Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
April, 2010
Regional Report

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These are my worm tubes, ready for the worms.

That's Right - Worm Tubes!

I was made aware of an invention this week that absolutely amazed me. Evidently several people have been using "worm tubes" in their gardens. The premise is to have a place actually in the garden into which you can put vegetable scraps; the worms then come into the bottom of the tube, eat through the scraps, and move out into the garden to deposit their castings.

Use Those Vegetable Scraps Fresh from the Kitchen
The worm tube sounds like a great idea, not only to encourage worms to find their way into the garden, but as a way to be able to use their castings. And it's a great way to use those kitchen scraps, especially if regular composting is not your thing.

Construction Methods
I did a little research and there is information out there with several different methods for creating these tubes. One source used metal drain pipe, another used large plastic pots glued or wired together at their tops. The bottoms were cut out and the bottom pot was drilled with holes. This style will take a considerably larger hole, but it gives you the option of adding more vegetable scraps.

Use Recycled Materials
If you decide this might be something you want to try, look around for recyclable material with which to construct your tube. I happened to have some odd lengths of six-inch PVC drain pipes up in the garage rafters- just the ticket. I cut my pipes into three-foot sections with a circular saw (a hacksaw might also work, but mine wouldn't go through a six-inch diameter pipe).

Cap Your Tubes
Then I drilled one-inch holes in the bottom foot of the pipes with a hole saw. I was going to paint the top two feet of the pipes with black paint so they wouldn't be quite so noticeable sticking up in the garden, but I decided that my gray pipes didn't look too bad. The tops need to be covered to keep out flies. You can purchase PVC caps, but I decided to scrounge a bit first to see what I could come up with. Terra cotta plant saucers seemed like a good solution, but they can get knocked off if they are too large. So I've settled on small terra cotta pots with a piece of screen covering the drain hole. They are heavy enough to stay in place and actually don't look bad. Lighter weight lids would need a rock on top to keep them from blowing off. One of the added benefits of having these tubes sticking up in the garden is that they will function as bird perches. Having insect-eating birds find a ready place to sit and watch for prey is an added bonus.

Be Ready for Composting
Mine worm tubes are in the garden now. I put a little finished compost in each one, added some kitchen scraps and then a bit of soil. Now I can sit back and watch, knowing my kitchen waste is being worm-composted.

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