Jan 19

Fungally Dominated Worm Castings

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Edited: Jan 22

Hello all! I'll just start. So I've had a bag of fresh worm castings for about 4-5 months, and I've been letting it sit in this sort of block without disturbing it except to take some off the top. I was thinking "hey the longer they sit the better, right?" Well. I went to make compost tea for the first time in a while, and I noticed gnats this time around upon opening the bag, so I applied Chef B's logic that since gnats live in the top layer of soil you can just scrape that off to remove their eggs. SO. I then noticed some strange coloring beneath this odd gray patch I noticed on top as I began scraping. So I started digging. The soil beneath was completely brown in one patch and white in another, white. It smelled very strongly of mushrooms, like a mealy, almost metallic smell. I guess I have a couple fungi fighting over my bag of worm castings. It looked like a brown and white rot fungus had taken over portions of the bag. My question is, has anyone used fungally dominated worm castings? And are they safe? I am also wondering if they went anaerobic. In particular, I have read people call contaminated soils "brown soil," and am wondering if this can be generalized to what has happened to my castings... Anyway, I mixed the bag up thoroughly to get it oxygenated. Just curious if anyone else has experience with this sort of thing. Ideas are also welcome! Also, I forgot to take pics, I will see if there is any stuff left but the description is as such: brown and white portions of the center/periphery of castings block, not powdery, they looked tighly bound together and reeked of mushrooms. No putrid smell. The brown part was less visibly bound together but not powdery. White portion looked like settled mycelium if I've ever seen it. Update 1/22/2019: From Paul Stamet's "Mycelium Running," "the soil can retain moisture and yet breathe through the membranous lungs of mycelium." So... I had some lungs in my worm castings it turns out. They would have been putrid if they were anaerobic. The fungi must have been keeping it aerobic. Anyway, I mixed it up because I needed bacterially dominated castings for my tea lol not fungally dominated. I wanted the pH in particular to be high in my soils, for veggies, as that was what I was applying it to (for the most part anyway).

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  • Hi all. Below is a recipe for a homemade organic pro-mix taken from SF Gate. I know Chef has passed but I think this is still an excellent forum to gather on and spread research with. I do think someone should comment on if this web page will exist for long though as well just in case so this valuable research is not deleted! I have back ups just in case but I'll make a seperate post for that. Onto the pro-mix recipe: 1/3 peat moss 1/3 perlite 1/3 organic gardening soil 1/4 cup garden lime per gallon of mix I have tried it and it works. Be careful if you have hard water, you will need to add intermediate chelators (AKA L-Amino Acids) to chelate the calcium, magnesium, etc in your water to prevent transpiration issues etc general salt issues that occur with mixing hard water and this fairly sweet and calcium and magnesium rich soil mix. I recommend going easy on the dolomite lime in general and also go easy on the peat moss, peaty soil is known to compact. If you are gonna be moving plants in pots add more perlite than peat moss because this will help with transpiration issues that come from compaction when moving potted plants around. You'll notice how good this mix smells and works for plants! You'll get very fast growing plants because this mix is focused on high porosity for a very high rate of transpiration and therefore plant mass production! Also note that this mix only feeds plants for a couple weeks and then you will need to add some salts for the plant and soil health. Adding a bit of organic matter to the soil eventually will be a good idea as well to continue feeding your organic base in the soil. I personally have a food web with springtails being consumed by a certain antonymous fungi in my soil I try to keep going. The springtails don't leave the pot and the fungi and springtails provide a ton of nitrogen to the plant, potentially CO2 as well! This cycle has successfully infected all the pots in my house interestingly. Sources: SF Gate Guide for peat moss pH balancing: https://homeguides.sfgate.com/balance-ph-lime-peat-potting-33867.html Peat moss to perlite ratio (Also SF Gate): https://homeguides.sfgate.com/recommended-ratio-peat-moss-perlite-46321.html SF Gate's article on the disadvantages of soil-less media (similar to this growing medium (pro-mix) minus the organic gardening soil): https://homeguides.sfgate.com/disadvantages-soilless-mixes-92328.html SF Gate article on composition of potting soil (good place to start to understand potting soils which are often replaced by soil-less pro-mixes). Also ratios of stuff: https://homeguides.sfgate.com/composition-potting-soil-75052.html On the springtail and fungi note, that is harder to source. The certain springtail eating and red hued mushroom producing fungi comes from Host Defence's Myco-Blend all purpose microbial and biostimulant inoculant and I think the springtails followed me via transporting the same compost over a long period of time. On the transpiration topic: Dr. B.C. Wolverton's book "How to Grow Fresh Air" explains that there is an equation that dictates how much air a plant is filtering dependent upon how much mass the plant produces. This has a lot to do w/ the soil medium. High porosity soil makes for the fastest mass production in plants. PS. If you have your own high porosity pro-mix or something similar please post it here. Of particular interest are environmentally friendly mixes, which the above mentioned mix is not due to the unsustainable peat moss component. Coco coir can be used to replace it (and is more environmentally friendly) but then potassium salts should be added at some point although I am less experienced with that mix so I don't know how soon potassium would be essential. I imagine co co coir may cause issues w/ pH because it may not be super acidic and so dolomite lime may need to be adjusted to lesser quantity per gallon. Also this mix may have too much calcium and magnesium due to coco coir and dolomite lime having so much of these elements. Maybe it'd be fine though. A good pH, texture, and an organic base, and magical things can happen with any soil mix basically.
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