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Red Worm Leachate Question  RSS feed

 
fiona smith
Posts: 141
Location: UK
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Over the last year, my worm farm has produced quite an amount of leachate in the bottom of the bins.
Now , I have been using them on my indoor plants, 1 part leachate and 10 parts water, as I noticed giving them too much kills them off!

So now winter is arriving, and the worms are inside, doing what worms do best, I have lots of unused leachate and thinking about storage, as plants do go to sleep in the winter, I guess it would be a waste of liquid gold?.


Can it be stored? would it loose its value/nutrients? or is it best to use right away?
If so I am going to give some away to others, and just chuck the rest on the garden anyway.

Thanks.
 
John Elliott
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Do you have a bin of biochar? Are you making any?

If so, your problem is solved. Pour the leachate on the biochar and leave it outside over the winter. The chemical nutrients in the leachate will be adsorbed on the biochar and the beneficial microbes will take up residence in its pores. By leaving it outside, the cold weather will slow down the metabolism in the biochar/leachate mix, and then when you put it in the garden in spring, it will awaken and go right to work.

A less attractive option is to pour it onto some other absorbent material that will quickly decompose when the weather warms up: sawdust, shredded newspaper, wood chips, etc.
 
Zach Muller
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I am unaware of the details of your bin. But in the past I have kept worm bins and it always seemed there wasn't all that much leachate coming out if the moisture in the bin was at a good level.
Are you obtaining the leachate by pouring water through the bin?
Since there are times when certain parts of a worm bin will go anaerobic any leachate that is obtained will probably have some anaerobic bacteria in it. That could be one reason why giving too much of it was killing off your plants. As a general practice I never fed my plants leachate except maybe throwing it out in the yard or on a native plant growing vigorously.
Did you notice any positive effects of using the leachate outside of hydrating the plant?
 
fiona smith
Posts: 141
Location: UK
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Thanks guys.

John, No, I don't have a bin of biochar(Had to look that one up on the web, sounds interesting maybe a project for the future )

I have a patch of cardboard in the garden, so that's where it will go. Thanks.

@Zach, I found my worms in an aged compost heap a local horsey guy has on his patch. He lets me take as much of his compost as I like, there were hundreds of them in said compost when i brought it home, so I fished a load out, and kept them in a bit of some of their own bedding, in a home made worm bin with holes, and fed them from there. The compost was quite damp to begin with, and I never watered it because of this reason. All the water must have leached out over the months and the compost is now at a nicedryer consistency. I had to turn the soil a few times to reduce the water Content and then added a lot of shredded paper( After I got my brain engaged and figured it was too wet to breed them further : )

I noted that as I poured some of it on my roses, they bloomed within days(even in late october)

I have been wondering that because the leachate kills my house plants when I add too much, and not outdoor plants, then why?

I have just also found this from a gardening website. The post was written by someone who seems to know a lot about things. She explains a lot. She had this to say:



"Ok, hang on a minute, let's take a few steps back. Believe it or not, leachate and tea, based on peer reviewed RESEARCH, can and often do have essentially equal value to garden plants in terms of growth response. Shall I repeat that? Leachate and tea, according to research, can have an equally beneficial impact on plant growth.


Now to better explain:

The problem with leachate is not that it contains less nutrient (in fact, it often contains more soluble nutrients than does tea), the problem is that leachate can also contain alochol, phenols and terpenes (all naturally occuring by-products of anaerobic decomposition), and it is not always possible to tell when these compounds are present in sufficient concentration to cause damage. Smell is absolutely NOT a reliable indicator of the value of leachate! Let's repeat that as well! Smell is NOT a reliable indicator of the value of leachate. There is, in fact, research demonstrating that the stinkiest, most foul-smelling leachates imaginable can and sometimes do out-perform odorless leachate and yeasty-smelling tea in plant growth trials. Yes, stinky leachate almost always means anaerobic leachate, but this idea that anaerobic is ALWAYS bad is simply incorrect! It is definitely more risky due to the presence of alcohol, phenol and terpenes, but it is not always bad.

The problems with leachate come down to risk factors. Aside from the potential presence of phytotoxic (plant toxic) anaerobic by-products, leachate is liquid draining from an actively decomposing mass of OM, thus it has a greater chance of containing human pathogens like e-coli and salmonella than does a tea made from finished, stable material. When applied to food plants there is the danger of contamination when fruits and veggies that may have come into contact with the leachate are not adequately washed or cooked before being eaten (danger is from surface contamination, not from plants uptaking pathogens into their systems).

And while I was a bit cavalier above regarding anaerobic by-products, as many people have killed or damaged plants by applying leachate with concentrations of alcohol, phenols and terpenes that were not apparent as have found leachate to be beneficial. It is because of the potential for leachate to contain human pathogens and anaerobic by-products that its use is generally discouraged.

There are many folks out there who use and love the leachate generated from their worm bins. Some use it at full strength, some dilute with clean water before use, usually at a roughly 10:1 ratio. For what it's worth, it is not a practice that I would advocate, but this is a decision that should be made by each individual once they understand the potential risks."

http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/verm/msg1220485313727.html

Edited for spelling

 
Johnny Niamert
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fiona smith wrote:I have been wondering that because the leachate kills my house plants when I add too much, and not outdoor plants, then why?


There is much more 'support structure' outside than inside.
It could be too much N or maybe microbial issues that are harming your house plants, while your roses have enough help, space, or physical size to tolerate the changes.


I've always read and been warned against using any sort of run-off from unfinished or immature compost. Even vermi.
 
Zach Muller
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fiona smith wrote:


I noted that as I poured some of it on my roses, they bloomed within days(even in late october)

I have been wondering that because the leachate kills my house plants when I add too much, and not outdoor plants, then why?

I have just also found this from a gardening website. The post was written by someone who seems to know a lot about things. She explains a lot. She had this to say:



"Ok, hang on a minute, let's take a few steps back. Believe it or not, leachate and tea, based on peer reviewed RESEARCH, can and often do have essentially equal value to garden plants in terms of growth response. Shall I repeat that? Leachate and tea, according to research, can have an equally beneficial impact on plant growth.


Now to better explain:

The problem with leachate is not that it contains less nutrient (in fact, it often contains more soluble nutrients than does tea), the problem is that leachate can also contain alochol, phenols and terpenes


It's very well possible that it caused the roses to bloom, I think I have poured it once on my roses as well.
as for the post from the gardening website it does sound like they know what they are talking about and say a lot of things that are true. I would still have to disagree. The problem with leachate is not at all that it contains less nutrient, it is that leachate may contain bacteria that will not have a good affect on your soil. Tea is created by using finished worm compost where there are very few of those bad bacteria if any. I will look at the sources for the peer reviewed research and maybe contribute my own. From what I have observed in the microscope leachate does not hold a candle to well made tea in regards to microbe activity.
 
S Bengi
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Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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I dont recommend storing grey-water or leachate. So throw away the extra leachate.

Getting Leachate means that your bin is not perfectly balance, you aim should be to never get leachate.
If you had your leachate dripping out of the worm bin directly into your potting mix/plant bin like in nature or research studies, then it is OK,
However if it has been sitting at the bottom of the worm bin/etc for hours or days, then it will contain alot of bad microbes in addition to nutrients and good microbes.

It is very possible that the roses bloomed because it hurt and think it is going to die.
So as a last ditch effort it is using up its stored energy to at least create some seeds to carry on it's DNA after it dies.


 
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