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As I was starting my grow beds I added a few worms that I caught in the garden every time it rained, as every time it rained the worms would find shelter from the water under the planks I left out for them. I added 6 to 10 worms per grow bed during a three week period. The other day when adding new plants I noticed every time I dug a hole in the media I had worms! As worms live on decaying material I started burying leaves of some of my plants that the caterpillars started to eat, so the extra worms could still get a feed. So questions?

1. Is the large percentage off worms the reason for my high Nitrate levels?

2. Should I keep burying leaves to feed the worms?

Thoughts please,

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1. If your worms are multiplying they are doing fine with the food they are getting.

2. The nitrates are coming from bacteria not the worms.

3. If you have a solids filter take it out of the system if you want more worm food in the beds.

I use a bird netting mesh to help filter solids in my filter. I put the dirty mesh in my worm bins and within a day the worms clean it for me and I re-use it. I do the same thing with polyfiber that I use in smaller systems. 

I think worms grow better in the grow beds than in the worm bins. I'm thinking of taking some of my worms out of my grow beds for my raised beds.

Well I did read that worms eat dead or decaying plant matter! Roots decaying leaves. As worms are natures fertilizer, I thought they may be more responsible for the higher levels, as I have reduced the amount of fish to just the three Silver Perch for two months now? I gave my starter goldfish to a mate at work who is starting up his own system. The three barra I have, have been inside for three months now. I think your right about the worms growing faster! I may dig a few up this weekend and see if the Barra like them? The solids filter is staying! As I spent some time last weekend cleaning the sump tank and fish tank. Then the filters twice? I like the idea off pulling out the algae in a bag rather than trying to clean my grow beds, I was expecting the nitrite and ammonia levels to go up as they did when I put the tarps on. But no change so far. Thanks for your input Jeff

I'm curious to know what does become of the worm waste. Does it just pile up in the beds? Guess I'll find out when I re-plant my beds.

The worms will only continue to thrive as long as there is food available for them.  If there is a shortage of food, their numbers will collapse.  If you are putting plant matter into the grow bed, that could be causing an increase of nitrates since it is decaying organic matter... just my thoughts. 

I am not sure, but they sell worm farms as a fertilizer method for gardens, but with a grow beds you have the extra water. But with the IBC system I have, using the lids as grow beds there are ridges for any solids to build up against before they can get sucked out through the bell.



Jeff S said:

I'm curious to know what does become of the worm waste. Does it just pile up in the beds? Guess I'll find out when I re-plant my beds.

Hi Adam.

I have only just started putting the leaves back into the grow beds and my nitrate levels have been much higher in the passed, the last few times I harvested my plants I noticed a large number of worms attached to the roots and clay media, the plants that were struggling had larger amounts of worms attached, that’s what gave me the idea to burry some leaves, so far the leaves are disappearing and a large amount off worms are next to the holes. that’s what has give me the idea that when the rotting roots and other plant material runs low the worms will start to eat the roots of healthy plants?

Its just a thought.

In the ground worms will eat any organic matter. So, yeah, I would think that they would eat some of the roots of the plants. I guess this is why (from what I've read) that if you use worms to not filter the water before the growbed so as to provide them with food. Worm castings ARE an excellent source of nutrients (which ones specifically I'm not sure, but imagine nitrogen would be one) and would be consumed by the plants.
From a site selling worm castings:

"The castings are rich in water-soluble plant nutrients, and contain more than 50% more humus than what is normally found in topsoil. Worm Castings are packed with minerals that are essential for plant growth, such as concentrated nitrates, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and calcium."

So I guess, yeah. Nitrates could be coming from the worms.

Very interesting Adam. I just tested my worm reduction plan on my Barramundi, they didn’t show any interest in the worms only the floating pellets, although I now have sufficient worms in my grow beds I may just start to reduce their number in more humane ways like putting some back into the garden un till I find a better way of limiting their effect on my plants, only time will tell.

Thanks for the input.

I haven't noticed any worms on my plant roots when I pull them. 

Just to repeat, "I use a bird netting mesh to help filter solids in my filter. I put the dirty mesh in my worm bins and within a day the worms clean it for me and I re-use it. I do the same thing with polyfiber that I use in smaller systems". It seems like the worms are looking for more fish waste. Leaves that lay on the surface just seem to rot so that's why I think the worms prefer the poop.

I watched a video that covered a unique way to cut the IBC's to avoid grooves on the bottom.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKqwcy7IJM0&feature=iv&src_...

I find all of his videos informative or at least entertaining LOL.

Here is a clip off my system.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqthLFEJt2c

I have made a few changes since, but it’s a legend off a setup. I watched hundreds of IBC clips before I got my IBCs then I changed plan’s when the two IBCs were different. Caps/rib sides on one IBC. Plus I made my setup kid friendly by having no sharp edges on the frames of the IBCs.

Put this in the grow bed yesterday. I manually removed the worms an hour ago and moved the filter to a different part of the bed. In that hour they found it again and have started cleaning the junk off of the filter. The black parts are where the sludge still is. The blue is obviously the cleaned parts. This illustrates how fast these guys do their job. I didn't bury them (there actually are 2 cartridges in the bed) but just set them on top of it.
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