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Old 02-27-2010, 08:50 PM
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Orchids and Worm Castings

I got my wife a moth Orchid for Vday. I have read that a monthy feeding of worm castings mixed with an inch or two of water, that the whole pot is set in, is the best way to feed an orchid. Does anyone have experiance with this method? It is my understanding that the chemical salts of "regular" fertilizer are bad for orchids. I'm a worm guy (vermicomposter) - so this is great for me, but I want to make sure, before I start telling people (customers) to care for thier prized orchids in this way. Any down sides? I don't see any. Thanks
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Old 02-27-2010, 09:45 PM
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Well, if you ask 10 different people you will get 10 different opinions as to the "best way" to feed and orchid. The truth of the matter is that there is no "best way" but that different people have discovered what works best for them. If the chemical salts found in regular fertilizer actually harmed orchids, the manufacturers would stop making it because no one would buy it. Lots of members here use commercial fertilizers with good results. Some forum members also use worm casings and hopefully they'll be along soon to share their experiences with it. I'd recommend that if you like the idea of worm castings in water and letting your orchid sit and soak it up, then give it a try and let us know what your results are. I'd be surprised if this method harmed your orchid in any way so why not give it a try. The bottom line is that there are many different approaches to and methods of fertilizing nearly all of which have their proponents and detractors.
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Old 02-27-2010, 10:14 PM
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Is your orchid potted in hydroton? If not what medium is your orchid growing in, bark / moss, as this will greatly effect how to water and care for your orchid...

Worm castings can be used as a source of fertilizer, are you referring to dry castings or actual compost worm tea as the benefits / results vary between the two.

Most balanced fertilizers are fine for orchids, many growers will fertilize at half or quarter strength each watering. There are also many that do not use fertilizers at all; it's really a personal choice.
I fertilize my plants according to the growing season and the needs of the plant; but will flush the pot with fresh water in-between fertilizing to flush out any residual minerals etc... Using fertilizers at varying strength's during different times of the growing season can compliment the growth of the plant.
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Old 02-27-2010, 10:44 PM
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I have a Phalanopsis potted in bark chips. I was actually refurring to mixing dry castings with water - not full fledged compost tea. I have had good results with other plants and "brewed" (aact) compost tea. What are some of the varying results you speak of? The other part of the info I have is to only feed while the plant is activitly growing. This seems logical. Thanks for accetping newbie questions in this fourm.
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Old 02-27-2010, 11:59 PM
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Dry castings do provide benefit, full fledge compost worm tea provides live micro organism oppose to dry castings so the effects of the tea are much greater. I am just learning about the use's myself

Feel free to use the search feature of the forum to pull up other threads about worm castings and worm tea, there are plenty floating around with great info

Not sure about letting it steep in a tray of water / fert mix though with a bark medium, having never done this with any of plants. It could be done I suppose during time of watering after the medium is already moist though I would not allow the plant to sit in the water for too long; to avoid rot.

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Old 02-28-2010, 04:49 AM
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G'day Tfyguy
I give my Phalies a leaf feeding mist once a week with Worm Tea, (weak Solution)
once a week the they love it.
Bob from West Oz
PS Where do you keepyour orchids in WINTER?
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Old 02-28-2010, 07:08 AM
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According to Jerry Meola, one of the advocates of worm tea (which I believe he calls vermiliquid) here on the forum says that worm tea is not a fertilizer, but instead (if I understand correctly) a supplier of microbes that break down organic material so the plant can absorb the organic nutrients.
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Old 02-28-2010, 07:52 AM
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dry worm castings are worm manure with a better name. It is a good fertilizer, better than cow manure but not as good as composted chicken manure. Organic growing is experimenting with a lot of formerly landfill items that can be recycled into beneficial products.

I think it will do well for Tfyguy.

Dissolving in water does not create vermi-liquid which is the microbes from the worm liquid in a worm bed. It does create a means of applying the castings in an easy manner.

Castings are a very good fertilizer and vermi-liquid is the microbes from a worm bed they are not the same think and not interchangeable. They do different things and both are good for their purpose.
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Old 02-28-2010, 09:07 AM
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Here's another related thread on the same subject: http://www.orchidgeeks.com/forum/orc...air-pumps.html
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Old 02-28-2010, 09:25 AM
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Here is a "must read" book Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web, Revised Edition byJeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis, They handle soil microbiology and the use of compost, mulch and compost tea. It is high quailty work with great pictures. Thanks for all of your responses.
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Old 02-28-2010, 07:00 PM
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tfyguy i use vermiliquid from my worm farm mix at ratio 40 to 1 with tank water which is from rain water.
so far so good.
with worm castings you can use as slow release fertiliser on top of pots.
or get yourself a drum with tap fill up stocking with worm castings tie up stocking.
fill drum with water put stocking in there close it up.
after about 2 to 4 weeks you can use it dilute 40 to1 mixture.
i feed my cyms once a fortnight is sufficent.
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Old 03-01-2010, 07:48 AM
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CYM1972 you said
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vermiliquid from my worm farm
do you mean the lecahate that drains from your worm farm? Some people call that "worm tea" and the same term is often used for compost tea that is made from worm catings. Which of these is the "vermiliquids" you use? Thanks everyone for the info!
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Old 03-02-2010, 03:32 AM
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Whats up Tfyguy!! I too am a fellow worm guy and hoping to brew some worm tea as soon as the weather warms up here in TX. I guess I keep my bins on the dry side considering I've never encountered worm runoff.
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Old 03-02-2010, 10:30 PM
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yes the lechate is also known in australia as vermiliquid.
worm tea is made from castings.
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Old 05-20-2018, 11:29 PM
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Worm leachate not tea

