Worm tower, with lettuce seedlings growing around it.

Something new I have done out in the garden this year is a series of “worm towers.”

Like keyhole gardening, lasagna gardening, hugelkultur, or sheet composting, worm towers are a way to integrate composting in to your growing space, creating a biodynamic environment that is rich in nutrients and beneficial microorganisms, as well as an environment that is welcoming to soil-tilling worms.

I built my worm towers with leftover plastic piping, as well as cardboard tubing, and a handheld drill.

The towers can be made of almost any durable material (my cardboard towers disintegrate after a season, but the PVC pipe will last for years), and should basically consist of a half-buried tube or bucket, with holes large enough so worms can enter and exit. It is best to cover the top of the tower with an inverted pot to discourage rodents or birds from digging in it.

You add compost from the top, and the worms break it down and carry it out through the holes and open bottom, leaving rich casings from which the neighbouring plants to derive nutrition.

If you have a dog or cat, I would encourage you to install a worm tower. Though not safe to vermicompost in food-producing beds, pet waste can be disposed of in a worm tower that is located in a lawn or ornamental garden. If you have a problem with folks leaving pet waste in your area, you can install a worm tower, as well as a “pooper scooper" (on a chain so nobody steals it), and encourage people to place the waste in the worm tower, all the while not using plastic bags.

Diagram: Ecofilms Australia

Dog photo: Bay OK

#garden hacks #DIY #permaculture #compost #vermicomposting #worms

As part of our series on composting, we offer this handy illustrated guide to composting in your apartment. If you have been thinking you might be interested in taking the plunge into composting, read on and have fun! Our guide gives you all of the tools you need to get started. Composting can be a rewarding experience in efficiency and self-reliance. Waste not, want not!

I was just thinking about this as I planted my herbs!!!

Coffee as Fertiliser

In Scandinavia, we have a high rate of coffee consumption, the highest per capita in the world, in fact. As such, leftover coffee and coffee grounds are a gardening resource that is available in abundance here.

So far, I have found it works in the following ways:

LIQUID COFFEE (leftover)

  1. Collect, and allow 2-3 days to ferment outdoors in a watering can; dilute with water and apply to high-nitrogen demanding crops like lettuce and corn


  1. Spread around delicate crops to repel insects of all sorts, but especially to repel slugs and snails around leafy vegetables.
  2. Spread around flower beds to repel cats, rats, and dogs.
  3. Mulch into the soil in large quantities around acidic soil-loving plants like rhododendrons and blueberries. Research has shown coffee grounds actually lean towards neutral pH as they decompose, so mix with a shredded leaf mulch such as oak to get a higher level of acidity. Either way, it’s high in nitrogen (10%).
  4. Used coffee grounds are usually sterile; they can be used to grow edible mushrooms.
  5. Worm food! Coffee grounds are a big hit in the vermicomposter.
  6. Sheet mulch in vegetable beds to deter fungal diseases: coffee grounds host their own fungal colonies, which suppresses other fungal growth (and diseases like damping off, blight, etc.)

#garden hacks #compost #soil #coffee #mulch #pests

Do you use coffee in the garden?


Students Design Home Heated by Compost

Students at Waseda University have designed and built an innovative house that produces its own heat through agricultural fermentation. During the cold months, dried straw is composted in acrylic cases within the house using the low-odor Japanese “bokashi” method. The fermentation naturally heats up the house by generating 30° celsius heat for up to four weeks.

read more: http://inhabitat.com/japanese-students-create-straw-home-heated-by-agricultural-fermentation/


Microbial Homes

In this day and age we are increasingly confronted sustainable living with the appeal. Therefore should Particularly in urban areas of the compost heap in the apartment are. Hard to imagine. But with ‘Microbial Homes’ is now proven that green living can take place in a small space and does not have to give up style.Hand in hand they can change our lifestyle.

During the Dutch Design Week (DDW) five kitchen concepts of the Dutch group were Philips and the Vision of Design and Innovation Team Director Clive van Heerden presented. All models are based on the basic idea to work as a biological machine. What we normally throw in the trash, is in the ‘Microbial Homes’ recycled, filtered or processed further. The goal is to combine energy, food preservation, waste, electricity supply, a healthy lifestyle and design so as to obtain the maximum benefit. The all-rounder of kitchen islands even manages methane (fuel gas) of solid bathroom waste and vegetable peelings to produce and reduce using plastic molds. Thus giving the ‘Microbial Homes’, as cyclical ecosystems, almost everyone the opportunity to live sustainably - including visual added value.

Compost-Heated Outdoor Shower

By Anneli Carter-Sundqvist

We build the compost pile 6 feet at the base and 6 feet tall, using natural materials found right here: seaweed, grass cuttings and wood chips. We layer the materials flat like a stack of pancakes so it takes the shape of a cylinder. We use a 100 foot roll of 1/2 inch black water line and as we build the pile we lay one circle – about two and a half feet in diameter – of the pipe between every 6-8 inch layer of material. The pile quickly heats up to 140 to degrees 150 Fahrenheit and that thermophilic process is what will heat up the water in the pipe. The small pipe diameter allows the water to pick up the heat even more efficiently and it makes for a flexible line that is easy to work with.