Vermicompost planting bed

bashazaborskiApril 1, 2013

Has anyone tried making a raised planting bed on top of the garden soil with some organic base like leaves or straw, lots of vermicompost, some worms and eggs, aged manure, mulch and planting directly into it? As the season goes on more worm food in the form of kitchen scraps etc. and mulch would be added beneath the leaf canopy of whatever is growing? What would you plant....squash, beans, tomatoes? How do you think watering the plants would affect the worms? Would it be too hot? Has anyone tried this?

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equinoxequinox

I'm thinking that next years garden is going to be even better for you than this years garden simply because the material will have had longer than less than a week to breakdown and start working for you. "What would you plant....squash, beans, tomatoes?" I think squash would do very well in this situation but why limit yourself to only beans and tomatoes. Walmart, cough, has 20 cent seed packets. They are not with the Burpee seeds but in the outdoor garden area behind the more profitable items tucked into the way back corner hidden. Ask the sales clerk where they are. For tiny money you can get many varieties of seeds. You are going to be needing organic matter to mulch your soil. Do not let newspapers, egg cartons, egg shells, coffee grounds, old crisper drawer veggies slip away. Rescue them to do work for you in your garden. Be nice to your soil and it will be nice to your plants. Soil wants organic matter. Pile it on. It may take a year to get magic soil. Worms need time to work. Perhaps in the mean time to get growing experience purchase a bag of organic compost to plant in or I'll even look the other way if you purchase a bag of m. grow just to get started.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 12:23AM
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compostgal(9a-CA Sierra Foothills)

I wouldn't use worms in the mix. You will lose the worms when you water the plants and when it rains. Their environment is in a dedicated bin or aged compost or manure pile. When you water, they will have no place to escape to and they do not burrow in the soil.

Your plan is workable, but without the worms. I do the same thing in the fall by laying down a bed of leaves and aged chicken manure. I plant right in that top layer in the Spring and add a handful of worm compost to each transplant. What you will get over the years is an increase in soil worms that will be beneficial.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 12:26AM
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mr_yan

I almost did this but my bed sits on a concrete slab and the worms were an after thought addition. The sidewalls of my bed are 18" deep. I started this bed for the 2010 season and I am at the edge of zones 4 and 5.

I started mine with straw bales as a base. I then placed a layer of compost over that and watered it in. From reading about stawbale gardens I knew it would heat up so I waited a little.

Along the way I tossed two tubs of "trout worms" from gander mtn into the garden. I think these worms happened to be euros but if not they're very similar.

Each fall I have rebuilt the bed soil and mixed in large amounts of pre-composted organic matter and shredded leafs. While I would not consider it a worm bin there are thousands of worms in it and the soil texture feels like worm castings.

Currently most of the bed is planted with garlic but melons, beans, and some greens will be put in there this year. In previous years I have planted this bed with:
green beans
peas
tomatoes
watermelon
cantaloupe
kohl rabi
beets
spinach
lettuce
mustard
lima beans
onions
marigolds

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 7:13PM
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bashazaborski

Thank you for all the great info and advice. For the past 25 years I have had a large worm bin in my basement. This basement bin collects all the kitchen waste, papers, egg cartons etc. I was hoping to use leaves as the main organic matter in the vermicompost planting bed outdoors. There is last year's pile and the pile from the year before to use up. Thirteen acres of trees makes for big big piles. A neighbour has horses and he has piles of aged and fresh manure, he doesn't garden so he's been piling it up for ten years. Those two items are the building blocks. I have 6 - 4x8 raised beds on sandy extremely well drained soil. They've been there for years. They are dry dry dry. Actually, it is the raised weep bed but I don't know where the waste water goes to. It disappears before it gets anywhere near that end of the weep bed. I live alone and one person doesn't make enough kitchen scrap to maintain more than one worm bin - not even enough for a compost pile. My hope was to pile all those leaves every autum into those 4x8 beds with some neighbourly manure and let the worms do their magic over time. I find lots of worms and egg cases in my ornamental gardens so they are managing to overwinter. Now I want to try my hand at growing food again.This might cut down on the work to move those leaves around from lawn, drive and sidewalk, to pile, to compost, to garden. Your replies have been very helpful. Thank you.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 12:23PM
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mendopete

You have a wealth of compostable material and worm food.. Your beds would greatly benefit from piling on leaves and horse manure. I am sure worms would show up.

Some worm farmers in cold climates winterize their outdoor beds. You need a lot of mass, add lots of manure in the fall and mulch VERY heavily with straw or hay (or leaves!) The worms will survive or leave lots of cocoons for hatching next spring.

The worm tower is a another option for fresh castings in the garden. Check out redwormcomposting.com. Lots of good info about cold-weather worming. Bently has also used a "vermin-trench directly in his growing garden.

Get to composting and good luck! Pete

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 6:32PM
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