Two weeks ago, I embarked on a project to start composting in my apartment. And although I have yet to dive into the world of vermiculture—composting with worms—this very cool DIY planter is definitely an appealing option.
Hil Padilla, who works with the Kadoorie Conservation China Department, designed this composer/planter when he was working at the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden in Hong Kong.
The worm bin is in the center, and that’s where you can feed the system with your food scraps. In this version, it’s a kind of metal bucket pierced with holes—but really you could use any kind of container that you can drill holes into. Around the outside is more soil, planted with herbs or flowers of your choosing. The moisture levels that are ideal for the worms are the same as the moisture levels that are ideal for the plants, but any liquid that’s produced by the compost will be absorbed by the soil and nourish the plants.
Here are the details Padilla shared with TreeHugger:
“We use 40-60 cm diameter flower pots (depending on what is suitable to the household based on the amount of kitchen waste generated and the space in their patio). Then you put in the middle a perforated container that will serve as the worm bin (either made of plastic or metal one like in the photo). Be sure to leave a space on the sides and bottom for the soil where you could plant your herbs. The soil around will absorb any seepage from the worm bin, a very good fertilizer with readily available nutrients for the plants.
A cover would come handy to avoid flies, but it is not necessary. When you put in smelly stuff that attracts flies, like fish entrails, just bury it under the bottom of the worm bin and cover it with soil and composted materials in the bin. In a few days it will be eaten by the worms. When the bin is full of decomposed materials, you could take it out as potting medium.”
This planter/composter combo is great for small spaces. It would be ideal for any small patio or terrace, or even a sunny spot in an apartment. While it’s obviously not too complicated to make yourself, there might even be a market for a pre-made version.
“It was designed to be a DIY thing,” Padilla writes. “But it would be great if somebody could pick it up and commercialize it.”