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Banana Plant Soil, Additives, and Fertilizer This forum is an area where you may discuss the soil to grow banana plants in, as well as soil additives such as teas, composts, manures, fertilizers and related topics.


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Old 01-03-2010, 06:17 PM   #61 (permalink)
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Default Re: Vermicompost and vermicomposting

You are right about summer tomatoes--even here in North FL we are usually done by July. I tried brandywine, but I like a more acidic tomato. My favorite for flavor is better boy, but I tried an old variety called arkansas traveler and like it. I am always looking for tomatoes that will produce longer into our summer. I do need to get some seeds started.
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Old 01-03-2010, 06:23 PM   #62 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Vermicompost and vermicomposting

I've got two new ones this year, a "church" and a "Belgian giant". If they don't get nailed by a frost this week I'll let you know how they turn out when I get fruit. Good Luck. Eric
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Old 01-15-2010, 01:26 PM   #63 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Vermicompost and vermicomposting

everything not picked got nailed in the "big freeze". I'm going to try again for the spring season. We'll see what happens... Eric
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Old 01-16-2010, 12:59 PM   #64 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Vermicompost and vermicomposting

I've stacked a lot of cardboard on my pile, and put corn, coffee grinds, and winter wheat in between the layers. Much of the grain has trichoderma, penicillin, yellow slime mold, yeast, and cobweb mold. I inoculated it with oyster mushroom mycelium, and it's taking off. The worms have move into all of the new substrate, and may very well take care of the contams, but not the slime mold.

I know that the oyster mushroom is omnivorous, and ensnares nematodes and small soil insects. I wonder if it's capable of trapping newly hatched earthworms?
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Old 02-02-2010, 10:37 AM   #65 (permalink)
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Default Re: Vermicompost and vermicomposting

Answer to the quote below: I think that oyster mushroom (provided that it's large enough), can trap freshly hatched earthworms, they are really tiny. The smallest I've seen so far measured only 2mm (0.08in)

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Originally Posted by Lagniappe View Post
I know that the oyster mushroom is omnivorous, and ensnares nematodes and small soil insects. I wonder if it's capable of trapping newly hatched earthworms?

Okay, time to revive this thread. I've been composting for almost half a year now and (sadly) still haven't build the home for my worms yet. But I'm about to soon, so here's some pics how those worms have been living since July last year. Many books and websites say that it's beneficial to use bedding from cardboard or cut paper, I used layers of thin, yet large pieces of cabbage, salad... and no problems so far.

They are hidden in the basement (one of the outter rooms of the basement) in complete darkness and temps ranging -1°C - 10°C (30°F - 50°F). Darkness is essential since intensive light, even that of camera frightens them and causes their exoskin, exo... whatever to break down, leaving them defensless to painful and slow death.



I prepare some new food for them cirka every 4 days - when the bin I keep inside is full enough or starts to smell funny (meaning that it starts to rot. Surprisingly, rotting food, once it is close to the worms, doesn't give off any odor and smells deliciously, like freshly mowed grass, I think it has something to do with enzymes those worms use to prepare, digest and process the food with.). The plant material is chopped into small cubes or rather rectangular shapes before I toss t on the pile. This helps the worms to process it faster. If I cut it into even smaller pieces, they would get rid of this pile even faster (but why spend so much time slicing the rotting food, ay?).




Watering is also very important. When I go down to feed the worms, I usually take 3 bottles x 2L with me to water the pile. It has to be moist, but not wet. You're doing it wrong, if earthworms try to get out of the pile (it's either too dry or too wet).



Some pictures of the pile with the flash on...





