How to use castings

barbararose21101April 29, 2014

I have several pounds of castings and all my worms are happy.
I'm keeping the castings damp because there are hatchlings and cocoons in the sandbags with the castings.
We are going to have sun in the Pacific Northwest starting today: it is going to be hot (by PNW standards).
I have starts, I have plenty of garden space
& pots for an excess of tomatoes,
The roses want to be sprayed with tea.
I can do that by brewing small batches.

Questions are:
1. the tea recipe;

  1. tea vs extract,
  2. tea or extract vs using castings;
    4. vermicompost products vs other forms of plant food;

Decisions will be tested by tomatoes.

What do you think ?

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I think you need to tell "us" how involved you want to be in a systematic evaluation of various treatments.

Personally, I am willing to 'accept' your results without 'complaint' as long as you don't get up on a self-righteous high horse and demand that "we" take your results as "gospel" and swear never to mention using any other processes.

I can see a lot of fun coming from your 'experiments'. Once 'it' transcends "fun" and becomes "work", one should get paid for their labor. I suggest you construct your experiments to extract the most FUN from your summer, not the most 'scientifically' rigorous results. Like I said, I'll willingly and gladly accept your "data" in the spirit in which it is offered, regardless of the experimental design.


This post was edited by pskvorc on Sat, May 3, 14 at 13:11

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 1:23PM
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I would love to see an experiment done where you make aerated vermicompost tea and feed one plant with that, while doing nonaerated tea (just mixing in a bucket of water) and feed that to another, and see which one is happier. I am on the fence as to whether aerated tea is worth the time and effort, as opposed to an nonaerated version. I would love to see the results of such an experiment!

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 9:48PM
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"feed one plant with that, while doing nonaerated tea (just mixing in a bucket of water) and feed that to another, and see which one is happier."

One needs always to consider "sample size" when conducting 'experiments' or evaluating other's.

That said, when it's "all in good fun", sample size and statistical rigor is immaterial (and occasionally counter-productive). The effort put forth to conduct the comparison and the willingness to share the results should be taken in the spirit in which they were given and not 'peed on' by the "experts".


    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 1:09PM
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There is one set of three pots yet to be labelled for the experiment. So far:

  1. control. No food of any kind. Sob.
    the soil has 1% estimated nitrogen and whatever wildlife
    Cedar Grove products have.

2. Miracle Gro according to directions.

3. Jobes something or other with a lot of fancy ingredients and
no applicable directions. Will punt. Started with 1/4 cup in
+/- 3 gal pot.

4. Vermicastings. So far about 3/4 cup per about 3 gal pot,
some mixed under the plant and some on top. There was a
cocoon out in daylight ! I put it to bed.

5. Worm Tea. I'll use an approximation of Ingram's recipe
using eco-nero kelp which has 0.3 humic acid instead of
molasses. I'll use the air pump. My mentor in the air issue,
in addition to this forum and the internet, is a clerk at my
garden store who has had years of commercial experience
with vermicomposting. She said the tea needs air,
but stirring it is as good as an air pump. I'll use tea instead
of water with every watering & spray the foliage.

6. Suggestions inviited. I may think of something yet.


I realize how many variables I can't and won't control.
I just want to see what could be seen. It helps me pay attention to have a forum to report to. If there is enough fruit from these small plants to warrant counting . . . I'll try to.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 7:35PM
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Sounds like fun! Keep us posted. :) I feel a little bad for the "control" plant though. Haha.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 11:16PM
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    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 11:22PM
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You are doing what I have always wanted to do... but I am too lazy. Keep us posted.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 3:06AM
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The brew with the expensive additions isn't bubbling much:
No head.

The most head I get is when I put a ratio of about 2 to 1 water
(rain water) to horse manure. I infer that that is because it has more solids hence viscosity. The foam overflows and can rise 6 to 12 inches.

