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Planting Seeds in Worm Castings

Discussion in 'Plants' started by Peter Webber, Dec 12, 2011.

  1. Peter Webber

    Peter Webber Member

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    Country:
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    Springwood
    Hi Guys,

    I usually start my seeds in vermiculite and perlite, but I thought I would experiment with worm castings. My worm farm produced some wonderful castings that seemed to have the structure of really good quality soil. So I tried planting some Lettuce, Cucumber, Carrots and Capsicum in the castings to see what would happen. Two months later only weed seeds have germinated. Why do you think this was? I think that either the castings was too good at retaining moisture and the seeds rotted. I have also considered the possibility that the mixture was somehow too rich and killed them somehow. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?
     
  2. MattySEQ

    MattySEQ New Member

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    Hey peter i'm not sure exactly why but anymore than 20% worm castings can be harmfulll to plants, I've tried mixes of 50/50 before and not any seeds took
     
  3. dufflight

    dufflight Member

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    I use worm castings to start seeds. Works well.
    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
  4. Peter Webber

    Peter Webber Member

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    Hi Duff,

    It looks like you leave the seeds uncovered on the little blocks of castings is that right?
     
  5. tpilk

    tpilk Super Moderator

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    There seems to be some conflicting info out there on the subject. I've been reading up on the it recently and I've read in one book that the castings should be crushed and sifted finely to make an excellent sprouting media. I read in a different book, something similar to what Matty was mentioning - about 20% added to potting mix or peat for starting seeds, mostly because often sprouting media has no nutrient component. Further, any higher % of castings has a nuetral to negative effect.

    Looks like Dufflight has proven it can be done. I'm interested in what others have experienced.

    Cheers
     
  6. dufflight

    dufflight Member

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    Small seeds can sit on the media. Others I cover. The castings blocks are kept under a humidity cover. In AP due to the amount of water that is moving around, using 100% castings works well. Plus I don't have to add soil mixes that I'm not sure how they were made.

    The seeds in the 1st picture are radish so they were placed in small holes with a speck of media over the tops. Below is what the radish's look like grown in AP.
    [​IMG]
     
  7. MattySEQ

    MattySEQ New Member

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    thats awesome I i bet the humidity is the trick maybe the seeds the ones I plan were chilli seeds.
     
  8. Yabbies4me

    Yabbies4me Administrator Staff Member

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    While Duff seems to have great success germinating seeds in pure castings, and if you can make it work it seems like a great way to add nutrient/trace elements to your AP system while also eliminating transplant stress... I have to agree with you Peter:
    I've found similar. I recently planted 16 corn seeds, 8 each in 2 separate punnets, one with straight potting mix, the other with potting mix topped with castings... I got a very obvious result.

    I filled both the punnets to 2/3 with well aged potting mix (what I normally always use for my seedlings), sat the corn seeds on the potting mix, then in one punnet I completely filled the remaining 1/3 to the top of the punnet with potting mix, as I normally do. For the second punnet I filled the top 1/3 with worm castings... The punnet with straight potting mix had a 100% germination rate and healthy seedlings. In the punnet topped with castings... only 3 of the 8 seeds germinated and the seedlings were far less vigorous than those grown in straight potting mix.

    Also, when I transplant seedlings into my dirt veg’ garden, I loosen the soil with a small trowel to about 150-200mm in diameter and depth, then turn a small handful (palmful) of worm castings into that loosened soil. I recently experimented and added a large, “full” handful of castings to a number of the holes… those seedlings that received less castings actually grow faster and looked healthier… So IMO, from my own experiences, you can over feed with worm castings, especially on seedlings.

    Cheers, Yabbies.
    .
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2011
  9. benwalters

    benwalters Member

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    Dufflight,
    do you water seedlings? or is there enough moisture retained in castings especially as they are kept under cover
    cheers
    ben
     
  10. francois

    francois Member

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    Port Elizabeth
    Hi all
    I have also planted directly into castings
    In stones as grow media I would make small hole as deep as my water level and add castings to fill to the hole to the level I want to plant the seed, you drop your seed onto the casting and you cover
    With castings and leave, this also help's the seed falling only so deep...
    I drop the seed on top of castings and then cover the seed with castings
    the casting that are at the bottem should only be min in the water to draw moisture to keep the castings damp
    not to deep not to shallow
    Works ok
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2011
  11. dufflight

    dufflight Member

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    Still have to add water(not a lot). Even under cover the water will condense on the plastic and slowly draw water away from the seedlings.
    It also helps not to compress the castings. They are pretty fine and if you compress the media too much that may effect germination.
     
  12. Rohanjcp

    Rohanjcp New Member

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    Country:
    Usa
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    Hello dufflight


    I use a similar setup as yours but I get the problem of powdery mold forming. Do you have any suggestion to prevent this?

    Thank you.
     

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