Just below the top layer you can find thriving society that however escapes deeper into the pile before I take my camera out, but as you can see, there are many generations feasting at once. You see the oldest earthworms (with red coat and slightly purple neck), young worms (red exoskeleton or whatever it is) and the youngest babies (white). You can see that the amount of young worms compared to the adults is astonishing. If this new generation procreates within 2 months, I might just as well build 2 big processing bins, 'cause one will not be enough. Dark matter below the worms is pure vermicompost (temperature inside the compost is 5°C or 10°F warmer than on the outisde). I intend to use it for seed germination and to improve the initial growth of young seedlings (tomatoes, naners, palms...) and to kick start their growth very early in the season.




Black Gold (the way I use this term) is used for watering. Several of my bananas get dormant, when they are outside. Not with this liquid they don't. 1L of Black Gold and every naner starts growing at much faster rate than before. Dormant plants wake up almost instantly. It's like putting a man on steroids, he just keeps doing something and using the extra energy. So do the plants.




* So much from me for now, any questions...? Oh, I forgot to mention: this is the reason, why my cousins are no longer afraid of bugs and worms. 3 days of taking care for these babies did the trick.

** I intend to sketch a new home (improved in many ways and reaching for perfection) for my babies soon. I'll also post sketches and construction pics, when I kick myself to doing it.

*** Pics were taken with HDMI Camcorder, so sorry if the quality is worse than usual.

**** Btw. girls love looking at creepy little crawling earthworms and if you only do so much as mention that you take care of one big earthworm colony, they will throw your panties at you and burn with desire. Or isn't it because of the colony?
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Old 02-02-2010, 11:08 AM   #66 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Vermicompost and vermicomposting

How are you controlling fungus gnats
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Old 02-02-2010, 12:24 PM   #67 (permalink)
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How are you controlling fungus gnats
I'm not controlling anything. If there's some fungus outbreak, those worms will take care of it. They eat first what is rotten and then start eating fresh food scraps. Only once saw I fungus outbreak there, it was on the inside of one banana skin and the next time I went down (3 or 4 days) it was gone.

Any other fungus pests, worms (pretty much anything that could be there)... are quickly eliminated, the only vermin I can't seem to get rid of are wine flies in summer. They don't live directly in the pile, but fly around and know that something rots there. It can be annoying during feeding, but I found also another effective method of controlling that - birds. U just have to protect the earthworms inside with a cage of some sort and the birds will take care of anything that wants to get inside/outside and doesn't belong there.
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Old 02-02-2010, 07:12 PM   #68 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Vermicompost and vermicomposting

The epidermis is the name for the skin of a worm. It is the outer layer of worm and it secretes a mucous.
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Old 02-02-2010, 07:19 PM   #69 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Vermicompost and vermicomposting

My worms are multiplying like crazy too...

I have them on my back porch. Haven't transferred any to the Can-O-worms yet.
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Old 02-02-2010, 07:45 PM   #70 (permalink)
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Default Re: Vermicompost and vermicomposting

I don't really do vermicomposting, but the way I manage my compost pile I have lots of worms. I am interested in learning if there are other things I can do to enhance their population.

What I do now is keep the pile more or less divided into at least 2 and sometimes 3 separate sections. The worms definitely do not inhabit the new dry material or the hot areas that I get in summer when I start adding fresh grass clippings, but they are numerous in the older sections that are ready for use.
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Old 02-03-2010, 04:59 AM   #71 (permalink)
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Quote:
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I don't really do vermicomposting, but the way I manage my compost pile I have lots of worms. I am interested in learning if there are other things I can do to enhance their population.

What I do now is keep the pile more or less divided into at least 2 and sometimes 3 separate sections. The worms definitely do not inhabit the new dry material or the hot areas that I get in summer when I start adding fresh grass clippings, but they are numerous in the older sections that are ready for use.
Worms (or at least vermiworms such as Eisenia and many other types) process the compost pile quite differently as for example typical earthworms living in the soil. Worms producing vermicompost are not fed by the amount of rotting food, but they eat parasitic, symbiotic bacteria that created a thin layer on rotting food. This is very important, because the red wigglers in fact only eat the becteria with the uppermost layer of the rotting food. Interestingly, this process only helps to speed the decemposition process, probably because the worms intentionally never eliminate the entire microbial flora, but by eating one layer just open another food layer for rotting.

