So I’ve been conducting a little test recently to see how quickly and what it would look like to see my red wiggler worms attack an avocado that was getting past ripe and was going to have to be thrown away. I really expected the red wigglers to just go crazy on this avocado and day to day see really big differences. That is what happened months ago when I added a partially eaten peach, so I thought it would be true this time too.
The thing is they really are paying my avocado very little attention at all. In the first week is seemed that if they were even touching it, it must have been slightly. Then I went out of town for a bit and today when I opened the lid I was hoping to see that they really got into it and only the pit was left. Once again I was disappointed though. I really don’t think they have even given it a bit of attention!
The saving grace here is I still think it’s kind of interesting to see what happens when an avocado rots, even if my original intention was to see what it looks like to see an avocado eaten.
So I’ll continue to take pictures and update them here on the blog. When it’s run it’s course I’ll probably do a new post with all the days pictures so you can see the progress all in one place just by scrolling down.
My next step is going to be to add an apple to the bin. A fresh one I think. And see if the worms get after it. I just can’t tell if they didn’t like it because they don’t like avocado or if they don’t like it because it was all ready starting to rot. But they are worms, I feel like the rotting aspect isn’t really going to effect them too much.
OK so now it has been a full week and still the red wigglers don’t seem to really be paying this poor avocado enough attention. I mean here it is dead and rotting and just begging to be eaten up, but still I don’t see much action. I mean there have certainly been some changes to the avocado over the week but most of them are due to the rotting process and it doesn’t appear to have much to do with the worms.
Take a look at the difference between day 1 and now day 7…
The big things I notice are the brown spots that bloomed all over the surface as well as some of the white mold which I’ve been calling Santa’s beard. Past that I guess there isn’t really a whole lot to see. I’m still baffled as to whether these worms are just picky eaters or if there is something more going on. I’m actually heading out of town tomorrow for about a week. When I get back I’ll check the avocado again and see what’s doing? If it still looks like the worms aren’t really showing and interest I’m going to add and apple to the bin. If they really go after the apple and not the avocado that will be pretty showing.
Ok so I got busy and missed the picture of the avocado on day 4. However I did make sure to snap a picture on day 5 and again today on day 6. As it turns out there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot to see. Most of the changes so far have more to do with the avocado rotting and less to do with the worms eating it. I really thought he red wigglers would have ravaged the avocado by now, but there really isn’t much to see on that front.
I mean I guess even just seeing the different stages of rotting is plenty to see but why are the worms not seeming to be interested? It is possible that they entered the avocado from the bottom and I just can’t see, but I don’ think so. I could just pick it up and check but I’m really trying not to touch it at all to let it run it’s natural course. So for now I guess we’ll just see the natural stages of rotting. Even Santa’s beard looks less like a beard now and more like a white stain on a rotten avocado, lol.
As you can see while it certainly looked rotten it doesn’t really seem to be changing all that much from day to day. Not I’m not really sure if they don’t like avocados or if they don’t like rotten food, neither of which I would have though would have been an issue for a couple thousand red wiggler worms.
For now I’ll keep going with teh avocado since the observation in all ready in motion. If nothing really seems to come from it then I’ll try the same thing with a fresh apple (it’s apple picking season here in the Northeast so I’ve got no lack of apples :). If they really get after the apple then I guess it’ll be fair to assume they like apples and not avocado. I’ll know I have picky worms…who knew 🙂
So now we are onto day three of the avocado demonstration in the red wiggler worm bin. I was kind of hoping to open the bin tonight and be really impressed by what awesomely crazy things had been done to the avocado by the worms. Unfortunately that isn’t the case. I mean there has been some aging but nothing jaw dropping yet. Probably another day or two I guess. I’ll be really impressed when I can see the avocado pit!
For today though I can see that there is a tuft or two of that white fizzy kind of mold coming out of the side of the avocado. It kinda looks like a Mall Santa sat down next to the avocado for a rest and took of his beard, then forgot to put it back on. Also there is a pretty good sized dent in it now, which I’m taking to mean that it’s kind of collapsing in on itself.
