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mornings

Aquaponics, all wet.

26 posts in this topic

Taz,

There are several variables to deal with.

So far, my experience suggests that for every 16 sq ft of plant growing space you want to feed, you use 1 cu ft of gravel containing worms. I suggest a fairly smooth gravel.

If you flood and drain that gravel, say, every 6 hours, you will get most of the nutrient out and the worms will stay moist and happy.

IF you were feeding a 32-34% high protein food, I would feed the worms about 1/10th lbs of dry food per day. Now what you need to do is covert (mentally) those scraps into a dry food and protein equivalent -- at least until you develop a "feel" for what is needed for your plants.

Typically, produce is around 80% water, so that gives you some idea of the volume needed (5 times the dry volume).

Next, you need to get some idea of how much protein is in those scraps (guess). It is the protein that will give you nitrates. If you were feeding the worms, say, rabbit food, they are about 15% protein, so you would need to up that dry food amount amount to a little over double the hi-pro food.

Ultimately what you will need to do is experiment with how much it takes vs, how much nutrient gets to your plants or is in you tank. My system as 160 sq ft, so I'm doubtful I could some with that kinda scrapes. I find soy bean hay makes a really good worm food (as long as that is not all you are feeding them). You can have a crop in about 30 days in the summer and it will put nitrogen in your garden soil too (cut the soybean plants down when they have flowers on them and de-leaf them -- the stems have essentially nothing in them.

What ever you feed them, for the sake of speed, I suggest you grind it up and let it ferment for a few days. Simply add some of your system water to it (it will have all the necessary bacteria in it) and keep it warm. Worms cannot eat anything unless it has been pre-digested by either animals and/or bacteria.

Now, once you've done all that, just make a furrow in the gravel, pour in ferment/slops and cover it (that keeps other critters from getting interested and the worms will eat it up in a hurry).

Essentially, this is vermi-composting. It is just a lot more efficient than having a worm bin, separating the castes, making a caste tea and, then, feeding your plants.

I do not recommend that you feed the worms where your plants are. I'm doing that at the moment and it is not ideal. The worms should be out of the sun in a cooler place and not taking up valuable growing space in the sun/light. Presently, I am building a separate GB for worms. I expect to flood and drain it and the grow beds every 6 hours. I suspect every 12 hours might work, I just don't know yet what is optimum.

If you are using a raft system, you need to work out a way to F&D the worm GB and run a constant flow in your grow beds. I expect to use a timer on my larger system with rafts, but one could just as easily rig up a bell siphon to time a F&D on the worm bed and have one, constant flow pump.

Also, you may not have enough worms in the beginning (I don't know how many are needed -- I can't get the little buggers out of the gravel to muster). I do know however, they will reproduce very quickly (you can probably double their number in a month), they will add to their numbers so long as their is excess food available, and their population is self regulating.

Hope this helps. If you decide to go ahead with some of the above, please stay in touch. I'd like to help and I'd like to know what you learn. I'm learning too.

m

Shadders likes this

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