Back in June I wrote about a DIY vermifiltration system I set up in my yard using an old leaky rain barrel.
The main idea was to collect greywater – dish rinsewater and cooking water likely the main sources – and to pour that through the system on a regular basis. As it percolated down it was worked on by countless microbes (assisted by the activity of Red Worms) and came out the bottom as a liquid far better suited for watering, and perhaps even helping to boost the fertility of nearby garden beds.
It was not a vermicomposting system in the traditional sense. Much of the starting material added early on was very resistant to breakdown – eg. expanded clay balls, woody materials, pine cones. This helped to maintain some structural integrity in the “filter” and created lots of surface area for microbial colonization.
That being said…
The system still provided me with an opportunity to process organic “wastes” effectively, while growing a thriving population of composting worms.
Early on, I transplanted some Lemon Balm and Mohito Mint to a spot right beside the barrel. Neither had been really thriving in their previous locations (especially the Mohito Mint). I figured the moist location, with some extra fertility and decent sun exposure might help them out.
By this fall that definitely seemed to be the case. I was very happy to see them both looking quite good – even spreading around a fair bit.
Towards the end of the gardening season, when it was getting wetter and cooler, I reduced the quantity of greywater I was pouring in. Instead, I decided to start treating the system like a more typical “worm bin”, adding some pretty big deposits of kitchen scraps up near the top.
By the time I decided to empty the system, towards the end of October, there was a big, thriving population of Red Worms concentrated up near the surface.
All that food – likely combined with cool temps – helped to stimulate a lot of cocoon production as well!
Dumping the system out completely, I could see there was no evidence of the (large quantity) of cardboard that had been added during the set up process, and there seemed to be a lot more material that looked like compost. Of course, there were still plenty of resistant materials left for me to screen out and use when I set it up again next season!
Overall, I was really happy with this project – and I see a great deal of potential for dealing with nutrient-rich wastewater this way. It felt great to reduce my own water waste this summer, while simultaneously helping the garden during a time when there were extended periods of hot/dry weather.
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