I was just thinking about the time I put the mostly eaten peach in the bin. They really seemed to devour it! While I’m thinking this avocado is getting some attention it’s nothing like the peach. So I’m wondering if red wigglers just really like peaches? Or if they don’t like avocados? I suppose its possible that maybe when I put the peach in the bin there had been much less in there to eat so they were just hungrier? Or possibly the skin of an avocado is so much tougher then that of the peach that they are having trouble gaining access?
I suppose the peach was fresher too. I mean I had just eaten that peach so it was still good. The meat that was left on the pit was fresh and juicy. This avocado had clearly gone bad which is why I put it in the bin and started this little worm demonstration. Is it possible that the worms are picky and only like fresh produce?
Either way I guess we’ll find out as time goes by to see if they really get into this avocado or not. Even if they don’t the cool looking mold that will grow on it will impress!
So yesterday I found an avocado that was well past ripe in our kitchen. Instead of throwing it away I decided it would be interesting to see what would happen to it after it spent a little quality time in my red wiggler wormery.
I mean I don’t really question whether or not the worms are going to eat it. I’m sure in the end it’ll be eaten up and all that will be left is the pit and maybe some of the skin (avocados have a relatively thick skin). What I think will be more interesting is to see the process happen.
So I put it in a very conspicuous place right in the middle of the worm bin right on the very top of everything. This way it’ll be easy to see what is going on. I won’t touch it at all in the process and I’ll try not to touch anything else in the bin for that matter. Each day I’ll open the lid and snap a picture. In the end I’ll have a daily picture journal of how it all went. Like I say, I just think it’ll be interesting to actually see it happen.
So after 24 hours it doesn’t too too much different then yesterday. It does look like it has settled into the pile of food that it was sitting up higher on yesterday. Also I notice more rotten spots on the skin of the avocado. I don’t think that it has rotten spots because of the worms but they are there none the less. Could be because its dark in there, or maybe there are more bacteria or whatever in the bin then my kitchen, so it’s rotting even faster.
It’s a little too soon and too hard to say at the moment if the worms are attacking it from the bottom. My guess is that they are, but without actually picking it up or rolling it over I couldn’t see any specific signs that would confirm it for me. I’m guessing another day or two and there should be some obvious proof that the worms are going to have their way with this avocado.
This afternoon I was looking through the little fruit basket on our kitchen counter. Recently we have been keeping the fruit in the plastic bags from the store (yes using the plastic bags in the first place isn’t the greenest thing we do). I’m not sure this is true but I guess we are thinking this will keep the fruit fresher. Also, we may be to lazy to take it out of the bag to put in this bowl, 🙂
The downside to this new practice is the bad kind of obscure what is actually in the bowl. Not only what is in each bag, but the bags themselves cover stuff that is in the bottom of the bowl. Then we run to the store and get more fruit and put it on top. Sometimes the stuff on the bottom never gets notices and gets covered up for weeks with no attention.
That was the case today with a sad forgotten avocado. Just think, this poor avocado grew up in some other part of the country or around the globe for that matter. Then it was picked and took a series of trucks and ships to get to my local grocery store. Then my wife picked it out for purchase and put it in her cart. It got rung up and put in a bag, which one my my sons likely banged against their leg, the ground, and the side of the van before it was finally shown some mercy and plopped in our fruit bowl in the kitchen. Only to be totally forgotten and buried for a couple weeks under he weight of the more popular apples and pears.
Well as you might imagine it was in rough shape when I finally noticed it today. The funny thing which you’ll notice in the picture below is that it had a sticker on it labeling it as “Ripe”. I’m sure at some point in its life that was true, but it should be politely labeled “Over Ripe” and more realistically “Rotten” at this juncture in it’s life cycle.
I was going to just throw it away, but then the bin of red wigglers popped into my head and I decided to not let this avocado give it’s life in vain. So I took it down and added it to the red wiggler wormery downstairs.
You may or may not be able to tell from the picture that I really tried to prop it up in the air a bit. Well not really in the air but on top of everything. I didn’t want to just stick it down in the compost because then it would be much harder to see what the red wiggler worms were doing to it. So it’s sitting on top of a small mountain of other items that I’ve put in the bin.
