This is an update and review on the function of the strawberry barrel project with vermi-compost tube that was planted a few months ago with 3 types of strawberries and home compost. The plants looked great for several weeks and produced well. But I overloaded the vermi-compost tube with too much rotting food at once. The tube went anaerobic fast (too wet and encouraged the wrong microbial work force) and the strawberries on the lower levels burned from the soil chemistry change.
So, the clean out plug at the bottom of the tube was utilized to take all the muck out and start all over. Would highly recommend not omitting that removable clean out plug if you plan on making this! Although removing the sour slop out of the tube improved the plants in the upper levels – it was too late for the lower levels. All of those strawberries burned and died.
But, shortly after the clean out, volunteers sprung out of the home compost and, as shown below, there are now several sunflowers, parsley and a large tomato taking over. I have tucked in a few bok choy starts as well in what was the “dead zone.” so far, all seems to be readjusting, but a great error to add too much food waste at once.
Now I have added a large clump of worms from a healthy bin and have been S L O W L Y adding scraps along with shredded paper to keep from getting too wet. Watering this system has been problematic as things tend to dry out fast at the top and drain slowly at the bottom. Perhaps more sand or vermiculite should have been added in the compost mix at the bottom when planting to help with drainage. It is possible that drilling larger drainage holes at the bottom would help out too.
But not a total loss, despite the overload, as I have been harvesting parsley and strawberries from the upper levels. The bok choy on the lower portion look vigorous and with one plant per pocket should give a good crop as well. The monster tomato may turn out to be best part of the error as the black plastic seems to be giving good heat. Stay tuned…