From what I wrote above it is clear, that if there's enough microbial food in one part of the bed, they won't go into a worse part voluntarily. Why worse part?
A) Dry material inhibits and slows down microbial growth, thus meaning that big population of wigglers could actually inhibit the rotting process by eating the entire microflora, or they would have to starve. Add to that the highest tolerated temperature of red worms around 88°F and you get a no go for them (wouldn't you prefer cooler and more acceptable temperatures over extreme highs? ). Also this might be the reason:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Redwormcomposting
Earthworms breathe through their skin and thus need to stay moist at all times. Anyone who has had worms crawl out of their bins will know from experience that they can shrivel up and die relatively quickly, so it is vitally important to make sure that the material in yoru worm bins/beds never dries up – in fact, you should be keeping your bedding as moist as possible.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Redwormcomposting
Research has actually shown that composting worms typically prefer a moisture content higher than that typically recommended for thermophilic composting – even as high as 80-90% (Edwards & Lofty, 1996).
B) Grass cippings... are very dangerous. In general, if you put too many layers of grass clippings mixed with nothing or very small amounts of other food, rotting grass will produce lots of ammonia and the temperature inside the pile while rise exponentially to a point that the pile will give off the heat. Add to this also warmth from the sun and you get a totally no go enviroment for them.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Redwormcomposting
According to Edwards (1988), the optimal temperature range for breeding Eisenia fetida (red wigglers) is 15-20C (59-68F), yet maximum growth (weight gain) occurs closer to 25C (77F).
Quote:
Originally Posted by Redwormcomposting
On the other end of the spectrum are the upper limits for worm survival. Eisenia fetida once again outshines the competition, tolerating bed temperatures reportedly as high as 43C (109.4F) according to Reinecke et al. (1992). That being said, it is definitely best to avoid letting your worm bed temperatures go above 30C (86F) whenever possible, as the success of your worms will decline markedly past this point.

Hope this helps. If you want to make the pile more attractive for them, it must be properly moist, placed in the shade, with temps best around 80°F, filled with rotting watermelons (they love it), tomatoes and other juicy things you can find in the kitchen.

ALSO MAKE SURE THAT THE WORMS INHABITING YOUR COMPOST PILE ARE RED WIGGLERS, OTHERWISE THIS ENTIRE POST IS IRRELEVANT.
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Old 02-03-2010, 10:16 AM   #72 (permalink)
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Default Re: Vermicompost and vermicomposting

Thanks Jack. I did not realize there was such a difference between earthworms and red wigglers. I do add kitchen scraps to my compost pile--I have a gallon container that I have to empty almost every day (mostly peels, cores and coffee grounds), but maybe I should start a separate bin for red wigglers with just the kitchen scraps. Do you think I could put a red wiggler bin directly on the ground? My pile is in the shade of a big magnolia tree--but outside temps here get into the mid to upper 90s in summer and lows into 20s--of course a bin in contact with ground will maintain a more moderate temp.

I need the other compost pile for all the pine straw (very hard to wet), leaves and grass clippings.
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Old 02-03-2010, 10:41 AM   #73 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Vermicompost and vermicomposting

Let me know when you are ready to get started with the red wigglers, when I start using my Can O worms I will separate out some for you to get ya started...

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Thanks Jack. I did not realize there was such a difference between earthworms and red wigglers. I do add kitchen scraps to my compost pile--I have a gallon container that I have to empty almost every day (mostly peels, cores and coffee grounds), but maybe I should start a separate bin for red wigglers with just the kitchen scraps. Do you think I could put a red wiggler bin directly on the ground? My pile is in the shade of a big magnolia tree--but outside temps here get into the mid to upper 90s in summer and lows into 20s--of course a bin in contact with ground will maintain a more moderate temp.

