Vermicompost as Germination Mix
Some thoughts about using vermicompost as a germination mix.
When I first started using vermicompost as a germination mix, I thought I had to heat sterilize using a small lab oven I had. After a year or two of this tedious process I came across a thread which recommended using a diluted solution of 3% hydrogen peroxide (1/2 cup/gal water; 1:32) to prevent such things a dampening off. Another advantage of using hydrogen sulfide vs. heat sterilization is the salvaging of valuable nutrients.
However, one down side is using the hydrogen peroxide method does not destroy tomato seeds. During harvest last fall I processed more than five gallons of tomato waste in my indoor bins, and the tomato seeds are still sprouting in those bins. Using vermicompost as a germination mix can result in getting a rogue tomato seedling instead of the one(s) you planted.
If you are using pure worm castings it is advisable to dilute these with either; soaked and drained peat moss; choir; or purchased germination mix; since the nutrient level may be too high for germinating. My spent media or vermicompost is taken from the tops of the bins at feeding time and do not qualify as pure worm castings. They may contain a very small amount of uneaten worm food; coffee grounds; and new media (peat moss).
Tip: Although I like peat pots for starting lots of different seeds, I recently discovered something new which I will be using for various small seed transplants such as romaine, butterhead, and other types of head lettuce. The newer rectangular plastic yogurt cups are ideally suited for this purpose. A single seed flat will hold 24 of these cups vs. 18 peat pots. Simply punch a hole in the bottom center of the cup and fill with your seed starting mix or grated vermicompost. I like to add 1/4-inch of crushed gravel fines to the bottom of the cup for drainage and bottom watering purposes. I use a seed tray insert, plastic dome, and a heat mat to accommodate these cups. Just be sure to label each cup and remove as soon as the seeding has broken the surface, and replace with another cup for successive plantings.
That's my story...what's yours?