I’m going to try to make a point to take a picture once a day to get a kind of time lapse idea of what goes on with this sad avacado. I’ve done something similar in the past with a peach. Put it was an eaten peach with just a little meat left on it, but the worms really attacked it. Let’s home these red wigglers love avocado as much as they love peaches and it should make for an interesting show!
For a few weeks now I’ve been running a little soil experiment. Comparing worm compost, store bought soil, and backyard soil and how basil seeds grow in them. It took quite a while for anything to grow at all actually. When I finally did see a little green it wasn’t much.
At one point I had at least one basil seedling in each of the three pots. The store bought soil had two growing. At this point though I’m down to just one seedling and it’s in the store bought soil.
I’m really not sure what the deal is for sure. The results for all three soils has been very underwhelming. I’ve got to figure out what the deal is to have this soil test work at all though. I mean I would guess that the soil that the seeds are growing in would have an effect on the plant growth. But I planted four basil seeds in four holes in each pot. That is 16 seeds per pot or a total of 48 seeds planted and a total of 4 seedling that made it above ground, or 8%. That is much lower then it should be. Like I say I am expecting differences in growth from soil to soil, but there is no real reason that that many seeds should fail.
I have planted vegetables plants in my back yard the last few summers. I’ve gotten plenty of beans, tomatoes, peppers, and more. So for there to be only one seed that grew and then died in the backyard soil is crazy.
The long and short is I feel like it has to be something that I did wrong. My best guess is that I was over watering. The pots that I’m using for this test were on sale at the local drug store one day. They are not however the type of pot that has drain holes in the bottom. I know at least once when I was watering the pots, they kind of flooded for a while. I wouldn’t have thought it was that big of a deal, but possibly it was and ruined the experiment.
So for the moment I’ll let the one basil seed go. It seems to be healthy, even if it is growing VERY slowly. When I have time, hopefully this weekend, I think I’m going to try to drill a hole or holes in the bottom of the backyard soil pot. I’m not sure if that’ll work of if the whole pot will crack, but nothing is successfully growing in there now anyway, so might as well give it a try. If that works I’ll try it on the worm compost pot, for the same reason. If I can drill both those with out cracking them, I’ll probably move the basil seed from the store bought soil to another pot and drill it too. If the drilling doesn’t work out then I’ll just need to buy three new pots with drain holes in them.
Either way it goes I basically need to restart the test with new pots that will keep me from over watering. Hopefully that’ll be the answer and a much larger percentage of the basil seeds will germinate. If not then I’m going to question if the seeds are any good, or if some other factor is slowing them down.
Its been weeks now since I first planted the basil seeds in all three kinds of soil (worm compost, store bought potting soil, and backyard soil). It took at least a week before I saw any growth at all. Then another week until there was growth in all three pots. Now the one seedling that started in the backyard soil died and is gone. There is two in the potting soil, and one in the worm compost. The remaining three seedling don’t seem to be wilting away but they also don’t seem to be growing at all. The pots just look the same day after day basically.
I speculated in my last post that the issue might be that I am accidentally over watering them. These pots don’t have any drain holes so whatever water I pour in just stays there until it is used by the seeds or evaporates.
My plan for the time being is still the same. Lets the seeds go and see what happens but I am pretty disappointed. If these three seedlings die though (without any others growing – which seems pretty unlikely at this point) then I’m going to start the soil test over. This time though I’ll use pots with drainage holes. I might need to use smaller pots though because I’ll need to put a dish under the to keep from leaking on the floor and I still need to fit them on my window sill. Either way it’ll still be seeds growing in pots on the window sill in all three kids of soil.
I actually think if I had the pots here right now I’d start up a second test and just run them at the same time. I don’t have them though so for now it’ll wait. Either I’ll drill holes in these pots, or hopefully I’ll find some draining pots on a year end sale somewhere in my travels.
The only other thing I might consider is adding some of the compost tea which drains out of my red wiggler worm bin to all three soils and see how that might speed up the growth. I guess I would just make sure that I put in the exact same amount of compost tea in all three pots.
So it’s been a few weeks now since I started my soil test. Basically I want to compare plant growth in backyard soil, store bought soil, and worm compost. My assumption going into it is that the worm compost is really going to make for the best growing soil. I used basil seeds for test.
It took almost two weeks before there was finally some growth in all three pots, and at least a week before there was any growth at all (which as it turned out was in the store bought soil). I really thought the seeds would have emerged much quicker then that.