I'm using this horse poo tea instead of water for worm bins and for plants -- whenever -- . The horse manure isn't particularly composted. It had live worms in it, so I deemed it "safe" for worms. BTW those worms now have their own bin and began to be fed (pureed, rotted kitchen scraps) last week.

I would appreciate feedback about foam. If we all drink enough beer, ale or stout, we could use our experiences with those brews to describe what we get brewing VC tea.

The trouble with surfing the net for information is that I don't know where information or an idea came from. That said, I think I read that the molasses is for the benefit of bacteria.
Fungi want different food. Teas with a dominance of either or with both in balance serve different purposes.

So maybe this fancy brew with the expensive additive supports fungi more than bacteria and that's why there's no foam.

What do you think ?

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 1:47PM
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The only comment I can make about the 'head' on a glass of beer is that it always strikes me as bitterer than the beer itself. I suspect that is because my "sensors" are also dealing with the elevated CO2 that make up the "bubble" that a head of beer is mostly comprised of.


    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 4:26PM
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for precise advice.

I learned from Elaine that the purpose of humic acid is to neutralize the chlorine ( & chloramine ?). I don't have to use it as long as I have rainwater.

Elaine describes a good foam as a hard boil.
. If we accept Elaine's view, that answers the aerate or not question:

Yes -- aerate for tea for foliage: to keep fresh, keep aerating;
No -- if you "express or extract" from the castings and use promptly, aerating isn't part of the process.

My casual test will compare castings to tea but not extract vs tea. The final set will be fed with Black Lake Organic 5-4-3.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 11:40AM
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For me I mainly wanted the compost for my plants, flowers of various kinds , honeysuckle , peonies. As you might suspect a lot of hummingbird attracting plants. Because the past tough winter I lost a lot of plants and re ordered some and and a lot repotting . So with things starting to work out that way after a year of saving up castings I have had enough to mix in with everything. Yes I too like to keep my castings moist with a cover of some kind .

I have also used a couple of batches of worm tea and will soon make another. Anyway one plant that has shown marked improvement from last year simply by adding vermicompost is my peonies. Last year I had one flower bulb, so far this year I see that I have about 20 bulbs depending on how many of those actually flower. So now Im aware you are thinking but was the VC the reason for the improvement. Either way its the best the peonies have ever done. As for everything else the result will come later toward the end of the growing season. I have added VC to my tomato plants too. Just have a few of those.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 11:30PM
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As promised, la de da, here is a picture of the 18 tomato plants.
Took me an hour to find where I'd posted the previous picture.

IMO no obvious differences between feeding strategies -- yet.
The plants that began smaller seem to have caught up in every case.
All have blossoms -- while still pretty small -- which interests me in itself.

This also is true of the indeterminate varieties ( Brandywine and Calabash)
which usually get too big to manage -- and are not in the test. The indeterminates are being tested in a less controlled way: in pot vs in ground, mostly. One has a nearly constant, slow water supply from a leaking bucket to a garden sock. The others have saucers. The pots that sit on the ground without saucers have roots in the ground. That's fine as long as the ground has moisture. If you have a good imagination, you can see the bucket on a sock in the upper right corner of the picture.

Next report on this process July 1.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2014 at 11:08AM
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How's it going!

I wait with bait on my breath for the results of your efforts!


    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 5:15PM
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That was a good one Paul. Two points.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 7:22PM
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I have no idea how these double posts are happening. It's difficult enough to make the original!


This post was edited by pskvorc on Mon, Jun 16, 14 at 20:00

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 7:57PM
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buckstarchaser(5 MI)

For aerated water, I find that foam is associated with new additions of degradable material and high nitrogen levels. I generally interpret it as a nitrogen spike, but the retained bubbles may be due to bacterial slime or something else.

I brew beer, and a large head on my beer typically means too much carbonation for that beer formulation at that temperature. A beer with a longer head retention may be because it has a larger grain bill, or contains adjuncts specifically for that purpose; such as carapils malt or maltodextrin.

