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Hello all,

 

I have heard so many opposing opinions about worm leachate in AP or VP systems – I don’t know what to think. I have read, and seen videos of people using leachate that just rave about the results.  Yet others say this is the worst thing you can put in your system.  I would like to get input from anyone using leachate in an AP/VP system.  I read about “worm towers” being used as well, which I know are allowing leachate to drain into the system.  Is this a no-no, or are there things going on in an AP system (such as aeration) that makes leachate a non-issue?  Are the people using leachate just lucky that they don’t develop  a serious problem with their system?

 

Another thought is:  why not have a worm bed in which the bedding has been pre-washed to remove the dirt, silt, and any small material.  Feed the worms as you would in any worm bed.  When the bed gets near the end of it’s cycle, let the last of their food be consumed or mulched.  Then simply flood the entire worm bed (steeping it), maybe 15 minute floods, and 5 minute drains for a few days or as long as it takes to dissolve castings and mulch, using aerated water to keep the worms happy.  Wouldn’t this dissolve the castings and mulch into the AP/VP system without having to physically separate the castings?  After flushing the bed, let it drain, add new food, and repeat the cycle.  This seems to be a very efficient way to use the castings and mulch in a tea, while also cleaning out the worm bed for a new cycle.  I would assume castings introduced by any means into any hydro growing system would become tea in a short time anyways.  I know the worms wouldn’t have any problem with the floods.

 

Thanks

Dan

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Being the best plant food available - Why would you not add castings into the growing media? 

Let me clarify also - I am not doing AP (I know  I said that) but Vermiponics and peeponics.  So I really don't have enough food to keep very many worms happy and fat in my beds.

From what I understand you can't have too much worm castings in the media beds?

 

 

  Mary:  When you add redworms to your media beds you can either leave them on top or dig a hole and plop (gently) them in.  Redworms are extremely light sensitive and will scramble to get subsurface a.s.a.p..  Some people like to watch this process.   Either is fine. 

      As far as progress with the redworms goes...do not go digging around in your media beds to monitor their progress.   Redworms do not like to be disturbed much.  Yes, it is tempting, but you will have to trust that these little worms will be down in your media doing what redworms are supposed to do, rather than slacking off in some corner playing cards or teasing your fish from the top of the tanks when you are not looking.  Once you add your redworms it will take between 1 -3 weeks for them to "settle in", getting used to the new surroundings, the pH, Temps, etc.. During this adjustment time they will not be eating much or consuming much.  After that they will begin eating and reproducing normally.  Redworms react to disturbances as if they are being threatened. They will leave the area/spot where the disturbance occurrs, temporarily. If the disturbance is constant they will stop eating and reproducing.  Normal care and work in media beds is okay.  Just do not go poking around in the media beds trying to find them.  They will react by "squirming away for their lives".

     One of the biggest signs that something is not right in your media beds for the redworms is if they leave en-mass.  You may have some wander a bit the first few days...this does not count.  If you have a mass exodus, or they are all surfacing, that is when you need to look at what is going on.  It usually indicates that there is too high of a castings concentration in the beds, or the bed is anaerobic. After they have adjusted  you will notice more surfacing if a problem begins to arise, before the mass exodos event...Just be sure that if you have a generator or other constantly vibrating equipment it is not sending those vibrations to your media beds...that will cause epic worm migration.  Vibrations are how redworms detect they are being persued by a predator (bird hopping on the surface or mole digging in the soil).  This is when you find out how fast redworms can really travel.  Keep the redworms away from vibrating equipment.

        When you remove plants from your media beds, or plant new ones, or add seeds, you will see your friends in there doing their job.  You  may also notice some pearlescent yellowish/greenish to brownish grape seed sized and shaped orbs in there.  Those are the redworm cocoons.  All signs things are going well down in the media for your redworms. The cocoons start out rather  pearlescent greenish and turn brownish the closer the time for the juvenile redworms to emerge approaches.

   Hopefully this helps.  Let me know if you have any more questions.

       I am very familiar with vermiponics. I don't do pee-ponics, but have read a bit about it.  The family would not let that one get by!  I do have vermiponics running here on our redworm farm .

     Worm casting tea/worm castings....   I believe we are talking about two different things.  Adding Worm casting Tea to an AP media bed is a something different than adding worm castings to an AP Media bed. (This is an AP Forum).     Yes, worm castings are fantastic for plant growth. They are a power house of plant available nutrients. You can add worm castings to your media bed, but if you have a healthy redworm population in there doing their work, you should not need to add any. If operating on a 'if some is good, more is better' motto, adding worm castings makes sense. There is a point at which the high concentration of  nutrients in the castings may not be what you would want your plants to have.  I am referring to the research from the Ohio State Univ. Soils Lab (a highly world-wide respected vermiculture program there). Their research is available online. It can be very heavy reading,  but is something I make a point to keep up on.  But if that is not something you want to spend your time wading through, even the photos in the research speak loudly about the effects of high concentrations of castings on different types of plants.  I realize, Daniel, you are familair with the nutritent content of worm castings, but for the benefit of other readers, worm castings typically have a very high nitrogent content, as well as high nutrients across the spectrum.. I do adjust the worm castings used to suit what I want to see in plant growth in my soil gardens, and the same can be done in vermiponics.  And the same for AP.  So "more is better" is not always the answer with worm castings.  However, for the benefit of other readers, worm castings in ANY concentration will not harm plants.

