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Invisibleboingo
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Registered: 12/06/00
Posts: 5
bulking up a worm castings substrate
    #2657905 - 05/09/04 08:32 PM (12 years, 6 months ago)

hey all - getting back into the hobby again after some time off. i had some decent success in growing dung-loving edibles in straight earthworm castings. what i ended up discovering with straight castings is that they tend to lose moisture really quickly. and they need to be carefully hydrated to avoid becoming muddy and dense.

the obvious thing here is to bulk them up a bit with substances that can act as moisture resevoirs and lighten up the substrate as a whole, and give it a better texture. my initial thoughts are a combination of vermiculite and maybe some coir.

does anyone have a good rule of thumb or experience in castings substrates like this? since verm doesn't bring any nutrients to the party i don't want to use too much. i figure coir might also be good since it's made up of lots of "threads", and from my experiences with casing w/it (no more), the mycelia clearly eat it up.

so anyone out there have any direct experience in substrates like these? or alterately, any rules of thumb? my initial plan is to spend some time with castings and verm, and play with different combinations to get a "feel" for how they come out. i imagine the smart thing to do is moisten the verm first and then mix it in varying proportions with the castings. i just thing there's some old-timer out there with some sage wisdom about how a clump of this stuff in my hand should "feel". thanks in advance...
peace,
boingo


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Invisiblemicro
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Registered: 05/09/03
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Re: bulking up a worm castings substrate [Re: boingo]
    #2658965 - 05/10/04 02:58 AM (12 years, 6 months ago)

Try using straw with the castings....

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Invisiblewizard2k
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Registered: 05/26/03
Posts: 74
Loc: NRW
Re: bulking up a worm castings substrate [Re: boingo]
    #2659096 - 05/10/04 11:29 AM (12 years, 6 months ago)

aloha boingo,

atm I try to use coco coir as substrate. A known issue with coco coir is cobweb mold. Nameko e.g. is growing very fast in a mixture of sawdust and coco coir with moderate moisture and also in a mixture with high moisture. A bottom layer of verimculite might help against to much water in the lower section of the substrate (this can cause mold otherwise).
I would like to ask you, whether you sterilized the worm castings you used for the edibles? Maybe steam pasteurisation might be enough (termophile microflora will survive)?


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Looking for: Volvariella volvacea, Panaeolus Cyanescens and rare edibles. Trades are welcome!


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OfflineMycena
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Re: bulking up a worm castings substrate [Re: wizard2k]
    #2659115 - 05/10/04 11:52 AM (12 years, 6 months ago)

Gymnopilus aeruginosus, oysters, elm oyster,shiitake and reishi all fruit off supplemented coir blocks

Lumninescent Panellus also likes it and glows well in a jar of Coir plus papper pellets supplemented with sesame seed.


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Invisiblewizard2k
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Registered: 05/26/03
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Re: bulking up a worm castings substrate [Re: Mycena]
    #2659165 - 05/10/04 12:11 PM (12 years, 6 months ago)

Wow,
Gymnopilus aeruginosus looks nice http://www.sporeworks.com/images/gym02.jpg

Quote:

...Coir plus papper pellets supplemented with sesame seed.



Mixing substrates is like cooking (interesting recipe)! Would you sterilize a substrate like that?


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Looking for: Volvariella volvacea, Panaeolus Cyanescens and rare edibles. Trades are welcome!


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Offlinedisturbed
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Re: bulking up a worm castings substrate [Re: boingo]
    #2659249 - 05/10/04 12:57 PM (12 years, 6 months ago)

Quote:

boingo said:

does anyone have a good rule of thumb or experience in castings substrates like this? since verm doesn't bring any nutrients to the party i don't want to use too much. i figure coir might also be good since it's made up of lots of "threads", and from my experiences with casing w/it (no more), the mycelia clearly eat it up.





i'm not sure if you realize it or not, but coir has no nutrients in it either...


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Invisiblemycofile
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Re: bulking up a worm castings substrate [Re: disturbed]
    #2659587 - 05/10/04 03:07 PM (12 years, 6 months ago)

Quote:

  A known issue with coco coir is cobweb mold.



I would disagree with that.  I used coir as a part of both substrates and casings for several years and saw not a puff of cobweb.  I would say cobweb is a known issue with improper techniques, not coco coir.

Quote:

Try using straw with the castings....



I'll second that, great combination.  Usually can't be prepared together though, so it complicates things a litttle.
Quote:

I would like to ask you, whether you sterilized the worm castings you used for the edibles? Maybe steam pasteurisation might be enough (termophile microflora will survive)?



Pasteurization has proven effective for me, but keep in mind that might varry by source of castings method of storage etc.  In fact, I've gotten away with no pasturization or sterilization at all, but I wouldn't count on it unless you just want to risk some spawn.
Quote:

i imagine the smart thing to do is moisten the verm first and then mix it in varying proportions with the castings.



I would suggest doing the opposite, mix the verm and castings together when dry, then bring up to moisture.  A hand mixer (like for mixing brownies or stuff) is a great tool for mixing at the dry and moist stages.

Quote:

i just thing there's some old-timer out there with some sage wisdom about how a clump of this stuff in my hand should "feel". thanks in advance...



Who you callin' old, son?  :wink:  It should feel a little more wet than most make their PF mixes.  You've got the moisture right at the often described "field capacity" which will yield a little water when squeezed, but not much (usually, it reabsorb whatever water you squeezed out if you release it quickly, I call this the squish test.  If you don't hear a squish, it's too dry.  If you see water dripping out when you hear the squish, it's too wet).  Also, dry verm/castings mixes don't usually stick to your hand much but when the moisture is right, it will leave your palm black after the squish test.

I never experimented too much, but have been pleased with the results in the 25% verm to 50% verm range.

Also, using a slightly nutritious water for moistening might help offset the nutrient dillution caused by the verm.  Not really nutritious, just like castings tea, compost tea or some such.  If you were lucky enough to get your hands on some of mycota's LNS, this would be the place to use it.


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Invisibleboingo
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Registered: 12/06/00
Posts: 5
Re: bulking up a worm castings substrate [Re: mycofile]
    #2661536 - 05/11/04 01:53 AM (12 years, 6 months ago)

straw and i have always had a testy relationship. and, alas, it's not so easy to find in a Major Metropolitan Area(TM).  i used to prep castings with just some ghetto sterilization in the microwave.  i plan to be a little more rigorous and use the oven for pasteurization.

mycofile, thanks for the tips - great descriptions. rather, thank your elder care nurse for typing them out :wink:  the dry mixing of the verm/castings makes more sense, on reflection - that way the verm can soak up mositure in sync with the castings, probably giving a more even wetting to the mix.  more details as my experiments resume...
peace,
boingo


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Amazon Shop for: ½ Pint Jars, Coir, Vermiculite

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