Just to clear a couple of things up in terms of worm tea and the liquid that comes off the worm bed when you open the spigot. First, the liquid that accumulates at the bottom of the worm box is not worm tea - it is called worm leachate. It must be removed or it will buildup and suffocate/kill your worms. It is the same as a city dumpís runoff from the rotting of wastes. If you have a lot (cups in a small bed) you may be feeding too much and/or using too wet a material. This liquid has not passed through the worm yet - castings look like tiny dark pellets and has a earthy smell with no off smell. Worm leachate is strictly rotting food and you do not want to use this on indoor plants (will stink [think garbage can], draw flies, etc ) and certainly not on your vegetable garden due to pathogens and bad anaerobic bacteria. If you want to use on non edible plants - dilute a min. of 1-1 and probably 1-10 - no way to say because each leachate composition will be different but is definitely anaerobic and nasty. Many folks who raise worms pour it down the toilet - I donít recommend this particularly if you have septic system. That said, you can pour it over a very hot compost pile (220F+) or maybe start a new pile. Some add it to fresh bedding for worms. The best Worm tea, whether to use to water with or as a foliage spray, is made by taking 6-8 cups of castings, tie up in filter bag (cheesecloth, paint strainer bag, pantyhose, etc), drop into 5 gallon bucket and add 4 gallons of unchlorinated water preferably rain water. Drop a large fish aquarium air stone or wand (the more oxygen the better) in for 24 hours (some say overnight, some say 3 days). You will want to use immediately after removing the bubbler as the microbes will begin to die off. If you know you have high quality castings (nice earthy smell), you can add 1 oz of unsulfured molasses to feed the microbes at the beginning of brew. Worm castings tea seems good with orchids, wonderful with roses and most all plants from garden to veggies though I havenít seen any test trials. I do not spray fruits or vegetables I will eat raw with any microbe products. It is why we keep getting issues with greens and ecoli, various other bacteria etc - being sprayed with biosolids (sewage waste). Studies have been done that show benefit from oxygenated water to plants - read Dramm water breaker white paper and any studies on hydroponics and oxygenating nutrient/water solutions plus not letting it get hot.

Note- if you use tap water you kill the microbes (same with probiotics) and because just about all tap water now has chloramines- it canít be evaporated off like plain chlorine. They went to chloramines due to a need for more stable source of disinfection, i.e., that doesnít evaporate. The only way to remove these from tap water is filtration through activated charcoal - carbon blocks better than granular. Note if a filter doesnít say it removes chloramines (chlorine and ammonia) then it doesnít. Some say use Campten tablets but these are used to create a sanitizing solution - not good for roots nor microbes. Vitamin C 1000 mg/bathtub will remove for bathing but not applicable for tender orchid roots, and boiling water 30+ minutes will remove but also removes vital oxygen. Fish tank dechloraminating products will do the same but if used incorrectly or in the wrong amount will tie up oxygen and cause fish to suffocate - probably not good for orchid roots either. The compounds employed in commercial fish aquarium dechlorinators are: sodium thiosulfate, Sodium hydroxymethanesulfonate (used in AmQuel), and Sodium hydroxymethane sulfinic acid (used in Marineland Bio-safe) - donít know why these are good for fish either. Probably why many serious fish folks donít use them.

Hopefully I have made the point to use rainwater. Distilled water is expensive and involves lots of plastic bottles as does bottled water. RO is used by many but at the cost of much wasted discharge water unless plumbed to direct to a holding tank for toilets etc. - the discharge is full of heavy metals, chemicals but also removes good minerals. All RO systems produces water waste. Those that call themselves "zero waste" by use of an electric pump to do something with that waste water, i.e., circulate it back into the system (which wears down the filter components more quickly) or push the contaminated waste water into the hot water line (ends up in your dishwasher or on your hands when you use the hot water), etc. You can buy a more efficient RO system to help reduce the water waste ratio by installing a Permeate Pump, however these are more expensive and there will still be waste water - there is no way around it.
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Old 05-21-2018, 06:04 AM
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Wow, thanks for the information. That is really good to know.
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Old 08-05-2018, 11:19 PM
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Bolero - thank you. Hope it was of benefit to you and others who are on same wave length. 😎
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Old 08-17-2018, 06:27 PM
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Rosebudforglory:
Sorry, but when you post about greens being sprayed with biosolids, it is very clear that you have no idea what you are talking about. That would be highly illegal, given the number of months (14) that would be required between the time biosolds are applied and when crops like greens could be harvested. I am speaking from a background of 23 years in environmental issues related to biosolds.
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