Earth Box and Worm Castings

otownjeffJune 29, 2009

The Earth Box instructions are pretty clear that your fertilizer strip is all you need. I don't have access to dry, granulated fertilizer that is organic. I don't mind using chemical fertilizer, anyway.

Just wondering about my worm castings. Some people call them a fertilizer but can I add them to the potting mix as a soil conditioner?

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

They won't really 'condition' the soil - only make it hold more water. They also add very little in the way of nutrients. They're probably ok in very small volumes, but not of much benefit (more apt to be a problem) in container soils. The SWCs would be a little more forgiving of their use than conventional containers, btw.


    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 8:53AM
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Thanks, A1.

Container gardening in Philippines is rather primitive. Tons of perlite are produced here and exported but you can't buy it in the stores. Vermculite is non-existent. A larger city might have one or two hardware stores that sell potting mix.

The focus here is 100% on reducing costs and increasing yields for farmers. Vermicasting is big and supported by several government programs to reduce waste because of population density.

I'm trying to raise awareness about container gardening and am making SWCs for sale at cost. People generally need to make their own compost and mix it with coir and perlite. Both are abundant and cheap but the perlite is hard to find. Sure wish the worm castings were a boon to the SWC. Philippines is all over that, lol.

Thanks, again.

Take care.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 2:40AM
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BTW.... from Wikipedia...

Vermicompost, or Vcompost, is the heterogenous mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste, bedding materials, and pure vermicast produced during the course of normal vermiculture operations. Vermicast, similarly known as worm castings, worm humus or worm manure, is the end-product of the breakdown of organic matter by some species of earthworm.

Containing water-soluble nutrients and bacteria, vermicompost is an excellent, nutrient-rich organic fertilizer and soil conditioner.[1] The process of producing vermicompost is called vermicomposting.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 3:01AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I'm not trying to be obstinate, but if you research the NPK content & look closely at the other nutrients in worm castings, you'll see they are very low in what they actually supply. Their value is generally considered much greater when added to mineral soils, as compared to a nearly all organic media.

Good luck! ;o)


    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 9:24AM
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As a long time earthbox user I can tell you that adding a pinch or castings isn't going to harm anything, they really aren't adding a lot of value either.

If you were to use them as a significant portion of the mix you would very likely find the mix staying soggy wet and plant growth poor.

If you google 'earthbox forum' you will find they run their own forum where you can discuss with other users as well as community managers what folks in countries without easy access to more traditional ingredients are using and how they are working out.

The unfortunately reality is that even in top watered containers the studies on various potting mix materials are pretty consistent. The smaller the particle size of the ingredients, the lower the air porosity and the lower the air porosity, the lower the growth rate of the plants.

Moist vermicompost has a texture similar to clay. Mary Applehoff, author of 'Worm's Eat My Garbage' indicated that going much over 10% of a potting mix with vermicompost saw a drop in results. That was for top watered containers where one could control watering. I suspect it would be worse in a SWC.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 10:14AM
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If you can't incorporate vermicompost into your soil mix then you might consider making a tea and spraying your plants.

I made a tea the other day with molasses as the only other ing added. I watered the soil and sprayed the plants. The greening effect over the next couple of days was noticable.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 7:15PM
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Thanks, everyone.

Worm castings here are big for vegetable and rice fields. Just don't have a really big role to play in my SWCs. I accept it. hehe. I'll probably add a handful to each SWC just to say I did. LOL.

Anyway, point gratefully taken that worm castings are a much better additive for mineral soils and not potting mixes.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2009 at 8:30AM
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Earthworm castings around here are ridiculously high priced, where are you that they are cheap enough to use in a rice field? How much does it cost, and I assume a farmer would have to buy them by the ton to do any good in a large field?

    Bookmark   June 19, 2010 at 8:06PM
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