diy worm tower under decorative rock
A Worm Tower, doesn't look like much but then that's the whole point, it's underground.

Easy DIY Worm Tower To Make Compost

If you haven't heard of the term 'Worm Tower' then you are in for a treat, that it as long as you like composting. It is a form of direct composting where rather than making a big pile of compostable waste and turning it until it is ready to spread back onto your garden you put it in a hole and let the worms do their thing.

Food waste is a big problem in the UK. The fact that we waste so much food is another issue altogether but in this instance we are talking about your left over food. Waste food contains nutrients that your garden needs and not everyone can be fussed or have the room for a compost bin.

worm tower metal mesh
Mesh joined together with garden wire instead of the more popular PVC pipe method.

Below ground composting

The answer is a worm tower, a sort of underground hotel for worms. Sounds expensive? Not if you think about a fiver is too much to spend on improving your gardens soil.

The most common material used to make a worm tower is PVC piping just for the fact that it is easy to get hold of. It involves drilling, cutting and a pipe sticking up out of the ground. Whilst this might not sound too much of a fuss for most people I thought of a different way of doing it.

worm tower made from metal mesh
Wire mesh shaped into a tube.

Wire mesh instead of PVC pipe

I found the standard UK PVC guttering to be too narrow to easily empty food waste into and to hold any decent quantity of waste. There's also the potential leaching of toxins from the plastic and the hassle of having to drill lots of holes in the plastic tube.

Instead I found wire mesh to be a better alternative. It's available widely, lasts a long time, can be reused, already has lots of holes for worms to pass through and doesn't restrict plant roots.

The other reason for using mesh is that it is easier to shape so allows for a wider range of sizes then being restricted to a fixed size pipe. It's also quite cheap to buy.

So how does it work?

You simply place your food waste or any other organic matter in the hole. The worms then feed on it turning it into a fertiliser and spreading it in the soil around the area of the tower. Much the same way as worm composting or vermicomposting. All done underground and out of sight.

If you take a look at the picture at the top of this page you can see a rock. Not too out of place? Blends in quite well? Of course it does, it's a rock which underneath houses our worm tower. Out of sight is better than eyesore.

So how do you make a Worm Tower?

You will need some materials which you are going to have to spend about a fiver on and you will also need a shovel, spade or your favourite digging implement.

First off go out and buy yourself a galvanised mesh panel and some garden wire, both available from any DIY store. You won't need much wire so if you could also use cable ties or strong twine.

Bend your mesh panel so that the opposite sides are together and tie with garden wire. So now you have a metal mesh tube.

Hole for mesh structure
The fun part, digging a hole deep enough for your tube.

Dig your hole

The next step is to dig your hole. It needs to be as deep and as wide as the mesh tube so that the top of your tube is level with the surface of the soil. Keep any worms that you find as they can go back into your worm hotel.

Place in the metal tube and fill any gaps around the outside with soil. Some will fall back into your hole, that doesn't really matter.

mesh placed in hole
Your tower can be 50cm to a metre deep.

Fill with food waste

If you have some food waste, green garden waste, small bits of wood, cardboard, paper, grass trimmings and anything else you want to compost then place it in the hole.

You can mix up your waste so you have a good mix of carbon and nitrogen. Use shredded paper, leaves and other dry material in a layer where you place your worms. It's somewhere nice and dry for them to sleep.

Some people say not to place meat waste or bones on compost as it attracts vermin. As our compost is underground it is OK to compost everything organic as we are going to place a stone on top. Far too heavy for rats and foxes to lift, unless they've been working out.

Cover the top

I have used a stone that I happened to already have in the garden. You can use anything to cover the hole from an old plastic pot to a clay saucer.

Obviously you don't want small animals falling into the hole or someone tripping over the hole so placing something over it makes it more visible. As we have used wire if any small creature should fall into the hole it will have a better chance of being able to climb out again.

There are other reasons I chose a stone rather than any other type of lid:

• A large stone is decorative.
• It stops animals getting into the hole.
• It stops any smells from fresh waste food (composted food doesn't smell).
• Prevents flies being attracted.

What happens to the waste food?

Over time the worms and other friendly garden creatures will break down the food and garden waste. You will notice that the waste gradually sinks down and turns to more of a soil texture.

It is important that the hole doesn't get too hot, cold, wet or dry or it will not be inviting to worms. You can water the hole if you think it is getting too dry.

Should I add worms?

You don't need to go out and buy worms but having more worms at the right depths will break down the waste faster. I just used the worms that I found when digging the hole. If I ever find worms whilst digging in the garden I place them in the hole.

Different types of worm live at different soil depths, there are ones that live a solitary life and ones that live in groups. The worms should be more active inside a worm tower compared to an outside above ground wormery during the colder months as the ground frost will not penetrate all the way down the hole whereas things above ground are more exposed.

Can I have more than one tower?

The worm tower will only service a relatively small area around the tower. The worms will only spread the compost so far to enrich your soil.

You can build as many as you want. It makes sense to have at least 2 so that you can spread the food waste by placing scraps in towers alternately.

Worm tower composting reduces waste

A simple and cheap worm tower is an effective way to compost your food and garden waste. It returns nutrients and fertilises the soil providing food for your garden worms.

A worm tower (or should that be underground worm hotel) takes less than an hour to build and lasts forever. It's easy to just chuck your food waste in the hole and let the worms do the work for you.

Don't forget to like and share to encourage others to compost their food waste.