Notes on a Tiny Garden Project

My girlfriend and I were aggravated at having to constantly throw food scraps into the garbage. We thought surely there must be a better use for all that extra food.

So we purchased these little guys.

Red Wigglers
Red Wigglers

We constructed an excellent habitat for them in a grey tote in corner of our kitchen.

Tote in the corner
Tote in the corner

Worms are the easiest pet you will ever have and they will convert food waste into incredibly nutrient rich castings (worm poo).

It is so fertile in here that these things sprouted with virtually no light.
It is so fertile in here that these things sprouted with virtually no light

After three months we had around 40 pounds of castings simply from putting our food scraps in a bin and covering them with bedding.

Happy worms making castings
Happy worms making castings

The question now: What to do with a tote full of worm castings? Not such an easy prospect in a tiny, yard-less apartment in Oakland.

What to do with all these castings?
What to do with all these castings?

The one outdoor space to which we have access was a small communal deck–we decided to build a tiny greenhouse to utilize the castings.

The green house consisted of a window we found on the side of the road, wooden boxes and bricks from a salvage yard and leftover straw from the horse track. We traded an afternoon of work at an urban farm for seed trays and soil. We mixed the worm castings 50/50 with potting soil to make the best possible conditions for our seeds to germinate.

A tiny tiny greenhouse
A tiny tiny greenhouse

The seeds we obtained for free at a local seed library: tomatoes, dill, tobacco, mint, basil, cilantro and peppers.

Due to the space limitations we could only select the plants that were doing the best. We transferred the tomatoes, dill, basil and peppers into three 5 gallon buckets hanging over the edge of the balcony.

Eden planting
Eden planting
A hanging garnded
A hanging garnded

By feeding our leftover food to worms we harnessed what would have been wasted nutrients and used them to support a small, delicious crop.

A goal for a well-managed farm is to import as few inputs as possible from off site. This tiny example shows how it is simple, and actually quite fun, to apply this principle in your own home.

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