Over the weekend I finally got a chance to put together seed growth test that I’ve been talking about for quite a while now. I write all the time about how great worm compost is for growing plants, so I am finally putting that to a true test.
I set up three pots on my kitchen window sill. One has store bought soil in it. One has backyard soil in it. The third has pure worm compost from our wormery downstairs. Carter and I planted some basil seeds in each of the pots.
Well you have to look very close but today was the first day that I noticed some growth…
It’s a bit deceiving because that is the backyard soil. As part of digging it up there was a bit of green plant matter there on the surface. I remember seeing it when we planted the seeds. I was going to pull it out, but I didn’t want to risk disturbing the seeds. So when I first looked this evening I didn’t see any new growth because I knew that bit of green plant matter was all ready there. But then when I looked closer I notice a small green shoot coming out from right at that same spot. What are the chances that the first seed to grow would be right there near that weed?
So the verdict for the moment is that the first seed to grow was in the back yard soil. This obviously could be a bit deceiving because maybe that seed happened to get planted a little closer to the surface, so it was first for that reason. A truer test is going to be to see which pot has an over all quicker growing AND thicker, healthier plant when it’s done. But for the moment based on the only thing I can measure so far, the backyard soil is in the lead.
I’m guessing that over the next couple of days there are going to be quite a few green shoots coming up out of all of the soils. Time will tell.
It’s been a long time coming and I’ve been promising for some time now, but I finally got the seed growing test underway. For quite a while now I’ve been talking about how great worm compost is for plants. What great soil it makes for seeds. How it’s the best fertilizer that nature could make. How it works as great as store bought fertilizer but is actually good for the plants and good for the environment.
I’ve been mentioning to my kids for about a week now how we are going to get it all set up. I’ve had the pots and the soil sitting in our dining room for the same amount of time. It’s gotten to the point that my boys keep asking when we are actually going to do it too.
Well anyway, tonight was the night. Carter and I went out side and dug up some soil from behind the shed in our back yard. We have a good amount of clay in our soil here at the house, and I think we might have gotten a couple of earthworms in the process as well. So we filled the first pot.
Next we filled the 2nd pot with soil from the picture above. It was just some basic all purpose potting soil that I got on sale at Rite Aid (75% off, can’t beat it!).
Last we went down to the wormery and and scooped out some worm compost. I’ve had this specific bin set up since last January. So not quite a year but plenty of time to get some really awesome earthworm compost! This is the first I’ve taken anything out of them bin since setting it up. This stuff really seems like the best stuff ever. I mean you could tell looking at it that it’s going to be great for growing! Now, lets just hope that the facts back me up.
So a couple weeks ago my boys and I went out shopping for some seeds that we could use for this test. Really we could use anything. Probably the best thing to use would have been some flower seeds. We could quickly see which one was growing quickest and best and it wouldn’t be dependent on bees and bugs to pollinate them to bloom. But I really hate growing things just to grow them. I really wanted to grow something we could eat. It was hard to find something that would work inside, especially when picking from the selection of what was left at the end of the season here in the Northeast.
So we finally settled on carrots. Which I’m not 100% positive if they need to be pollinated but the boys seemed excited about it so I pulled the trigger. What was interesting though when I opened the pack I noticed they included a bonus pack of basil seeds as well. I quickly figured that this was even better then carrots. I don’t think basil needs pollination and it definitely could be useful for cooking around the house here.
So anyway, we make 4 half-inch holes in each pot. We put a few basil seeds in each of the 4 holes and covered them over. The worm compost didn’t really need any watering because it was all ready so moist right out of the bin. The backyard soil only needed slight watering because it’s been so rainy today. The all purpose potting soil from the store did need a good watering though.
Once we have everything all set we labeled the pots and Carter put them in the window.
So the test is simple. I’m going to check in every day or two and see how the plants are doing. Maybe even take some specific measurements. At least though I’ll be checking on them visually and posting here on wormcompostingorgainc.com. I’m basically putting my money where my mouth is. I’ve been saying for so long how great this worm compost is for growing, so it’s time to really see it in practice.
Next up will be to used some of the compost tea from the catch tray under the worm bin and see what kind of measurable effect it might have as well.
As a bonus the boys and I planted a pea seed in the worm bin the other night just to see what it would do. Carter and I checked on it tonight while we were getting some compost out for out test. Interestingly there hasn’t been any growth yet. I’ll keep checking on it as well and report back.
So I’ve been talking about it for a while now, but this is the weekend that I finally set up a test to see what grows seeds/plants better. Backyard soil, store bought soil, or worm compost. I’m betting on the worm compost but the proof will be in the pudding!
So my boys and I are planning on getting it all set up with either Saturday or Sunday with some carrot seeds we bought. We were talking about it tonight though while we were feeding the new pet turtles some red wigglers. During the discussion Connor noticed a pea seed on the porch floor (we had planted some peas during the summer). He said why don’t we plant this seed IN the worm bin?
