Worm havens

in HiveGarden3 months ago


Worm havens can really benefit your garden.

The Summer heat is punishing to all of us and worms can suffer as much as we do. Those that live in worm farms can be nurtured by a kind worm farmer. Those that live in the wilds of the open garden do it tougher. We can help these hard workers make it through the heat.

Compost worms live in the top 15 cm of the soil where the most oxygen and organic material is. Earthworms can go deeper to escape the heat and maintain moisture but compost worms must stay near the surface, and are more susceptible to the drying effects of Summer. Worm havens are a great compromise that attracts and nurtures worms from all depths.

Regular watering of your garden and adding compost and mulching can help worms in the soil a lot but we make little havens throughout the garden where the worms can congregate and live their wormy lives in peace while the heat rages above. The worm havens can also act as a breeding area where you can top up your worm farms from if populations dip.

Worms come from miles around!

We have 3 ‘worm havens’ around the garden. There used to be 4 but we planted in the space where one was. They are nothing flashy, just some 10 litre plastic buckets with a number of holes drilled in the base and sides. I originally used 20 litre buckets but found that 10 litres is a size that saves considerable labour both in the digging and the maintenance. They are buried in the ground with just the tops showing. The lids are kept on except when they are being cleaned out or topped up.

They're a great way to dispose of harder to dispose of scraps

The worm havens are kept topped up with organic material, just like worm farms. That’s really what they are, just in-ground worm farms but with these, the worms come and go as they please. We don’t need to worry about the leachate, that just drains away if there’s any. We can also use them for disposing of the occasional dog poo and because they’re not touched for long periods, you can use them for meat as well.

Castings and baby worms a plenty!

The worm havens produce worm castings, just as do worm farms but because the moisture is kept constant by the environment, there’s no worry about flooding, compaction or lack of oxygen. Because we add dog poo to them, we only distribute the castings onto the perennial garden and not on our leafy greens or to make worm castings tea. There’s plenty of ‘clean’ castings from the other worm farms for tea making and adding to the bioponics.

You can even put dog poo in them.

The buckets need emptying occasionally. The top 5 or so centimetres, where the worms congregate is gently removed and the castings lower down removed and distributable around plants. The trick that I’ve found is to never empty out all the castings from the buckets but to leave a few centimetres of it in the bottom to encourage the worms in the soil back inside. The top layer with the worms is added back in, then food scraps added, just like in a normal farm.

Feed them like any other worm farm.

Another difference between these havens and worm farms is the frequency and amount of feeding. I only feed one bin every month (and sometimes I forget that!) then cycle through the others over the next weeks. The havens aren’t used as production houses but as a safe bolt hole for compost worm earthworms and other soil biota in the hot weather. The amount of food I put in is also different to the amount I put into regular worm farms. I load the bucket up with heaps if scraps whenever I do feed it. Then forget about it for ages. You don’t need to be as fussy with worm havens as you do the farms. If the worms haven’t enough food or their population gets too large, they just move out into the soil for a while. I like to encourage them out into the garden when conditions aren’t extreme, so regularly skip feeding a haven in the nice weather.

Cover and forget for a while.

In-ground worm havens let the worms come and go at their own pace, they attract both composting worms and earthworms as well as a wealth of other soil critters. They tend to be relatively pest free as many of our garden pests are surface dwellers – they don’t like the subterranean nature of the wom haven and the tightly sealing lid plus a covering of mulch and soil keep most unwanted critters out.

They’re not as ‘efficient’ as above ground worm farms when it comes to making castings for rapid turnover but they have a simple elegance and efficiency of their own. They are a hands off way to add nutrition and life to your soil and can add great resilience to any garden. They can be used as a breeding area for additional worms for your farms and you will know that the worms are as healthy as they can be, having lived full, wormy lives in your garden.





That’s interesting, and I did not know that. I just figured all works go deeper. I’ll remember this!

Ps: Funny how all this is a welcoming site for people like us! Lol

I thought the same at the beginning - the deeper the better!

I like this site for the same reason -so welcoming!

I have always wanted to do this with the pipe with holes drilled in it so they can wriggle in and out. but was worried all the roots would just gravitate there with the lush food.

out main worm farm is having issues and i have managed to let an ANT NEST into it... cries... so not very happy about that at all.. its in the lower tray with the castings not the top tray with the food..

something else i need to try and deal with today so a bit annoyed actually. because the best way to get rid of the ants is not to let them in in the first place right!

nice post

The pipes work a treat. Just make sure that you don't go much below 100 mm in diameter, otherwise the contents get clogged easily and you have to remove the whole pipe to remove the castings when it is time. Less then that is difficult to get youtr hand in and out of too!

Ants can be a bugger, indeed. As you say, its best not to allow them access in the first place but they are tenacious critters and will find a way in when they want. It's interesting that they went for the bottom tray rather than the top. That suggests to me that they'r elooking for a nesting site, not just foraging for food.

100% correct... want a nest.... now what to do about that!!

so annoying lol... i scooped out the next bit as best as i could.. but then i was covered in ants lol

You'll have to dig it all out and turn it over so they work they've done is all disturbed. Sometimes it happens down here but the ants are after moisture rather than food.

Good to see how to grow worms and I think it's not common to practice since their growth depends on very humid or moist area. Secondly some farmers would be thinking that it's on hygienic in the cause of their decomposition. But, we understand how nutritious they give to the soil for crop growth. Apart from this, they are also great products to burrow the soil to aid aeration and percolation of the runoff during rain or irrigation.

My concern is that how long would it take for the worms to grow. Since the compost has to be very decomposed and fermented.

It's more common than you'd think. Every garden that I know of has a worm farm. It only takes a couple of weeks for worms to grow like crazy and a couple of months until you have a population capable of handling almost everything. I have special tips in the subscriber supported section of the worm themed last post on my website https://ligayagarden.online