Woo's Worms
Vermicomposting
Experiments
The place where the good folks gather.
From time to time I run experiments to learn more about growing worms and the benefits of Worm compost. I am not a biologist or an expert, but I offer my findings which you may find of interest. Please email questions and comments.
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Experiment #1 - I wanted to see the effect of using worm compost on my beds when I grow yellow shallots. In March of 2009 I prepared two small beds side by side for planting shallots. I top dressed the bed on the right with about 2 lbs of fresh worm castings (compost) WC from my worm boxes. The bed on the left received no worm castings, but both beds had been given regular compost in the fall of 2008. The results were slightly larger shallots with larger quantities.
You can see by the picture below how much greener the bed with the worm castings appeared during the growing season. My conclusion is the WC was definitely beneficial. I plan to repeat this experiment next year with more scrutiny and pictures.
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Experiment #2 -Bob Wells DBA New England Biochar at the Orleans Farmers' Market gave me some biochar to see how it might work with vermicomposting. My first experiment was to grind up some garbage and add biochar to see how the worms react to the mixture. I prepared three 8 oz. portions of the ground garbage. See picture below. The one on the left #1 has 50/50 biochar and garbage, the middle #2 container has 25/75 biochar and garbage, and the one on the right #3 has no biochar. I put the 3 portions of food in a worm box with active African Nightcrawlers. Garbage consisted of banana, onion, lettuce, celery, beet greens, pasta, tomato, etc.  Results pending.
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Day 1 8/21/09
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Day 4 8/24/09
Day 4 results - No significant results yet. Worms were present at the base of all 3 piles. There seemed to be a few more at pile #1. Piles 2 and 3 turned white for some reason.
Day 8 - Pile #1 remains. Only larger biochar remains
Day 6 results - After 2 more days all piles have been consumed considerably.  Pile #1 seems to be the smallest. They maybe just be eating the garbage and leaving the biochar. Time will tell.
Day 6 8/26/09
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What is Biochar? Play video below.
Day 7 results - Since yesterday worms pretty much finished off pile #1 with 50/50 biochar and garbage. Some larger pieces of biochar where left. Two other piles still have quite a bit to be consumed.
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Day 7 8/27/09
Some larger pieces of biochar remain --------------------------------->
Day 8 results - Piles #1 and #2 are gone. Only some larger pieces of biochar remain. #3 just has a little bit of garbage left. It will be gone by tomorrow. Conclusions: Biochar is not objectionable to worms. They appear to have ingested some of the fine pieces leaving the big pieces. Pile #1 was consumed first, but that may be due to fact there was less garbage rather than a preference for the  biochar. I am not sure which applies. Pile #2 with less biochar was consumed after #1, and large pieces of biochar were left. The all garbage pile #3 took the longest for the worms to eat, but that may have been do to the volume of garbage. See close up pics below.
Day 8 8/28/09
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Day 8 - Pile #2 remains. A very little garbage with larger pieces of biochar.
Day 8 - Pile #3 remains. Worms finishing off the end of the garbage.
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Experiment #3 - This is the result of an experiment I did last year with 2 small same size broccoli plants. One was fed with Worm Compost tea and the other was not.  Result were not dramatic, but the plant getting the tea at the right is definitely greener and a little bigger.
Experiment #4 - A redo of experiment #2 requested by Bob Wells of New England Biochar. On 9/9/09 I started experiment. I ground up a large amount of garbage for the experiment. I measured out three 8 oz. containers of garbage by volume not weight. To container #1 I added 8 oz. by volume of biochar. To container #2 I added 4 oz. of biochar. No biochar was added to container #3. I mixed the containers well that had the biochar. Then I dumped the 3 containers in separate piles in my African Nightcrawler box. See pictures below.
More Biochar information here
Ground garbage - water melon, lettuce, onions, corn,
potatoes, aspargus, broccoli, tomatoes, & etc.
#1 container with 8 oz. garbage & 8 oz. of biochar
#2 container with 8 oz. garbage & 4 oz. of biochar
#3 container with 8 oz. garbage & no biochar
Box before adding test piles of food. 
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3 piles after being added to box.
Day 1 - Worms are starting to feed on the piles.
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Day 2 - More worms feeding on piles. There seems to be more activity around biochar piles.
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Day 3 - Worms still feeding actively around piles. There still seems to be more activity around biochar piles.
Day 4 - Worms seem to be eating more of pile #1. See close up to the right.
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Day 4 - Pile #1 with the most biochar
Day 5 - Worms still eating heavy on biochar piles. close ups of piles to right.
Day 5 - Pile #1 close up
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Day 5 - Pile #2 close up
Day 6 - Pile #1 is almost gone. Worms working on Pile #2 and #3. Using new Cannon G10 camera.
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Day 6 - Pile #1 Close up. Mostly eaten.
Day 6 - Pile #2 Close up. Since most of food has been eaten from Pile #1, they are now concentrating on Pile #2 & #3
Day 7 - Pile #1 is gone. Worms working on Pile #2 and #3.
Day 7 - Pile #2 is almost gone. Worms finishing up remaining food. Most are working on Pile  #3.
Day 7 - Pile #3 Worms concentration here since pile #2 is almost depleted.
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Day 8 - All piles have been eaten. Only a little food left in area of  pile #3.
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Day 8 - Pile #3 - Only a little food is left.
Results of experiment #4: Worms definitely favored food that included biochar mix. The pile with 50/50 biochar to garbage was consumed first. Most of biochar seemed to be consumed and ended up as worm castings. Only the large pieces of biochar were not eaten. It took 9 days for all the food to be eaten.
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