…Huh? That is a really interesting idea. I mean once it germinates and needs the sun it’s not going to do all that well at all. But in the mean time that should make for a really interesting experiment I think.
So Connor, Carter, and I went downstairs to the worm bin and planted the seed in the front corner of the bin.
Like I say, in the long run this pea plant is not going to do so well. Plants and total lack of sunlight are a bad combo for longevity, lol. But in the mean time it’ll be really interesting to watch it grow. And see how long it’ll take to grow. Not to mention if the worms will eat the plant before it dies and is still growing? It’s almost like this bin is going to be it’s own little ecosystem. I’m going to watch earthworm recycling from beginning to end.
A few weeks ago when we were camping on the Scroon River the boys and I caught some turtles. We’ve caught frogs and minnows and all kinds of things before but turtles was a first. To the best of our ability we’ve identified the as baby snapping turtles. They are about an inch or two long, not including their tail.
So we brought them home and they have been living in a Rubbermaid bin for a while now. Tonight we finally moved the into a small tank with enough gravel to have some underwater and above water areas. We looked up online what it is that snapping turtles eat. Turns out they are omnivorous which means they eat both plants and animals.
So Carter, my youngest, went downstairs and picked out two juicy earthworms to eat. I’m thinking the red wigglers are a good fit because they are really small turtles and they need small worms to eat.
So the turtles are new to their now aquarium so I’ll be curious to see how long it takes the to find the worms. I guess that is assuming the do indeed eat the red wigglers for that matter.
So you have the coffee that came out of your K cup and you are standing next to the trash can which is next to the coffee machine. You now that your red wigglers would love to eat this bit of used coffee grinds. But if you are me, the worm bin is downstairs, and I am all ready standing next to the trash. It is such a small amount. It seems wasteful to throw it away, but it doesn’t seem worth the energy to take it downstairs either (especially while I’m trying to get me and my two boys ready for work and school).
So this week I came up with the answer for this little dilemma. I keep a small bowl next to the sink. Then each time I brew another cup of coffee I put the left over grinds in the bowl. Or if there is some small amount of other leftovers (tops to strawberries, ends of cucumbers, etc) I put them in there as well. I started this on Monday and today is Thursday. It was almost all coffee in the bin. However for dinner I cut up a cucumber for the boys, which I peeled first. I also cored and apple for them too. I put those in the bowl as well.
So after I got the boys to bed (a task which seems longer and longer every night, and this is just the first week of school!) I went down and put all this in the worm bin. I opened and emptied that K cup before I went down as well. Worms like the coffee and the paper filter in those K cups but they won’t eat the plastic cup or the foil top.
Typically I would have thrown out the small individual cups of coffee grinds and just that small amount of peel and apple core, because the garbage can is so much closer and easier. But with my little left over bowl I just let it collect for a few days and I had something to feed the worms tonight. On a usual night like tonight I guess I wouldn’t have had anything to feel them, so this is a big bonus!
When it comes to the easiest way to buy worms, I always look online. There is a great variety and you just can’t beat how easy it all is. You just click the type and amount of worms you are looking for, pay for your order, and a few days later you worms are waiting for you on your front step.
The most common question is, “Will my worms be alive after the shipping to my house?”
Yes indeed they will. Worms ship very well actually. Most worm companies will pack them into some dry soil and let the worms dry a bit before shipping. Worms are very resilient creatures. They tend to become a bit dormant in extreme heat and cold.
So when you open up your new worms they are likely to look very small and very inactive. But pop them into their now home and add a little moisture. In a few minutes to an hour they are going to be moving and grooving again. Make sure to give them some food and they are going to be happy in their now home your worm composting bin.
There is one cool item that I’ve always heard about folks putting in their worms bins that until now I haven’t tried. Vacuum cleaner bag collections. In other words, all the stuff that you have vacuumed off your floor.
Really it makes perfect sense. It’s all the kind of stuff that you would find out in your yard or in the forest anyway (Except for Legos and school supplies). It’s sand and dirt, misc stuff from your shoes which came from outside originally, dust, and if you live in my house…lots and lots of dog hair!
As you can tell we have the kind of vacuum which doesn’t use bag. I like this because it tends to be green (no wasted bag). But if you do have bags, remember worms will eat paper, so just throw that whole sucker in. Actually that would be pretty cool to watch the worms work at it. It would just look like a bag for a while, until they finally broke through and you could see them working at the insides.
So I vacuumed the house and filled the container. Then I dumped it all into the bin.
The only trick that I noticed when I put it all into the bin what how dry the contents of your vacuum are. Dry as a bone. Now I’m not all that worried because my bin is very moist, if anything maybe too moist. So that will help dry things up a bin.
