Worm Bed Watermelons

Worm Bed Watermelons

One of the known “disadvantages” of vermicomposting vs regular (hot) composting is that weed (and other) seeds are not killed during the process. Anyone who has left vermicompost, or even the inside of a worm bin, exposed to light is likely no stranger to the sight of various seedlings springing up.

I generally pluck these seedlings out and turn them into compost themselves, but this year I decided see what would happen if I simply let them grow in one of my outdoor worm beds. As mentioned, I’ve been testing out different ways to process restaurant food wastes in a neighbour-friendly manner. Aside from my trench vermicomposting method, I’ve been experimenting with the addition of waste materials directly on the surface of a garden bed (see ‘Garbage Gardening‘ over on the Compost Guy blog).

I started up a worm bed in one of my small gardens in an effort to increase my composting area. It just so happened that the waste I added during the initial set-up had a lot of watermelon leftovers in it. Once I saw how quickly the seedlings popped up, I got to thinking that it might be fun to see what happened if I let a few of them continue growing. As is often the case with my yearly plantings, the melons got a late start – but hopefully I’ll still get the plants to bear some fruit before the end of the season.

I have also been adding waste materials directly to other beds where plants were already established and have been pretty impressed with the results. Lots of composting worms seem to be more than happy to congregate in and underneath the decomposing waste materials, and again I am seeing plant roots spreading amongst the waste materials as well.

One waste material that has worked surprisingly well is turnip. Given the fact that it is a pretty tough root vegetable, and has a waxed skin (to help it keep for months in storage), I thought for sure that it would very challenging to decompose. While it certainly does take longer than other materials, such as lettuce, for whatever reason the worms seem to love it. I’ve simply be piling it in underneath my straw mulch and leaving it alone. Whenever I check back I always find lots of worms crawling around on it.

I will admit that dealing with all this food waste has involved a LOT of work this year, but as you can probably tell, I’ve been having a lot of fun with it!

[tags]watermelon, worm beds, worm composting, vermicomposting, in situ composting, organic gardening, red worms, red wigglers, food waste[/tags]

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  1. Hi Bentley!

    Don’t you just LOVE castings? I put a yard of castings in my yard…hehe…and the plants have all been going NUTS! I already have full grown, ripe pumpkins, zuccini plants about 15 yards long…it is amazing! Obviously this is an educational opportunity. If the rest of the world knew about castings, synthetic fertilizers would go away(Sweet)!

    I even met a 94 year old gardener that lives nearby that does his own yard waste composting, and worm composting. You can always tell the gardeners that use natural methods…they have the largest, yields and the freakishly large fruits and veggies!

    Take a look, I took pictures of my friends garden: http://thewormdude.com/worm-blog/johnthe-incredible-94-years-young-gardener/

    • Bentley
    • July 29, 2008

    Yeah for sure Jerry – I have a feeling this stuff is going to explode in popularity before too long!

    I checked out your post about the 94 year old gardener – WOW!!
    You sure that guy isn’t eating the stuff?? He looks like he’s about 25 years younger.

    Anyway – thanks for stopping by, and for sharing that1


    • Allison
    • September 25, 2008

    I have the same thing happening with butternut squash seedlings right now. I put lots of squash waste in the worm bins last winter, then used the compost this spring to repot all my houseplants (I’m an apartment dweller). Now I have squash seedlings popping up EVERYWHERE! But I love squash, so I am not too disappointed. I repotted some of them and they are flowering like crazy, just hope I will get some little squashes out of them this winter. 🙂 Yay for unintended consequences!

    • Bentley
    • September 26, 2008

    Funny you should mention squash, Allison. As it turns out, that’s exactly what my plant ended up being. I just assumed it was watermelon because I remembered putting lots of melon waste in the bed. I forgot that I had put a fair amount of squash waste in there as well.

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