Finally everything seemed to be in order since there was a least some green in each of the test pots. I thought maybe the backyard soil (mostly clay at my house) was hard to push through and that was why it took so long. But once there was some plants above ground, they could then really take off I figured.
Well it’s been a week or two since the first growth and there really isn’t much to report to be honest. Take a look at the three pots and be prepared to be bored 🙂
Right now there are two plants in the store bought soil, one in the worm compost, and none in the backyard soil. There had been some in the backyard soil but it appears to have died and dried up.
At the moment I can only make some guesses why all three of the pots are vastly under performing what I would have expected but I do have a couple of theories.
One, maybe the seeds were just really not that good. I did buy them from Walmart by the way so there is no telling what quality they actually are. Not only did I buy them at Walmart but I bought them at the end of the season. So I guess they could be bad seeds and old seeds. So that could be having an effect on their slow growth.
Two, these pots that I am using for the test don’t have drainage holes in the bottom. They were on sale at the local drug store and came in a pack of three, so they were cheap and I thought perfect because here was three of the same pot. But I know a few times I watered them I did kind of over do it. So maybe the seeds got drowned and just couldn’t grow. Or the ones that did just couldn’t get enough air and dies. Operator error on my part if that is the case. So for now I’m going to let things run their course a bit and see where this goes. If it doesn’t go well them maybe I’ll try drilling some holes in the bottom of these pots and restart it all over again. It could be tricky drilling because they are ceramic, so if that doesn’t work out I’ll buy some new pots with drainage holes.
Finally, it is officially fall here in NYS where I live. I have the plants inside on a window sill. I wonder if they are too cold being so close to the window. I haven’t had to turn the heat on yet for the year, so I feel like it should be warm enough for the to grow though. The other Fall factor is the amount of light. I have them right in the window but they are of course getting less light then if they were outside. Being fall there is less light to be had overall as well. So maybe between it being a bit chilly and there being less light, it’s having a negative effect on them all.
Whatever the reason is, it really seems to be effecting all the pots equally. Sure the store bought soil has two plants and the worm compost has one but that is hardly enough to really be impressive. I mean it’s not as if there is 100’s in one pot and nothing in the other. So for now I think my issues are environmental or having to do with the seeds, and nothing really can be said one way or the other about which type of soil is really best for growing plants.
I’ll stay with it for now and see what happens to the plants that are growing. If not much comes of it, I’ll probably get some draining pots and try it all over again.
As you might all ready know, every worm bin needs some way to catch the liquid, which I call compost tea, that collects and works it’s way to the bottom of the bin. If you don’t have a way for this liquid to drain out it’ll collect in the bin and eventually you compost will be underwater and the worms will drown or get out of the bin to escape.
For my bin I just drilled many small holes in the bottom of the plastic container. Then I put and upside down lid to another plastic container under it. About mid summer the compost tea was really collecting in that bin. I really though I was going to have to hurry and get it out of there (which I really don’t mind because it makes really great fertilizer). But I noticed the tea was starting to level off in the collection lid, so I let it go. It actually started to recede a bit. I think it was during a time I was putting in less food and therefore less liquid was getting created. I think it was receding though basically because it was evaporating.
Anyway, I just happened to be curious tonight to see what it looked like under my bin, as I really haven’t looked since shortly after I set up the bin, almost a year ago. So I moved the bin off the collection lid tonight and here is what I saw.
If you look close at the “shallow end” you can tell that it indeed has been evaporating as it’s starting to crackle up. I’m still going to get it in the garden this spring to help the plants really take off. That is if I don’t have to use it for my little soil test I have going with worm compost vs store bought soil.
There actually was what looked like some soil mixed in with the tea as well. I basically was some grains of the worm castings or compost that had gotten through the holes. It must have either fallen through, or was brought down by a few escaping worms. That’s the first time I’ve seen that before, but this is the first time I’ve let a lid sit without emptying it for almost a year.
Also make sure to wipe up any spilled worm tea before it drys. I once had a lid overflow and it sat for a while before I noticed it. It ended up staining the concrete floor of my basement. These few drips wiped right up though because I got them while they were still wet.