Garden – November – 3

Willow Garden is a series exclusive to the Earthly Comforts blog only.
Earthen Tales Directory
Main Image – Positive Suze
I know what you are thinking and yet this is Suze informing me to prepare for the first step and not to swivel! She has such a sense of humour at times and always welcomes the opportunity of having her photo taken …. as this photo clearly displays!!

Stage Four Preparations
Sunday 20th November 2022

It was decided some time ago that the system we had for the worm farms was wrong. I have written about it briefly in a few posts, but it will be in another series where l address it fully.

Verticle worm farming does work but doesn’t harvest as well as horizontal worm farming. More flat space and less depth is a much better way to gather from than less surface area and more depth, especially if you wish to collect or harvest more than twice a year which we will have to do if we are looking to sell worms and vermicast and make a profit.

The inspiration to make worm farming a business came around in December 2021 due to observing how well the worms were doing in the compost heaps. I use the New Zealand compost systems, which are fully enclosed cubicles, and l have a lid attached to the tops, so the entire space is confined. The worms thrived in that environment. From that system was born the verticle-tiered farms.

So for most of 2022, l utilised the new tower block system. A sleeve measured 24x20x6″, and each tower comprised four to six sleeves, awarding a total depth of between 24 and 36 of soil”.

Despite what some farmers might say, the worms DID well in these depths, but there were considerable weaknesses.

Harvesting and harvesting continuation and sieving and sifting became backbreaking chores. Also, the bases were not raised but sat on the ground, meaning that our worms could escape and earthworms could move in!

A new farming system was needed for more ease. We needed to harvest without breaking our backs and only work with our worm stocks and not every other Tommy, Harry or Dickie worm going!

We also needed to keep the sump off the ground level and introduce new drainage efficiency where possible.

The worms loved the wettest part of the farm, which made harvesting damn awkward! Literally, a needle from a haystack, except mud, is the prime component!

The new farm needed to be:

Less depth – ideal soil depth – 10-12″

More practical space horizontally – Ideally – between 3 – 6 feet in length and 2 – 3 feet in breadth.

Off the ground – to have operational space at waist level

Raised sump – to have a drainage area

We had toyed with the idea of having a raised table and having it made for us. But with the price of wood increasing, that soon disappeared. We then opted to look for something commercial. Which l then found in the style of raised beds.

Our farms must be outside and facing the elements, so they must withstand rain, wind, and so on.

The images above display what l found: deep-root raised flower bed planters. I purchased three, two at 1m and one at 1.8m. These are now our new worm farms for 2023; we can create our own external farm design for improved farming once they are established.

We were waiting for the arrival of good weather to start construction. However, that is still in short supply, so yesterday, Suze and l began to construct the two smaller units inside the patio area of our kitchen.

You can see the large model still in its clear plastic covering, waiting to be built on the floor, but before we begin that, we need to relocate the two smaller beds to the back of the garden, which can’t happen until the internal gummings are completed: drainage, lining, meshing and lid construction.

Once in the final location, then and only then can the soils and the wormy residents be transferred into the smaller units from the existing tower farms and then the last raised bed can be constructed and sited into the end of the garden.

Once the farms are sorted out, the Willow garden will be complete. The worm farms will only need to be handballed again in March next year with the first harvest.

I am looking forwards to this phase being completed.

Small raised beds now new worm farms constructed. These will need meshing, lining and having drainage and ventilation added as well as having trellis lids constructed.
Outside under tarp awaiting further construction works on Tuesday [well providing the weather is kind].

Thanks for Reading – See you next time.
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17 thoughts on “Garden – November – 3

  1. I hate to raise questions, but if it should be an issue, I guess it’s better to address it now than after they are operational. For some reason I feel worried the worms will freeze with this set up, Rory. In winter they will be surrounded by cold air on all sides, including underneath. Whereas before, in the old environment, they could burrow down deeper, they cannot do so in the new one. Before, they had decomposition of the compost material to keep them warm, will their new environment have that ability also?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Betty 🙂

      Perfectly good questions and l have answers.

      I will be writing about this soon enough, however.

      The worms for the farms are mostly wrigglers, so they only really live in a depth of 8 – 12″ of soil, mostly the 8″ mark, whilst earthworms need a much fuller depth of between 18 -36+” pending the species.

      The wrigglers are a surface dweller, so as long as they have some kind of bedding to feed in like leaves they are always happy. If things get too cold they will burrow down to the 8″ mark.

      The worm bins are quite well insulated and are in fact not much more different to the current system with the exception of not being based on the ground.

      The drainage area is a multilayered system:

      Read the list below like layers going upwards towards the surface.

      The raised bed is 15″ deep overall.

      1] Wooden base 2″ thickness
      2] 2 mm wire drainage – screen mesh
      3] 1″ battening to raise the floor slightly which is where the drainage is but also allows for ventilations to rise through the earth.
      4] 2 mm thick pond liner base.

      Now this liner is secured to the battens and there is only one square hole which leads to the drainage area. The thickness of the liner also serves as a cushioning against any cold air that might rise from the bottom [although in very cold weather skirts can be attached to the legs of the bed to stop wind]
      5] 1″ layer of 10 mm pea gravel [this aids drainage]
      6] 1 mm thick weed membrane mat which sits atop of the gravel
      7] 10″ of compost soil and leaves and shredded paper mixture
      8] 1 mm thick weed membrane which then sits on top of the worms feeding area
      9] Topped off with a hessian blanket.

      Truth is, as far as worms go, they will be pretty warm.

      The box is also lined on the sides with the 2 mm thick liner to a depth of 8″. They should be quite snug 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, wonderful! Truth be known, I think I was as concerned for you and Sue having future challenges in this regard as I was for the worms, Rory. I should have known you had covered all the bases. Thank you so very much for setting my mind as ease.

        Hope you are feeling better by now and the weather is cooperating. I had a talk with the rain Gods and they agreed to let up and let the Sun have a go for awhile. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hey Betty, questions are always welcomed.

        I wanted to make sure we were covered and that the worms wouldn’t be suffering.

        The current tower system is a good system for two types of worm wrigglers and earthworms or surface dwellers and deep digger shovellers, however the worms l am looking to sell are wrigglers [surface dwellers]. Where the current system is faulty is because it is based to the ground and the soil atracts the earthworms from the garden.

        The new system will not allow for earthworms to join the farms.


        We had sun today, good job Betty 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Ha!Ha! Always glad to be of service, Rory! 😊

        I do love hearing the details of your various adventures, Rory, and find them most interesting. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions! What is that old saying? Inquiring minds want to know? 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Yet again impressive – you have not been doing for very long but look how much you know and do 😮👍

    I do not have a compost – mine would be on fire for sure lol

    I would overly neglect it because I am busy

    Liked by 1 person

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