants growing nearby get to reap the benefits!

Hope everyone enjoys the video – and more importantly, I hope that a lot of you give this method a try this year!

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    • Kuan
    • March 30, 2010

    Bentley, great video!!! Always wondered what it looked like from the beginning when you started your trench. Did any of the plant roots from corns, pumpkins, tomatoes, etc. ever grow over and into the trench? I imagine their root system would extend out to where the main nutrition pit (i.e. the trench) is. If yes, do you have to dig again before dumping in more food waste the next time you feed the worm? How many times do you feed the worms in the trench? Seeing that you plant veggies around the trench I am assuming you only do a massive feeding once or may be twice a year (before planting and after harvest).

    Once again thanks for the great video.


  1. B-Dazzle
    That has got to be the best video and use of vermicomposting I seen so far. The relationship of the giant outdoor bin and gardening is brilliant!

    • Anna
    • March 31, 2010

    As a fellow parent of young children, I’d like to know how you keep your daughter from walking on/in the outdoor trenches. Would wooden covers over the trenches restrict airflow too much?

  2. Wonderful, Bentley….
    I have been doing this here in Texas straight in my garden since September. I have been pulling my worms and VC out, as I just don’t think they will be able to handle the summer heat right in full sun. Besides having a fabulous winter garden, one of the side benefits is my surrounding garden beds are just the most wonderful texture and consistency from all the worm work in those areas too. Also, as I have been planting my spring/summer stuff–I just reach over and grab some of the rotting straw from my trench and mulch with that, and just grab some VC from the trench and top dress with that. I’ll be planting peppers and eggplants in that trench, and think there will be some left over goodness to grow some beautiful veggies.
    I will be starting the trench again in September!

    • yoder
    • April 15, 2010

    people == get on youtube and “thumbs-up” this video… spread the vord! this is an extremely effective technique that very few people know about.

    You can plant things right in the middle of the trench!
    Bentley, I made a 5X10X10-foot pile of relatively-fresh horse manure (5′ is the height) in jan/feb, and already the redworms have somehow migrated up to the surface of the pile. They’re all over, one every few inches or so, under the (1-6″) straw mulch. It is very exciting, and makes me look forward to taking out the compost (I bury buckets of food scraps in “tunnels” dug about halfway down from the top. I walk on a 2×6 plank set up diagonally across a chosen corner of the pile, which is held up by wood pallets…) I’m adding N-heavy scraps (with some browns, but not too much) to more quickly break down the manure/bedding, getting it ready for three 30-foot long worm trenches that are to run along 40″-wide beds this summer… WOOWOOWOOO!!

    • Bentley
    • April 22, 2010

    KUAN – You should definitely expect to see some roots growing out into the trench. I would imagine there is an even more extensive network further down. Roots never created issues for me in terms of adding food materials since I always add near the top. As for how many times I fed the trenches – during my first summer I fed them ALL the time (multiple times a week) since I have so much restaurant food waste to deal with. Last year I didn’t have nearly as much (periodic aged manure additions, plus grass clippings and yard waste), but I still fed quite a few times during the growing season. If you don’t your trench will likely sink down quite a lot.
    MARK – Thanks! I was really looking forward to finally getting this one (video) put together. Can wait to get my trench gardens going again this year.
    ANNA – Your first question definitely made me laugh! My daughter is DEFINITELY a handful when we are out in the garden – don’t let the picture fool you. She pulls plants and stomps on trenches and wants to get involved in everything (which is great) – we have a lot of fun, but I definitely don’t get much work done (other than perhaps shooting the odd photo – haha). Good question about the wooden covers. One of my dreams has actually been to set up a network of “square foot gardens” with a network of trenches in between them. I thought some sort of removable boardwalk over top would be really cool. You’d want it to be above the actual trench (don’t want it compacting everything), and if it was slatted that would keep the air moving nicely.
    HEATHER – Great to hear that the trenches are working so well for you. I wonder if a REALLY thick layer of straw would help you to keep them active in the summer. I’m probably naive, being from Canada and all – but figured it was worth asking. haha
    I am seeing real improvement of my soil as well. We have really clayey soil here and over the last few years my gardens have become increasingly crumbly and earthy – loads of soil earthworms doing their thing as well, so that’s always good.
    YODER – Thanks for your support and enthusiasm! Glad your trenches are working so well for you. I agree that plants could be grown in the trench itself – only thing is that, in my case anyway, this would create hassles when trying to add new food, harvest worm-rich material etc etc.

    • Jacque
    • May 20, 2010

    Any problems with raccoons, squirrels, etc digging in the trenches?

    • Bentley
    • June 5, 2010

    Hi Jacque,
    I have not had any serious critter problems. I seem to get some mice when I build up the beds a bit (and more so in the colder weather), and plenty of robins seem to root around in search of worms (a thick layer of straw works really well though). This is definitely a good question, and something others will definitely need to keep in mind, depending on their location.

    • Jacque
    • June 8, 2010

    Thanks Bentley. You live in a suburb, right? We live out in the woods. I wonder how the worms would feel living in a partially buried metal trash can – with plenty of drainage holes of course. Do you have any thoughts? (A determined rodent can gnaw through plastic.)

    • Bentley
    • June 10, 2010

    Hi Jacque,
    I do indeed live in the “burbs”. We are on the edge of town, but aside from loads of birds, the only real “wildlife” we seem to get around here are rabbits and chipmunks (oh – and mice! haha).
    Your idea is a good one – I’ve been meaning to try something similar with a buried plastic garbage can.

    • Elisabeth
    • June 12, 2010

    Would the worms survive a hot summer in Kentucky? Does anyone know how much cooler the underground temperature would be? Maybe I should leave a compost thermometer in the ground and monitor it for a few days.

    • Crystal
    • March 29, 2019

    We live in Zone 5 where the frost can go 4′ deep if there isn’t enough snow cover. Could I replicate the snow cover with enough hay on top and leave my worms in the ground year round?

    • Bentley
    • April 4, 2019

    Hi Crystal – I live in a similar climate zone as you and yes straw (and various other bedding materials) are excellent for protecting a trench (and outdoor low-lying systems in general)

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