Actually now that I think about it I wonder if the compost tea has collected to it’s max. I have the lid to a bin under it to catch the tea. I started to collect early to mid summer. I haven’t emptied it yet, but as of let the level hasn’t risen any. I have kind of been wondering in the back of my head why it hasn’t risen. It just dawned on me while I was reading this that maybe the level of the tea in thd lid is higher then ht bottom of the bin. Which means the tea is also collecting in the bottom of the worm bin as well. Not all the way up to the surface, but it’s working it’s way up. Which is maybe why the surface of the compost is so moist.
I guess I’m more thinking out loud here but I think that might just be an issue. I’m going to have to drain off some of that tea. I am hoping today to set up my test of the three pots to test some seed growth (worm compost, backyard soil, and purchased potting soil). I guess while I’m at it I should be getting some of that compost tea out of there as well!
The last post I had just added some tops to beets (and I think I snuck in a banana peel as well). Well it doesn’t appear that they loved the beet tops, but they did eat some of them. Or they kind of rotted away in the last week or so. You can still kind of see them but not very well. It’s almost more like they melted away as opposed to being eaten really. Maybe they didn’t like them actually 🙂
So the very next time I have some leftovers I will need to get some more food in there again.
I am also about to start a new experiment that I had hoped to do over the summer. But the fall is here and I’m finally getting to it. The good news is I got a good deal on the materials. Nothing better then buying garden supplies in the fall when it comes to getting a good deal 🙂
So hopefully this weekend I’m going to fill those three new pots. One is going to be filled with the soil you see in the picture. The next is going to filled with soil from my back yard. The final one is going to filled with the worm compost from my red wiggler bin. I’m going to plant seeds from the same pack in all three pots, and we’ll just see which is the best soil.
I’m fully expecting that the worm compost is going to show the seeds grow faster, stronger, and better, but only time will tell!
The only thing left to decide is what variety of seed to use. I’d like to use something we can eat so that I could comment on taste as well. The trick is this is Fall and therefore I’m going to have to let them grow inside the house near a window for light. Which means I’m not going to get any pollination. So maybe some herbs? Or I suppose maybe some flowers would show the effect of the soil better.
In the end the decision is greatly going to swing on what I can find at the home supply store still on the shelf.
Well actually the tops of beets. We have been using the beets in the juicer quite a bit lately. Surprisingly they are much sweeter then you might think. When it comes to juicing, you really need to add some fruit to make it taste a little better. And apple, and pear, etc. But we have found that beets can make it a little sweeter as well.
So the beets themselves we are keeping for ourselves. But the plant part of the beet that grows above ground is what I’m talking about giving to the worms. I actually think I’ve read that some folks will eat this greenery as well. Like maybe in a salad or something like that. So far we haven’t ventured that far into eating the whole beet.
Our loss is the red wiggler‘s gain 🙂
There are a few cucumber peels in there as well. I’ll be curious in a couple days to see how much they have eaten. It seems like they really go after scraps that have some good stuff left on them that we humans would eat, but at a bit stingy with the peels and rinds etc that we would typically throw away. I’m sure they will eventually eat it all, but I suppose if I had to choose between the skin of a spaghetti squash or the peach left near the pit, I’d go for the peach too 🙂
Its been a week or so since I’ve put anything new in the red wiggler worm bin. I had put in some left over spaghetti squash and they have really torn through it. It’s really pretty interesting to see what is left. It’s like they have perfectly eaten all the meat out of the squash and left nothing but the thin skin and stem. I’m assuming over time they will eat this too, but for now they must be looking for easier meals around the bin. Maybe the moisture in the bin will eventually soften it up enough to look appetizing for them 🙂
The other fun thing that I’ve notices these days is the noise when I open the bin. Until recently (I’ll say the last month or so) I’ve never noticed a noise when I opened the bin. Sure there were things to see, but nothing to hear.
Well now it sounds just like a freshly poured bowl of rice krispies. I think partially this is because it is just so moist and delicious as far as the compost and make up of the bin contents these days. I also think it likely has something to do with the number of worms in the bin these days as well. I started about 7 months ago with 2,000 red wiggler worms in this bin. If I had to guess, and this is a total guess, I’d say there might be close to 3,000 now. They have been busy getting busy 🙂
At some point soon I really should find a good way to get a count on the worms just to see how the population is growing. I’m going to have to put my thinking cap on to find a good way to count them. I’d like to do it without disturbing the bin but I’m not really sure how possible that is going to be. I am thinking that I am just going to need to dig through it and take them out one at a time and just plain count them and put them temporarily in another bin as I do it. Then once I get a count I can put them all back.
I have been meaning to start a test of planting some seeds in a pot of the compost from the bin as soil. And a 2nd pot with potting soil from the store, as well as a third which is soil from the back yard. Then I can compare the growth of these and see how beneficial the compost really is.
Now that I’m thinking about it that would be a perfect time to get a count. I would be removing some compost from the bin anyway so why not count them while I’m at it. The less compost there is in the bin at the time, the easier it’ll be to get a count. Like and inventory sale 🙂