Our Permaculture Life: Worm Towers - a quick and easy way to turn food waste into garden fertiliser - without digging or turning.

Worm Towers - a quick and easy way to turn food waste into garden fertiliser - without digging or turning.

Australian's typically throw away 20% of the food they buy - that' one out of every 5 shopping bags full.  In one year, Australian's waste $8 billion of food. Sadly much of this food waste ends up in our bins. I was appalled to hear that up to 40% of our garbage bins are filled food.  The financial, social and environmental costs of this are high.

My boys are starting to get bigger now, so I don't often have leftovers at the dinner table.  Leftovers however don't ever go to waste - they are lunch the next day or incorporated somehow into the next dinner.  Every single scrap from my kitchen is in high demand. I separate the food scraps - some for the chooks, some for the compost and some for the worms.

There are lots of ways to easily process food scraps into compost, but the easiest way I know, for even the most squeamish and reluctant gardeners is, to turn the food scraps into fertile garden soil using a worm tower .

Compost worms are VIPs at our house  - turning food scraps into fabulous fertiliser - creating healthy soil, for healthy plants, and therefore for healthy food for the family.  

A simple worm tower is a pipe buried 400mm into the ground with holes drilled into the underground section for the worms to move through. The food is posted down the tube to them. A bonus is that the worms can retreat if it gets too hot.

The bonus of worm towers is that they don't require turning, digging, or actually any need for handling the worms and castings.  The worms process the scraps and take their casting directly to the roots of the plants.  A worm towers is a simple way improve fertility without double handling - the worms do the work where you need them to be.

I space my worm towers about 3 metres apart. They are excellent too in raised garden beds. It is important to put in a few handfuls of compost worms (blue, red, tiger worms) into the tower to really get the system powering.

Our three worms towers receive a bundle of food every couple of weeks. I always add a couple of handfuls of mulch or shredded paper on top to prevent flies, then replace the lid (an upturned pot).  I also regularly add in coffee grounds.

A newly installed worm tower.

The same worm tower many months later - working away silently in the middle of the garden.
Worm towers work well too in herb gardens
Some other ways to reduce food waste: 

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