I need the other compost pile for all the pine straw (very hard to wet), leaves and grass clippings.
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Old 02-03-2010, 10:49 AM   #74 (permalink)
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Default Re: Vermicompost and vermicomposting

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... but maybe I should start a separate bin for red wigglers with just the kitchen scraps. Do you think I could put a red wiggler bin directly on the ground? My pile is in the shade of a big magnolia tree--but outside temps here get into the mid to upper 90s in summer and lows into 20s--of course a bin in contact with ground will maintain a more moderate temp.
You can do this, especially in your climate, but outdoor vermiculture is something I haven't tried yet. The bin construction won't have to be so perfect as in the indoor vermiculture case. Needless to say that other problems will arise. You will have to protefct the whatever is in the bin from 2 sides: top and bottom (ideally with net of some sort, maybe metallic?). Top should be protected because any bird would be delighted to taste your worms and bottom because of moles and other soil dwelling creatures.
You could use a structure like this to start with, final bin would be very similar:



What I also saw people doing is to dig a rectangular hole in the ground, cirka 45cm deep and start building the structure from there. Not only that your worms will in winter have some space to hide from frosts, but the entire structure will not be so prone to being damaged by winds and storms.

If I were in your climate with enough space in my garden, I wouldn't even try to build an indoor vermiculture bin. Everything you need is outside.

Quote:
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I need the other compost pile for all the pine straw (very hard to wet), leaves and grass clippings.
I can only advise that. There's however another usage for leaves and grass clippings. Both can be used as mulch and in summer as water insulation, they will hold much of the water below it and stop the water from vaporizing even in the hottest days
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Old 02-11-2010, 07:24 PM   #75 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Vermicompost and vermicomposting

Most fruit and vegetable scraps, egg shells, coffee grinds, tea bags, shredded paper, even some yard waste that has been composted a bit can go in there as well.

What to feed your worms - WormWiki

Vermicompost - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The worms you get from a bait shop may not be the same used for composting.
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Old 02-11-2010, 07:25 PM   #76 (permalink)
 
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thats odd... how did my post get below yours.... lol
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Old 02-11-2010, 07:58 PM   #77 (permalink)
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Default Re: Vermicompost and vermicomposting

OK Jack, I bought a plastic bin like yours and I put it on a screen to prevent moles and I will put a top on it later. I should be able to buy some red wigglers at the local bait shop.

So, my question is, as far as kitchen scraps, are there any things that should not go in there--besides meat trimmings?

I may eventually build a system to collect water that passes thru it when it rains.
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Old 02-11-2010, 08:25 PM   #78 (permalink)
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thats odd... how did my post get below yours.... lol
Wierd! But thanks for the reply--even it it was before I asked! I was just reading an article about time travel in Discover!
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Old 02-11-2010, 08:45 PM   #79 (permalink)
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OK Jack, I bought a plastic bin like yours and I put it on a screen to prevent moles and I will put a top on it later. I should be able to buy some red wigglers at the local bait shop.

So, my question is, as far as kitchen scraps, are there any things that should not go in there--besides meat trimmings?

I may eventually build a system to collect water that passes thru it when it rains.
You should definitely avoid potatoes (they'll eat it only as long as there's nothing else ot eat), bread, too many citruses (reasonable amounts are acceptable, but acids can make more damage than good). Whatever animal products shouldn't go there either.
The list is slightly longer, but in general you can apply the rule: What came from plant production, can be used in vermicomposting. It's just a matter of how well it will rot and how tasty will worms find it to be. From my experience the tastiest food for them are watermelons. Sometimes I put several watermelon scraps into the bin before I went to sleep and they disappeared until the next morning.
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Old 02-11-2010, 09:05 PM   #80 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Vermicompost and vermicomposting

I just have a couple outdoor bins, no vermi bins. Every summer I do get the soldier fly larvae in mine and they seem to decomp much faster when they are there. I am going to try a bin just for them this year and see if I can keep it going over the winter in the garage.
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