Either way, foam happens because the bubbles take longer to pop. That situation is often associated with protein films and polymers(nitrogen/bioslimes), and surface tension altering substances (soap).
Quote: "...the purpose of humic acid is to neutralize the chlorine"

Humic acid comes from the chaotic effect of decomposing organisms repeatedly processing the same carbon compounds until they become a gnarled mess. Humic acid is generally what makes dirt, poop, coal, and oil, brown or black. When you rinse vermicompost and it makes the water brown, you can make a pretty good guess as to how much humic acid is in the water by the shade of brown the water is.

Humic acid is considered a good thing for soil, but I don't think it can dechlorinate tap water much better than letting the water sit out and degas on its own. If you buy a seaweed extract and mistook the chlorine content on the label, seaweed contains salt from the sea it came from. Sea salt is made of sodium and chlorine.
As it is likely to come up in this experiment, I'm very interested in the experimenter planning for what will be done in the likely event of insects, and documenting the insect situation in respect to which plants were attacked, what was done, and how effective the treatment (or non-treatment) was; making sure to also document hand-picking insects and pruning. Insect protection is often touted as a benefit of the various tea products, but I've yet to hear of professional farmers replacing insecticides with teas..

I am also interested in suckering, since the experiment involves tomato plants. I have had a significant amount of tomatoes suckering in my aquaponics setup. Some of those suckers I rooted and gave to my friend, who planted them in dirt and hasn't had any suckering issues with them. I'd like to know how the different growing conditions affect suckering rate.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 5:23PM
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Hello Buck -- These plants are in pots and have no threats from insects yet.
The only threat to my tomaoes in the past has been slugs when the fruit was on the ground. I will watch and notice. I am removing the so called suckers.
It didn't occur to me to notice whether there were differences. I remove them as soon as I see them. One got so big I couldn't bring myself to cut it -- all the others gone. I did let some sit in the soil & wondered if they were rooting or if last year's seeds were sprouting. You may have answered that.

There are definite differences in the plants. The starved control has blossoms and very spare foliage. The Miracle grow blossoms are buds still and is heavy on foliage. (BTW I'd guess suckers are an expression of nitrogen )
The BLO is second in foliage.. The tea, used instead of water as well as foliar food, seems to be ahead in the fruiting. Could be to do with bees:
the tea -fed plants are closest to an enormous fully blooming rose bush.
Which is why I tried the Sonicare. One or more pictures about July 1.
Pictures slow this site down, so I hestitate to post many.

PS Are you online somewhere on the subject of beer ?
I have a couple questions about hops and malt.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 11:56PM
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buckstarchaser(5 MI)

Ahh, thanks for the followup. Sounds great so far! When you get your tomatoes, do note any flavor differences.

I found that Black Cherry tomatoes grown in poor soil (lawn), covered with wood chips, end up tasting like they have been sweetened with saccharin. Grown in my aquaponics system, they taste more like berries sweetened with sugar. If I don't pay attention to the water tests and the nutrient levels become undetectably low, those same tomatoes start to taste more like typical tomatoes. Also, I have about 90 strawberry plants making little red lemons because I let the water get too clean. :(

On the bright side, I have never before believed that plant flavor changes with fertility, and now I do. Fortunately, tilapia fish will eat sour strawberries.

I don't have an online presence for the subject of brewing but would like to help. If you want to chat about it, I would prefer to do so outside of this thread though.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 10:24AM
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I'll look in the email that accepts posts from this forum to see
whether your email address is in there.

I think I have an unsophisticated palate. I grow strawberries..
I have a sophisticated palate for strawberries and notice a lot of
variety in strawberry flavors.

I'll pay attention to tomato flavors (that's the point after all) but
I'll be thrilled to have tomato flavor. I doubt I'll perceive nuances.
But if, by "typical" tomato you mean one grown for shipment
on an industrial farm -- that difference I can taste.

