Worm composting science facts are helpful to understand how important vermicomposting is to the health of the soil. This is a continuation of a summary of worm composting facts from a survey in Australia. Please see my blog post Worm Compost Science Education Facts for the the introduction and more science facts on worm composting. There is a lot of information here so I divided it into two blog posts. In this picture you can see worms working on creating worm compost from a cantaloupe rind.
More Worm Composting Science Facts:
In all growth trials the best growth responses were exhibited when the vermicompost made up a relatively small proportion (10-20%) of the total volume of the container medium. (p. 17)
Surprisingly greater proportions of vermicast in the plant growth medium have not always improved plant growth. (p. 17)
There is a substantial body of evidence to demonstrate that microbes, including bacteria, fungi, etc. also produce ‘plant growth regulators’ such as: auxins, gibberellins, cytokinins, ethylene, and ascorbic acids. (p. 18)
Since microbe population is significantly boosted by earthworms, large quantities of ‘plant growth regulators” are available in vermicompost. (p. 18)
Vermicompost is rich in humic acid which promotes plant growth and nutritional uptake. (p. 19)
Several studies have shown that earthworms effectively bioaccumulate or biodegrade several organic and inorganic chemicals. (p. 19)
Vermicompost use in crops inhibits soil-born fungal diseases. (p. 19)
The ability of pathogen suppression disappeared when the vermicompost was sterilized, indicating that the biological mechanism of disease suppression involved was microbial antagonism. (p. 19)
Buckerfield found that the stimulatory effect of vermicompost on plant growth was apparently destroyed when it was sterilized. (p. 22)
The page number at the end of each fact gives the reference to the research in the original survey! As you can see there has been a lot of favorable research on worm composting.
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I created a PowerPoint video which I saved as a movie, as an Introduction to Worm Composting. This is a very good introduction with my own photos and video clips on my experiences with worm composting. I tell you what common mistakes I have made to save you from making these mistakes yourself! There are two choices:
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This is becoming a big problem: deer eating sunflowers! Here we are again this year with this problem. I didn’t think I would ever have to deal with this problem of deer eating sunflowers because I live in a city neighborhood. I haven’t actually seen the deer this year but my neighbors have. I did see the sunflowers eaten in my son’s garden in Cleveland. I saw the tops eaten right off. There are deer all over the place in his neighborhood even a fawn looking in his sliding glass door.
What to Do? Deer Eating Sunflowers
I had this beautiful volunteer sunflower growing. It grew 2-3 feet tall already. We went away for a few days and something had eaten 3-4 leaves. Something had also chomped off some baby sunflower plants, in a different part of the garden, You can see a few of the stems in this picture. Apparently the something eating these plants is deer. Burdock is growing in the background. The deer ate one or two bites out of those huge leaves but not so much. Apparently the deer don’t like burdock so much!
In the past the deer ate my green beans. I put a plastic fence around the green beans which protected them quite well. It is just a pain when you want to pick green beans. But it is better to move the fence and have green beans to pick then to have the deer eat them. I will put a fence around my baby sunflowers but when they get larger I am not sure what to do yet. Here is a pic of one of the baby plants eaten off.
The plant looks quite large but it was only about 10 inches high. The large burdock leaf in the background makes the sunflower look bigger. Last year we tried garlic repellent around the plants. They deer still ate them. I don’t know if it would have been worse without the garlic?? Also I have put out vinegar in milk jugs to protect my raspberries from the drosophilia fruit fly. I am wondering if vinegar is a repellent because we didn’t have so much deer damage when we kept up with the vinegar.
Now All the Leaves Are Eaten
When I went out this morning my beautiful big sunflower which you see in the top picture was gone. Here is a picture of the damage. All the sunflower leaves are gone. Alas! I just gotta get those sunflowers big enough so the deer can’t reach the leaves!
Today I searched the internet for a solution to the deer problem. I will post when I have any good news. At the moment I am using plastic fencing and vinegar in milk bottles. Check out this link for keeping deer out of your garden.
I have discovered the hugelkultur composting method! For years I have had the dilemma of what to do with the debris from my garden. This includes fallen branches and dead flower and vegetable stalks. I didn’t want to bag them up to be deposited in the landfill. I made a few compost piles with this garden debris. Read my last post on sticks in the compost pile for my conclusions about adding sticks and stalks to the compost pile.
Introduced to Hugelkultur Composting Method
A while ago, Veterans Compost emailed me a link to an article about the hugelkultur composting method. Hugelkultur involves creating a mound by piling soil, leaves, compost and any other vegetable matter around tree stumps and branches until you have built up a structure 3-4 feet high. Some people dig a trench first to put the tree stumps in. This is not necessary. You can create this mound on top of the ground saving yourself a lot of work digging!
It is actually a huge raised bed shaped like a small hill. The theory is that as the wood breaks down and composts, it will supply nutrients to whatever is growing and help retain water in the mound. There are pictures on the internet of these hugelkultur mounds (be sure to scroll down on the page to see the pictures). There are all kinds of plants growing abundantly out of them. The good thing is that the mound is permanent. You don’t have to dig it out or turn it as you do with a compost pile. So you don’t have to sort through the sticks and stalks that haven’t composted yet.
Hugelkultur comes from the Permaculture Community
Permaculture comes from the first part of the word permanent and the second part of the word agriculture. This term was introduced by David Holmgren and his teacher, Bill Mollison, in 1978. Permaculture is creating ecosystems that are sustainable and self-sufficient.
Hugelkultur gets its ideas from watching what happens in a forest as fallen trees decompose. With a hugelkultur mound, the wood is covered with soil, compost, leaves etc. to enable it to decompose faster.
My Version of a Hugelkultur Mound
I loved this idea of composting. No tree stumps were available for me to compost. So I modified this idea using lots of branches and garden debris. Last fall I started making a long pile of these. I would layer my pile with leaves, compost and soil , then garden debris and then repeat. If making a mound with tree stumps works I feel that my method will work also! You can get an idea of my mound from this picture. It is about 2 feet high. I am going to plant it with Tahitian Melon Squash. I will keep you posted on how it progresses! Continue reading →