Forays into frugality…worm composting

Well, I have been wanting to garden more this summer but one thing that kept me from doing a larger garden last summer was the cost.  I know, surprising, huh?  It’s supposed to be cheap to garden! However, there IS a start  up cost for everything, and the biggest start up cost for me was the planting medium.

I am using the Square Foot Gardening method for numerous reasons.  But our terrible soil is one of the main ones.  SO, last year my son built me 3 different size raised beds.  One 1’X8′ for tomatoes and peppers, one 2’X8′ and another 4’X8′. this was going to be what I started with to see how much I could “put by” for winter as well as use for summer eating.

Making the beds was inexpensive (cost <$20 for the boards) BUT providing the 3 parts for the planting medium was NOT.  There is supposed to be equal parts compost, peat moss and vermiculite.  Well, it turns out that compost (here in a rural community) is NOT easy to come by and it is VERY expensive!  And the vermiculite was not easy to find either — I purchased some in small bags only to find out (afterward) that another garden company had it in much larger quantities for less.  (I had contacted them first but an ill-informed worker had no idea what I was talking about and insisted they had none…moral: always ask for the manager or owner!)

It cost me $75 for the compost, vermiculite and peat moss to fill ONLY the 1X8 box!! So, last year, that was the only one I planted.

I planted only tomatoes and peppers; I chose heritage plants for all of them. None of the 4 pepper plants survived, 5 of the 7 tomato plants survived and I wasn’t fond of the tomatoes at all.  There was no burst of harvest.  I had a continual production but never enough to can a full canner’s worth at a time.  So this year I’m looking at seeds to start seedlings in the next week or so for plants.  More on that later.

I’m hoping that via this worm composting (done in my basement, which I’ll write about as I go along) will help to get some good compost going until I can add another outdoor compost pile with our grass clippings come spring.  Perhaps this will give enough compost to add our 2×4 raised bed into production this summer along with my tomato bed.

I have friends who are counseling me (yes, I probably DO need counseling when I’m planning on putting 2000 worms in my basement!!!) on this project but I still feel very intimidated.  BUT my goal for 2011 was to be able to reduce my grocery budget for basic necessitites and this is part of the long haul.  I’m hoping this Worm Money will be money well spent come September and winter!

More updates when the worms arrive!

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  1. Don and the older boys had worms for several years. He used to make “tea” from the compost to water his garden with. He could probably help with any questions you may have. He also does square foot gardening. Unforunately, the whole thing drown last year.

  2. Thanks, Barb! I’ll definitely keep that in mind!


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