How To Make a DIY Worm Tower

Brad Rowland
Thursday, 3rd March 2011

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)

Shovel

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.

How To

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

Add compost

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. Here is one about composting dog or cat poo in a worm tower:

 Happy vermiculturing!

Visit Brad's website, highlyuncivilized.com

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LMcLarnon |
March 4, 2011 - 5:30am

Saw this via the Facebook page, brilliant idea, I've only got raised beds in the back yard so I'm looking forward to giving this a try.

msbdc |
November 19, 2013 - 11:28pm

To actually come up with something so unique and that too in the process of vermicomposting is commendable on its own.

Your worm tower really stands out. Just the other day chanced upon http://www.happyworms.ca , did seem like a different site altogether, have a look !

Ant Cheshire |
October 27, 2014 - 3:18am

Those tubes remind me of ones I used a lot in a drawing office for posting rolls of drawings. They were made with card or plastic, and came with end caps. They're still sold: most are card nowadays (search 'drawing tube postal') (in my day they did a some plastic), but they do plastic ends.
I suppose there's the option of carpet tubes, in cardboard, for which you are more likely to need inspiration to stop up their bigger diameter. They'd be a degradable option, that you could leave in until past it.

Brad Rowland |
October 27, 2014 - 3:51am

This project was in my last garden in California. We're just setting up now in Colorado with a much larger yarden space. I'm almost done with a 65' hugelkulture bed and was going to put some of these worm towers about every 10'.

If you come up with a workable bio-degradable option for the tubes, please post here.

Thanks!

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