A Tale of Three Vermicomposts

Happy Independence Day to all those of you in the U.S.!
8)

Not too long ago, I posted a video discussing how vermicomposts can differ considerably, depending on the system being used, the materials being vermicomposted, and the experience level of the person taking care of the system (among other factors). If you missed that one, be sure to check out this post: A Look at Different Vermicomposts

As mentioned in the video, my plan has been to test out three of the different vermicomposts I currently have available:
1) WF-360 vermicompost
2) Worm Inn vermicompost
3) Farmyard manure vermicompost

Today I set up my first (multi-pronged) experiment. The main thrust will involve testing each of these vermicomposts mixed with potting soil and used to grow pickling cucumbers. Unlike most of my other “experiments” as of late, I set this one up in more of a scientific manner – with three reps per treatment.

All soil mixes contain 2 parts bagged (“Black Earth”) potting soil to 1 part vermicompost (so roughly 33% vermicompost by volume, unless my math skills have really gone down hill! lol). I used a small plastic pot as my measuring cup to scoop the materials and then dump them into my mixing tray.

Once I was satisfied that the soil was thoroughly mixed with the vermicompost I filled three small pots with it. This same procedure was repeated for each vermicompost. One thing worth mentioning, though, was the fact that I added more of the WF-360 vermicompost than the other two (as you can see below, the pot was overflowing rather than simply being filled to the rim). I did this because the moisture content of this material was considerably higher than both of the other ones (which seemed to be very similar to one another). Obviously, if this was a “real” scientific study I’d make sure to standardize everything (same moisture content etc etc), but I think “close enough” is just fine in this case.

For comparative purposes I felt it was also important to include a treatment containing ONLY the bagged soil (no vermicompost) – so I was left with a total of 12 pots. Each pot received three cucumber seeds, the aim being to increase my chances of ending up with at least one decent plant per pot (the best one being kept for the experiment).

I had some left-over mix (for each) so I set up another smaller trial (of the non-scientific kind – haha) with one pot per treatment. I thought it would be fun to see how these mixes compared for growing passion flowers from seed.

I also thought it might also be interesting to see how these vermicomposts compared (for growing cucumbers) when used as the sole potting material (i.e. 100% vermicompost). Once again, I’ve only set up one rep per treatment, but I don’t think I’ll lose too much sleep over it!

Definitely looking forward to seeing how these three vermicomposts compare! I predict that the manure vermicompost will have the most “fertilizer” power, but beyond that I’m not really sure what to expect.

Should be interesting!
8)

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Comments

  1. Where’s the ‘control’ plant pot? Add another one, plain ‘black earth’ to
    see if yours are any improvement at all over a vanilla grown plant?

    [At least that’s what they do in the gardening program plant trials]

    Dave

    • Bentley
    • July 5, 2012

    Hi Dave,
    I have three control pots for my main experiment (as mentioned), but you’re right – there were no controls for my two additional “fun” trials. They are mostly just for comparing the vermicomposts to one another in terms of plant growth.
    BUT…now that I think about it, I would like to have a control pot to compare with the 100% vermicompost pots! Will set that up today.
    Thanks for the nudge!

    B

    • Marty
    • July 5, 2012

    Bentley,

    I’m looking forward to the results of your experiments. This is truly going to show some interesting results. Question – was the WF-360 and Worm Inn both ‘fed’ similar types of food? Interesting to see how much more moisture is in the WF vs. the Worm Inn. I’ve seen similar results in my WF and thought maybe it was too wet (visually), but when you run it through your hands it does crumble up quite nicely. The WF vericompost also looks a lot more earthy verse the others.

    Marty

  2. This is very interesting Bentley. I always wondered how my rabbit waste fed worms compares to other systems. I do know that I have never had okra like I have it this year. All my plants are aggressive producers and are already over 7 feet tall. We are cutting okra every 1-2 days and the area I am growing them in is about 18 inches deep in worm castings and rabbit waste.

    • Bentley
    • August 2, 2012

    Sounds great, Kevin!
    No wonder this vermicomposting stuff ends up becoming so addictive, eh?? lol

    • Bentley
    • August 2, 2012

    Sorry Marty – I keep getting my response order mixed up! lol
    I would say the two systems were fed in a fairly similar manner, but I think the key is that the Worm Inn vermicompost was allowed to “cure” properly, while the WF-360 stuff was not.
    I definitely need to try this again, making sure to operate both of those systems properly before collecting vermicompost.

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