In Brief: Cold Composting Vs Wicking Worm Beds – Which is Better?
Cold composting and wicking worm beds are two complementary methods gardeners use to ensure that their plants and trees thrive. Compost nourishes your soil and can be used on all of your veggies, fruits, and plants, while wicking worm beds adds moisture to your soil beds in dry seasons or in arid areas. Here we take a look at which is better for you as this depends largely on what your needs are.
Composting is a method of nourishing our gardens, while wicking worm beds are artificial eco-systems we create when water is scarce.
Which one is better, and why? Let’s find out everything about cold composting and wicking worm beds.
Cold Composting Vs Wicking Worm Beds – Which is Better
|Cold Composting||Wicking Worm Beds|
|Purpose||Nourishes the soil||Artificial ecosystem|
|Suitable for||All plants, trees||Dry climates/seasons|
Firstly, it is important to mention that cold composting and wicking worm beds are not mutually exclusive.
Cold composting is a method of creating nourishment for plants by piling up different materials, such as yard trimmings and clippings, and kitchen scraps.
These are left for 1 or more years to decompose naturally. The compost is then used to enrich the soil.
Wicking worm beds are an artificial eco-system that can be beneficial in many situations. If the water is scarce, the rain is infrequent, or plants love moist soil, the wicking beds are ideal.
These are raised garden beds with a water tank that provides moisture to the soil.People add worms to these beds in order to provide aeration and nutrients.
However, as this is a closed, limited eco-system, most gardeners still add compost to the soil. This is because soil adds biodiversity and microorganisms that are natural but missing from the garden bed.
All About Cold Composting
Composting is a method by which gardeners recycle materials that naturally decompose. Cold composting is an effortless way of decomposing materials using only one type.
As opposed to hot composting, which is usually fast, cold composting takes a minimum of one year.
Cold composting requires organic materials, such as soil, leaves, and grass clippings arranged in a pile.
If any kitchen scraps are used, they should be buried inside the heap to deter animals and insects.
Weeds should be avoided as these can germinate inside a cold pile, while meat, dairy, fat, dog, cat, and human waste should also be left out of the cold compost pile.
Other examples of cold compostable ingredients include coffee grounds, tea bags, eggshells, dry goods (flour, spices, crackers), hair, nutshells, seaweed, cooked or uncooked pasta, and even shredded paper.
In terms of benefits, cold composting is often chosen as it does not require any effort. All you need to do is pile up all the materials and leave them to decompose.
This is also a great method if you do not have too much to compost at the moment. You can add what materials are available and add more at another time.
It can also be done all year round.
There are fewer material requirements than hot composting, which should be 3-5 cubic feet at once.
Lastly, many microorganisms survive in a cold pile, including beneficial bacteria and fungi – these are what your plants need to stay healthy.
There are two straightforward steps when it comes to cold composting. Firstly, all the materials need to be put in the pile, and then patience is key.
You may add more materials on the pile as time goes by.
All About Wicking Worm Beds
Wicking Beds are raised plant beds that have a built-in water tank. The water goes into the earth, and it uses very low amounts of water.
It often requires refilling only once per week during a hot, dry summer.
Worms are added to these beds as they burrow into the soil and create paths full of nutrients that can be used by plant roots. They also fertilize the soil, distributing microorganisms and nutrients through the plants.
Additionally, the pathways left by worms are ideal for the distribution of water and air to the plants’ roots.
One disadvantage of the wicking worm bed is that it still remains an isolated eco-system, thus the microfauna remains limited.
A benefit of the wicking worm bed is that it does not require much effort, since the soil does not require digging. The worms prevent the soil from getting compacted, continuously aerating it and populating with microorganisms.
The worm farms can be fed with different kitchen scraps or garden waste.
Wicking beds are beneficial when water is scarce or infrequent. The water reservoir attached to these has enough water to keep the plants alive for a long time, depending on the season and climate.
They are also a good solution for invasive roots that absorb all moisture from the soil, such as those of the Australian eucalyptus.
As it is an artificial system, it also comes with several limitations. For instance, some plants might require a wet-dry cycle in order to grow and thrive, while wicking beds are constantly moist.
This is unsuitable for many plants.
Furthermore, the top layers of the soil of a wicking bed can be quite dry, while the deeper layers are wet permanently.
All in all, you may choose one method or both, depending on your needs. However, if you plan on building wicking worm beds, it might be necessary to add compost to your soil to add necessary microorganisms.