Earlier in the fall I wrote about some experimental microgreens/baby-greens trays I had set up to test if worms have any sort of obvious impact on the growth of young plants when living in the root zone (jury is still out on that one – but I am continuing to experiment).
As some of you may recall, apart from healthy looking worms (not a single one missing) I also found quite a few cocoons in the worm treatment. So, I thought it would be interesting to continue “playing” with the leftover plants + substrate. I mixed in some shredded cardboard and water, covered everything with a plastic bag, then waited for what I expected would be the decomposition of the plant matter.
What happened next surprised me!
Even with the plastic over top and very dim lighting, a lot of the buried greens started pushing their way up. Once I noticed this was happening I removed the plastic and positioned a small grow light up beside the tray (which sits on top of my styrofoam greens growing chamber). It was a far cry from “proper lighting”, but still seemed to be enough to encourage development of a dense growth of tiny lettuce and kale plants.
I’ve continued adding water to the tray periodically, and also started dumping in spent substrate (containing roots, plant and seed debris) from sunflower baby-greens I’ve been growing. Very recently I even stuck a heartleaf phiodendron shoot into the substrate to see if it might take root and actually grow (it would likely thrive with a lot less light than lettuce and kale).
Apart from the cocoons that were in the original worm-treatment substrate, my most recent batch of spent substrate from sunflower greens actually had some adult Red Worms in it, so it will be interesting to see how the worm population develops over time.
For now I will keep the plant-growing zone in the one corner of the bin, and continue adding finished greens substrate (etc) in the zones surrounding it, but as the materials continue to break down and get converted into rich compost (with the help of the worms) in these other sections I may try getting some plants to grow there as well.
I’ve really been enjoying my sunflower greens (I bought a big bag of sunflower seeds intended for bird feeders – lol) – and they grow quickly – so I suspect I will end up with a fair amount of great fodder for this system.
I’ve always been fascinated by the potential for integrating vermicomposting systems with active plant-growing systems (and have tested out a range of different approaches relating to this), so I am definitely interested to see how things develop.
At some point I’d like to add some uprights and position a clear bag over top to help with moisture-retention, and make it a bit more like a real terrarium. Would be fun to introduce some other critters, like isopods and springtails, as well.
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