Tower Tip: Emptying the Compost Tube

Tower Tips: Emptying the Compost Tube
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Want to know what to do when your compost tube is full? Join resident Garden Tower 2™ Vertical Gardening System expert and master gardener Kristi Armes as she demonstrates how to empty the compost tube. This video was originally broadcast on Facebook Live on May 19, 2018.

The worms in the compost tube consume the scraps you feed them which creates rich compost and “worm tea”. Both are full of nutrients and can be placed back into the tower or used elsewhere in your garden. It’s best to empty the tube every thirty or forty days in order to keep plant roots from growing into the tube. Worm tea should be poured back into the tower within a few hours of it collecting for maximum nutritional potency.

Put fresh scraps in the tube a week before you plan to empty it. This will draw the worms upward and you’ll be able to remove them when you remove the compost.

To get started emptying the compost tube, you’ll need a pair of gloves and three buckets. Remove the gate above the drawer and set it aside. Take off the tube cap, being careful not to damage the surrounding plants.

Wearing gloves, reach into the tube and pull out the top layer of material. It should contain worms and undigested scraps. Put this in a bucket.

Some compost may fall into the drawer, and some compacted material may remain in in the tube. Use a broom handle or similar object to push it down into the drawer.

Sometimes, the finished compost contains worms. Place a colander over an empty bucket and extract the worms. Put the worms with the others in the first bucket. Empty the finished compost into the bucket.

It’s not unusual for the compost tube to contain finished compost as well as undigested material. Sort through this and place any worms in the worm bucket. Place the undigested material in the last bucket.

When you’ve sorted everything, slide the drawer and gate back into their slots. You can tell which side is up, as the ribs on the gate indicate which side is up. Return the undigested material and the worms to the tube.

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