    When you do add worm castings to an AP media bed, know the source.  There have been discussions about worm castings from redworms fed vegetation feedstocks as opposed to manure feedstocks.  I won't go into that here, but look that discussion up on this forum for more info... Either are great for plant growth. In AP it is a matter of an arising concern for safety, which has been voiced.  Of course, if the worm castings are created on your own place by your own redworms you know how the worm castings were generated.

  Hopefully I have addressed the issue fully for you.

 

__________________ ___________________________ __________________ ____________________
 
Daniel Gunloche said:

Being the best plant food available - Why would you not add castings into the growing media? 

Let me clarify also - I am not doing AP (I know  I said that) but Vermiponics and peeponics.  So I really don't have enough food to keep very many worms happy and fat in my beds.

From what I understand you can't have too much worm castings in the media beds?

Thank you Converse,

But in your opinion, do you think there is enough material in my beds to feed very many worms without fish in the equation?  I am thinking I need to add some castings because my worm population in the beds will be a bit thin.

The way my beds are built - it is almost impossable to get castings in them without making a huge mess, so my only other alternative (thus far anyway) is to do a worm tea.

Your input is greatly appreciated.

Thanks

Dan

Converse said:

       I am very familiar with vermiponics. I don't do pee-ponics, but have read a bit about it.  The family would not let that one get by!  I do have vermiponics running here on our redworm farm .

     Worm casting tea/worm castings....   I believe we are talking about two different things.  Adding Worm casting Tea to an AP media bed is a something different than adding worm castings to an AP Media bed. (This is an AP Forum).     Yes, worm castings are fantastic for plant growth. They are a power house of plant available nutrients. You can add worm castings to your media bed, but if you have a healthy redworm population in there doing their work, you should not need to add any. If operating on a 'if some is good, more is better' motto, adding worm castings makes sense. There is a point at which the high concentration of  nutrients in the castings may not be what you would want your plants to have.  I am referring to the research from the Ohio State Univ. Soils Lab (a highly world-wide respected vermiculture program there). Their research is available online. It can be very heavy reading,  but is something I make a point to keep up on.  But if that is not something you want to spend your time wading through, even the photos in the research speak loudly about the effects of high concentrations of castings on different types of plants.  I realize, Daniel, you are familair with the nutritent content of worm castings, but for the benefit of other readers, worm castings typically have a very high in nitrogent content. I do adjust the worm castings used to suit what I want to see in plant growth in my soil gardens, and the same can be done in vermiponics.  And the same for AP.  So "more is better" is not always the answer with worm castings.  However, for the benefit of other readers, worm castings in ANY concentration will not harm plants.

    When you do add worm castings to an AP media bed, know the source.  There have been discussions about worm castings from redworms fed vegetation feedstocks as opposed to manure feedstocks.  I won't go into that here, but look that discussion up on this forum for more info... Either are great for plant growth. In AP it is a matter of an arising concern for safety, which has been voiced.  Of course, if the worm castings are created on your own place by your own redworms you know how the worm castings were generated.

  Hopefully I have addressed the issue fully for you.

 

__________________ ___________________________ __________________ ____________________
 
Daniel Gunloche said:

Being the best plant food available - Why would you not add castings into the growing media? 

Let me clarify also - I am not doing AP (I know  I said that) but Vermiponics and peeponics.  So I really don't have enough food to keep very many worms happy and fat in my beds.

From what I understand you can't have too much worm castings in the media beds?

  Daniel,

     This is an Aquaponics Fourm.  I will answer this here, but further answers regarding vermiponics need to be done off this forum, lest Sylvia need to scold us.

   If I understand correctly, you feel you do not have a high enough redworm population to give you the castings needed to create the plant growth you expect.

    If you do not have enough redworms in your media beds, and you are making tea, it is apearent that you either are buying castings ( expensive) or you have composting worms elsewhere at your disposal.Buyning castings is not cheap.  If you have redworms elsewhere you can use those to boost your media bed population.

 

  My first inclination is to tell you to not add castings.  Remember, redworms will not thrive/live in a concentration of their own castings.  By adding castings or tea you may be hurting your redworm population growth.  Of course, the whole reason for doing this is to grow food, which  would be why you're wanting to add the worm castings tea.  Do you have time to let the worm population grow in the beds? If growing vegetables fast is needed, you could keep doing what you are doing AND add the worm casting tea plus this:  Grow a worm population in a separate bin experiencing indoor temps (faster reproduction) and then add them to your media beds. At some point your redworm population will be high enough you should be able to stop adding castings or tea to get the needed plant growth.. I'd be concentrating on making conditions favorable for population growth. What species of worm do you have in your beds? What is your temperature variation right now (ambient and water temp)?  Feedstocks? Remember, typically a pound of redworms will consume 1/2 pound of food a day. There are many, many foodstocks you can use.  Redworms are much easier and less expensive to feed than fish. Without seeing your system it would be hard to tell if it is just limited feed or a combination of things that is causing your population of redworms to be less than you wanted....Even though redworms are fast reproducers (they leave rabbits in the dust!) it still does take time to build up a population of redworms.   There are as many approaches to vermiponics as there are to aquaponics systems designs.

  If you need more answers contact me through messaging so we can keep this thread about AP.  I hope this is helpful.

   Yup! It should work fine. The rounded sides will allow for areation and worm crawling spaces...but you'd be surprized what redworms can get through!

   Best to you in this.  Let us know how it goes!
 
Gary P said:

Converse,

If you use redworms in the growing beds, is it possible to use a smaller gravel than 3/4 inch.  I have about 15 tons of washed river rock, but it is 1/2 inch or less?

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