The Miracle Gro plants have unopen blossom buds; the tea plants
have small fruits. I have 14 plants not in the test -- 18 + 14 = 32 ?
The Others (non test) get random max nutrients. There is a total of
4 different varieties. Should be some flavor differences. But !
There are many uncontrolled variables !

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 10:53AM
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Looking forward to the pictures!


    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 5:37PM
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I somehow missed this post when it first appeared. Boy, am I glad I did.

My general rule about "scientific", or "microscopic", or "meticulously observed and recorded observances of results" is to practice ignorance (by that I mean.....I ignore all those computations)

The eyeball test is all that's needed. If it's apparent that a particular method or technique is invaluably better than another by looking at obvious results, I use that one.

Aerated VC tea is one of those that pass the eyeball test. That has been so in every comparison I've done in my 15 years of fooling with vermicomposting (and I am always experimenting with every aspect of this art).

Almost all of my eyeball-obvious results have been dutifully recorded here for all to eyeball. Side-by-side comparisons of AVCT results vs plain old VCT findings long ago proved to me that the incredibly easy and simple job of aerating the brew was absolutely indispensable EVEN IF the brewing procedures were to require lot's more effort and work (if a hobby can EVER be referred to as "work")

BTW....when referring to AVCT, I do not mean using exotic extracts of this or that, or kelp, or things imported from the ocean, or human body parts, or special sauce, lettuce, cheese.

Just one food source to nourish the incredible growth of the army of biology that changes what my eyeballs see. Un-sulphured molasses.....oh, I know, another food source could be used, but the molasses WORKS ...and, I can eat it on my waffles with AVCT-inspired strawberries.


Moderation, Diversity, Patience

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 8:06AM
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Glad you missed it ?

I saw some support for your enthusiasm on another site associated with medical marijuana. One rumor has it that marijuana growers know more about gardening than most of us.

I agree with you that "brewing" is no big deal (i.e., not a nuisance) and the common sense of it, that oxygenating increases the bacteria we believe to be beneficial and decreases the bacteria we don't want in our gardens.

I think there is a lot to learn about adding stuff. I think the additions are apt to make major differences in the multiplcations of the life in there. Elaine advocated the kelp and humic acid to increase fungi. She thinks probably we have enough bacteria from our castings. She does not recommend molasses.
Further, think of all the variables that aren't controlled: (support for your attitude, probably ) : what did I feed the worms ? what other critters were in the bin ? How much VC to how much water ? Brewed how long? Is a week "better" than a day ? What if the water is aerated horse manure tea ?

First I used molasses. Then I used kelp with humic acid. Current buckets have both ! AND I am re areating the water that has drained from the Tea Test tomato plants.

They get their next feeding July 1 picture after that.

In case you miss it when I edit the other post, the unknown critter in my bin may be a ciliate. Looks similar, different shape: moves like a ciliate.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 10:58AM
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"My general rule about "scientific", or "microscopic", or "meticulously observed and recorded observances of results" is to practice ignorance (by that I mean.....I ignore all those computations)

The eyeball test is all that's needed. If it's apparent that a particular method or technique is invaluably better than another by looking at obvious results, I use that one."

Reminds me of another man that felt that way about his hobby.

"One rumor has it that marijuana growers know more about gardening than most of us." Whenever I am doing what I feel is extensive research about good gardening practices I always end up on one of those sites. They are where all of the latest information is. Perhaps it is like lots of human medicine coming from Vets working with $$$$$ race horses.

If lacto fermentation increases the probiotics in vegetables which are good for us then it stands to reason that brewing and spraying would do a similar thing on our plants.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2014 at 12:06AM
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Eyeball tests are OK when you are pretty sure of causes.

I advocate for a Science Mind Set, wanting to know what & why.
A good science mind set is skeptical and constantly hovering on hypotheses.

; )

There is a little too much anti science in the US presently.

I think we are all learners here. I like to say I'd rather be a smartass
than a dumbass.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2014 at 11:36PM
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cb2: ""The eyeball test is all that's needed.""
That's what I do to judge my VC, and the sniff test.

