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Vermicompost - can it be used instead of ordinary compost?

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Vermicompost - can it be used instead of ordinary compost? Empty Vermicompost - can it be used instead of ordinary compost?

Post  raymondaitken on 4/4/2010, 6:15 pm

I am living in the south of France (04230 Forcalquier). A group of us are getting together to start using the SFG method. We have a local source of vermicompost (lombricompost in French), which is claimed to be superior to ordinary compost. (1) Can we use vermicompost instead of ordinary compost to obtain "Mel's Mix"? (2) If so, can we use it in the same proportions to the other ingredients (1/3)? (3) Is there any advantage or disadvantage in using vermicompost for SFG? - here is some information about vermicompost on Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vermicompost
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Post  Retired Member 1 on 4/4/2010, 6:56 pm

First let me say welcome.

Vermicompost is an excellent compost to use in Mel's mix, but also use other compost as well so as to get a balance of nutrients. I am no expert as this is my first year using Mel's mix, but if the worms were fed a large variety of products, I might count the vermicompost as two or three parts of the compost mixture and add just two or three other kinds.

I am not aware of any disadvantages to using vermicompost. As a matter of fact some of us on this forum are beginning to keep worm farms.
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Post  raymondaitken on 4/5/2010, 3:47 am

[quote="belfrybat"]First let me say welcome.

Thanks for the welcome and advice.
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Post  LaFee on 4/5/2010, 4:43 am

Hi, Raymond --

I'm LaFee, the Regional Host for Europe, and a transplanted American living in the 77 (Seine-et-Marne) -- I think we're now up to four of us trying SFG in France - Susan is in the Savoie, and there's a gentleman called Al who's also in the southwest near you.

Welcome to the forum!
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Post  surfmental on 3/23/2013, 2:43 am

I am a new SFGardender, located in China. After a significant amount of searching, I have yet to come up with a clear answer to this question, from an experienced SFGardener...

So, I repeat the question raymondaitken's posted several years ago:

(1) Can we use vermicompost instead of ordinary compost to obtain "Mel's Mix"?

(2) If so, can we use it in the same proportions to the other ingredients (1/3)?

Here in China, I have so far found it difficult to find 5 sources of organic compost that I can trust. But it is easy to find 5 sources of vermicompost (though I need to confirm whether it's vermicompost or vermicast). I have also started my own vermicomposting and would prefer if I can just run everything through that system to get the compost for my Mel's Mix in the future, rather than having a separate conventional compost in addition to it...
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Post  llama momma on 3/23/2013, 3:04 am

The short answer is No, do not use vermicompost in place of compost.

A little vermicompost goes a long way, even at a 5% ratio in a broad mix of other composts, plants show pretty terrific signs of growth and overall improved health. The problem with adding over 20% vermicompost or pure castings is the elevated documented salt content. It damages plants with stunted growth. There are pictures of this in the book, Worms Eat My Garbage, and I'm almost certain the extensive website called redwormcomposting.com also discusses and shows pictures of salt damage too. You can also look up internationally known soil scientist, Dr. Clive Edwards' research in this area. He is with Ohio State University.
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Post  surfmental on 3/23/2013, 3:34 am

OK, well, not what I was hoping to hear... but great to have a clear answer at least! Thanks!!!

Yes, redwormcomposting.com is a great site. Have been looking at it quite a bit. The main confusion for me is with the proportions and the Mel's Mix. Since Mel's Mix is equal parts of Compost, Vermiculite, Peat, your maximum compost concentration in the total mix is 33%... Now, I would infer from what you were saying that vermicompost concentration should be kept under 20% for sure, and maybe more like 5-10% would be better, right?

So, my question is, do I measure that concentration of vermicompost as a percentage of the total mix (i.e. 5-10% of total mix is vermicompost) or should I measure it as 5-10% of the total compost (i.e. only 3% of the total Mel's Mix would be vermicompost)...?
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Post  llama momma on 3/23/2013, 4:02 am

Great question!
In the book, Worms Eat My Garbage, pages 111 and 112, the author says to throw a handful of vermicompost in the bottom of each hole you dig for transplants such as cabbage, broccs, and tomatoes. If you are top dressing and don't want to disturb root systems of older plants, sprinkle around the base and drip line of plants. The author Mary Appelhof did not give percentages of vermicompost in a large compost mix like you are asking. I must've read the 5% figure from redwormcomposting site. Or Duncan Carver's site. Since the vermicompost. is precious stuff, I add it individually to plants. Last Autumn I started out by adding about a teaspoon as side dressing to strawberry plants.

ETA-I must also add that in Mel's book, Square Foot garden Answer Book, pg 110 he says to add it as one of your five compost sources, which would bring it up to 20% of your compost.

Disadvantages -- worm castings may not be suitable for acid loving plants, often having a pH 8 or higher, from pg 114 book, WEMGarbage. Can still be used but mix with other potting materials.
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Post  surfmental on 3/23/2013, 4:31 am

Great answers! Thanks!

Looks like I need to order some more books... Wink
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Post  llama momma on 3/23/2013, 6:21 am

Your Welcome surfmental, glad to help out a bit.
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