A worm tower installed in a raised bed
How To Make a DIY Worm Tower
Make composting in your garden a speedy affair with your own worm tower by eliminating a few stages in the composting process. Your garden or yard will love you!
A Worm Tower is basically a length of pipe buried halfway in the ground with holes drilled in the buried part for worms to get in and out. Food scraps are added directly to the tower instead of into your composting bin, and are eaten by worms already living in the target part of your yard. You can add Worm Towers to your full blown vermiculture / vermicomposting regime or just use them by themselves, particularly in raised beds. Several steps and lots of time can be eliminated for some of your composting bysimply delivering food waste directly to the worms, directly on to the garden.
What you need:
Length of PVC about 3 1/2 inches (89mm) or larger wide or if you can get it a length of bamboo – much more ecological
Something to cap the tube with. (I bought some caps but there are other suggestions like a flipped over plastic pot with some screen to keep out the flies
A saw that can cut through PVC
Drill with large drill bit. I used 1 1/8 inches (30mm) but in the videos looks like they use 1/2 inch (13mm)
I had a 9 foot (2.74 metres) length of PVC already, but I did go buy three caps to seal off the top from flies and critters. Before starting this project I was reading about squirrelsbecause several of them like digging in my garden. I was concerned that putting the compost into the garden might be an attraction, and it might, but I did learn that they can only smell about 6-8″ (152-203mm) under the surface of the ground. I took this into consideration when measuring out my pipe hole placement and my notes reflect that. Your results may vary.
Cut the pipe into roughly 3 foot (.91m) sections. Drill holes in the bottom 12 inches (304mm) of the pipe – drill lots of holes
Bury the pipe in the garden about 22 inches (558mm) , which leaves a 10 inches (254mm) smell barrier for the squirrels and about 14 inches (355mm) exposed
I primed mine with a shovel full of worms from our big wormaculture bin
It's very simple, but the video below gives you some step-by-step instructions if you're a visual learner.
A couple of side notes, I'm only adding compost to the towers that will easily break down, so no twigs, eggshells, etc. I'd like the worms to be able to completely digest the muck I put in and I'll leave the heavier stuff for the compost bin. One of the videos recommends an occasional deep watering which should wash away the goo and deep water your plants. I spent about 30 minutes trying to take apart an old air filter for the filter material for the fly barrier but this was a complete waste of time. The filter material is glued to the cardboard and interwoven with screen – just a mess. That's why I bought some proper caps. It reminded me though that I should save some of the (very) raggety clothes we've recycled to use for filter material.
There are lots of Worm Tower videos on YouTube, but the initial inspiration for me came from this video below.
For a really useful guide to this subject see Composting With Worm (postage free in the UK)