This post was edited by otis11 on Sun, Jun 29, 14 at 12:42

    Bookmark   June 29, 2014 at 12:38PM
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When I say "eyeball" test, I'm referring to the results.

About 12 years ago when I first started going thru all the questions, and different brewing methods, and ways to increase the production of the biology being brewed, and then after tweaking my recipes over a couple of years and observing the results, I found the recipe that works best;

It happens to be the absolute simplest one (that worked).

I've used it now for 10 years, and the amazing things about it is it works every single time. That's not to say that other peoples' tweaks don't work too.

After using no chemicals for 12 years, my plants and soils have morphed from pitiful to awesome. Hardly any of the actual work has been done by me.

Wanna prevent diseases like "take all patch"? Use VC and AVCT. Eliminate the need for artificial fertilizers (chemicals)? Make the soil sluff off the need for it.

I know, I all sounds kinda like BS, don't it? It ain't. That's why I keep telling ya'll about it despite some wondering if I'm maybe drinking it during the brewing process.


BTW, there will become less and less causes of problems as the health of the soil (hence plants) becomes more resistant (dare I say immune?) (YES!) to all that sh.....stuff.

This post was edited by chuckiebtoo on Sun, Jun 29, 14 at 17:38

    Bookmark   June 29, 2014 at 5:27PM
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I think barbararose's results will pass the "eyeball" test.

Results that don't need statistical verification are often the "best". (If it walks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, and it LOOKS like a duck, it's a duck.)

That said, SOME of the procedural standards imposed by statistical rigor prevent 1) self-delusion, and 2) sale of snake oil. By the same token, MUCH statistical "analysis" is PURE "smoke and mirrors".

I think many will be surprised when they see the results of barbararose's efforts.


    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 6:07PM
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    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 12:55AM
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Miracle Grow

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 12:56AM
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Vermicompost used as top dressing

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 12:58AM
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Aerated tea. One of these plants had the first fruit.
Cause questionable.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 1:01AM
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Jobes brand fertilizer

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 1:02AM
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Black Lake Organic fertilizer.

Interpreting the instructions on the package as best I could for pots, each BLO plant got about 2/3 cup at planting and at June 1 & July 1. That's twice as much as the Jobes seemed to call for. BLO emphasized minerals, which, maybe, are bulky ?

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 1:06AM
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The control and the 'teas' certainly appear to have the most visible fruit, while the "artificial" fertilizers clearly have the most foliage. Miracle Grow has a variety of recipes, one of which is "Tomatoes". Is that the one you used? Did you notice if the MG treatment plants had many blossoms? In other words, did they blossom but not set fruit? Did they blossom and the fruit is 'taking its time' developing? Or did they not produce many blossoms?

Thanks for the work, and the pictures. You know what 'they' say: A picture is worth a thousand words.


    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 2:25AM
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Black Lake Organic fertilizer: a Steve Solomon recipe

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 9:37AM
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These are the controls

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 9:41AM
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These plants were fertilized with Jobes brand tomato fertilizer.
There has been one fruit with blossom end rot.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 9:46AM
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Excess foliage: hard to keep watered. More than half the small fruits have been removed for blossom end rot. Go to Tomato Dirt or another site for details about BER. I didn't try to count the remaining fruit.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 9:50AM
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These plants were nurtured with VC tea. Also they got a few foliar applications early on. This experiment was a lot of work. I found that foliar spraying (which I think has lots of good effects) was just over my energy and time capacity. I will spray the roses when I don't have so much other garden to work.

The teas differed significantly, I think. I used Molasses, a kelp fertilizer, a fish emulsion and VC of different degrees of digested -- that is -- some VC had more castings than other VC.

The worms survive on horse manure & the straw/sawdust/shavings that come with it and choice, pureed, already decaying kitchen scraps. I have other composts for wastes worms don't like.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 10:00AM
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There wasn't VC to add to soil in pot at the time the pots were prepared. So the castings were used as top dressing. These plants got watered with tea, also. Both the worm-fed plants got only VC tea & no plain water.

Herewith endeth the test.

Some good news: I was able to buy more saucers, (price reduction) so watering will be evener in what is now hot weather -- 90's and 100's. I'll prune the plants leaving just enough leaves for the fruit that is there and add some amendments as seem needed.

Please keep in mind that there were lots of variables I couldn't and didn't control. I have not proved or disproved anything.
I just did what I could to see what I could see.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 10:10AM
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buckstarchaser(5 MI)

Thank you for spending the time and effort to run the test and share the results. It would be great if you could taste and compare the fruits from each plant, preferably with someone else preparing the samples and hiding the identities of the samples until after you document your observations.

Even though it wasn't enough to satisfy 'scientific method', I think I've learned a bit about Miracle Grow. I am reconsidering my opinion of it being generally acceptable as a last resort. My assumption may have been due to effective advertising and not necessarily an effective product.

The Miracle Grow may still be of use to pre-treat wood chips against nitrogen 'robbing', but may just end up holding my cupboard down.

Spoiler Alert: It also prompted me to do a deeper check on Solomon where I've just learned he's since recanted some of his core advice that he followed and claims to have suffered great harm from. I thought for a moment that I should have gotten a recall notice for the information he sold in his book. Most of the popular gardening advice sellers won't make public that they are full of it, but Solomon may just be mining his disastrous advice to sell a series of books where he gradually comes around to saying to just follow the advice of your local extension office.

The "average flavor" results of vermicompost and its tea are consistent with my lackluster results from it. I have previously suspected that it was too high pH and/or just not enough quantity, but I don't think any "Organic Farmer" could afford to use as much as I did and remain in business.

To me, your test has significant 'eyeball value'.

Here is a link that might be useful: Solomon and wife become dangerously ill from his own book's advice, but it's ok now with the release of his NEW AND IMPROVED book and product colaboration.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 12:41PM
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Yeoman's work, Barbara, and I add my sincere thanks for your effort to a) conduct the experiment, and b) post the results with images!

I believe you have provided useful information to those that are interested in real life applications. From me, that is no small compliment. Damn little "science" actually provides truly USEFUL information for real life application.


    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 1:35PM
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Great job barbararose! Thanks for sharing.

I love the pics, but my vision is limited. I was wondering if you would mind ranking your groups. To me, it looks like the "tea" group looks the best?

Thank you for this fine documentation.


    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 11:57PM
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Reply to Pete :

Ranking. I intended not to comment because there are so many variables: fruit size, fruit quantity, and there may be flavor distinctions. Since this is a vermicompost forum, and most of the participants are Believers, I don't want to annoy anyone.

I did make a chart which addresses what you ask, and am willing to comment further via direct email. The feature is enabled on my preference page,

Thanks for replying to outdoor bin post. More later on that.

BTW do you have a camera or a phone that takes pictures ?
Does it have a memory card ? We know you have a computer.
The inbetween step is a card reader that plugs into the computer. Want to know more ?

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 4:21PM
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It is OK with me if vermicompost is not the best fertilizer. Vermicompost's claim to fame is soil structure which includes ability to bank water and allow air to plant roots. ... which should show up as better plants and fruits. I don't know.

Like Mendopete, I could not tell which plants looked best. I would feel comfortable relying on your observation.

Like pskvorc, your experiment is good enough for me and I'm from Missouri, well not really but they are "the show me state".

The two factors of interest would be does purchased fertilizer continue to work year after year in the same soil and do the tomatoes from this year or the next or next taste different. An experiment like that would be too much to ask. The experiment you did do is much more extensive than what is shown or reported where I can see it by corporations with time and money.

It is amazing what regular people can do on the internet. Information can be shared that is unavailable elsewhere.

Possibly the best and highest use for vermicastings is seed starting and worm tea?

That was a lot of work you did. Thank you for sharing your work with the board and for taking the time and energy to do it. And for pictures. We like pictures.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 12:21AM
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Really great postings/. I am a newbie with vermicomposting and I am a bit discouraged by the results of the castings. but I will treck on nonetheless. To prove my newness at this. How do I make worm tea.? thanks

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 11:41AM
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To MaryAnn

This is not the thread that will get the most replies to your question. I am willing to write what I do.

I use 4 gallons of rainwater -- or water that has sat in the sun for 24 hours --in a 5 gallon bucket. I add something: molasses feeds bacteria; kelp meal and other additives feed fungi . Or so I am told. I've added either or both and I've added fish emulsion fertilizer.
Just playing my hunches, I'm inclined to think the best use of tea is as a spray when competing with other fungi. So when I spray roses, I'll add one of the alleged fungi foods. I areate the water and the additive with an airstone aquarium bubbler for about 15 minutes. Then I put at least a pint of vermicompost into the bucket. Sometimes more.

Cocoons will bubble up around the edge of the bucket.
I pick them up with a cup and pour the cup through a sieve &
then put them in a bin with worms.

I keep it aerating until it is gone. I used it in the test . Other than that I like it for the emotional satisfaction of nurturing any plant that needs it: Either as a "drench" that is, putting it in the soil, or my favorite trick is to "dunk" the roots in the bubbling tea. I grow strawberries: I think this helps them through renovating.

When the tea is almost used up I strain it. I use paint straining bags because I don't have to deal with it immediately. This is a little tricky: A big colander that will sit on a bucket is a plus. I can tie a knot in the bag and put it in a bin & think about what else to do. ( I can post a picture of this if necessary.) Some VC leaves a lot of uneaten bedding and some VC leaves hardly any. I tend to brew before the VC is dense with castings for the health of the worms.

What my test told me is that VC and tea make healthy plants:
They don't compete with fertilizers "showing off" quantity of fruit-- especially not compared to the best complete organics with all the minerals and fungi etc. like the BLO. The Miracle Grow was a disaster in a pot. Might be O K in the ground. It would need extra pruning and more care than any other amendment. (More than half the fruit got blossom end rot which is a calcium absorption problem.) There are lots of small unripe fruits. The others have ripened fruits.

I've dehydrated a batch which is my preferred method of storing. The tea plants are only slightly different from the control plants. A tea plant was the first to show fruit and the first to ripen. That could be for a number of reasons, but there it is. Also, it is relevant that the control had good dirt including a compost/dairy product. They all started with that & that is plenty good enough for growing a tomato in a pot, In the future I'll put VC in with the plants when they go in the ground or in the pot & I'll use a little COF (Complete Organic Fertilizer) from a store closer to me than Black Lake Organic. The Jobes brand had at least one blossom end rot & is a decent fertilizer but not as complete as COF.

In case there is any doubt, usually it is better to put a plant in the ground than in a pot -- all else equal. We are having a summer designed for tomatoes. If we had had spells of rain in the middle of the warm weather, plants in the ground would suffer. In pots, keeping the moisture EVEN is a challenge.
It may be that slightly underwatering improves flavor as in strawberries.

WHEW. Pictures are easier.

Tomorrow I'm going to Chehalis for burlap. I hope to be able to do a one -time taste comparison test. because I'll have ripe fruit from most of the plants. The trick is labelling them (for one thing).

For the record in case there is any question, all the soils from all the pots will be reused after thorough mixing with what ever I am using for next year. ( See the Design a Bin thread).

I bought a LOT of Black Owl Biochar and will be "charging" it in VC and tea as well as just mixing it into the soil.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 1:00AM
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To keep the tomatoes separate for your taste test perhaps put a sticker onto the bottom of each one possibly color coded. Then put each sample onto separate plates and cut a wedge to taste. Or write on paper plates.

Playing with Biochar sounds like it will be a lot of fun. I always think of Biochar as like a coral reef waiting for inhabitants.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 1:34PM
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