Thursday, December 2, 2010

Worm tea and orchids

The worm bin in the photo is the second I've had, having first started with a simple plastic container. I like this stacking one better because it allows the liquid to collect and be drained easily. And, as any worm compostor knows, the liquid is the best fertilizer you can find.

Worm tea can be heavily diluted, and used as a drench or a spray, but I like to add about half again of water. Since the beginning of the year, I've used it exclusively on the orchids, with some very gratifying results.

I don't feed my orchids as often as I should, but most of them flower on and off regardless. However, for years I've had a large cattleya growing on the north side of a coconut palm trunk. It flowered once, nearly 10 years ago, but now it's got two huge blooms! I was stunned to find them a few days ago.

And a vandaceous orchid that's not flowered before produced some delightful blooms of the palest purple, a color I've not seen before.

Here are the pix:

An indication of the size


Ami said...

Gorgeous orchids! Love the color of both orchids. Those two cattleya blooms are really huge. Do you spray them using your worm tea?

Terra Mirabilis said...

Hi, Ami. Yes, that's all they get now. Worm tea works wonders! (Cool alliteration!)

NanaK said...

Gorgeous orchids. I would like to learn more about your worm bin. I'm a lazy composter right now. My pile gets earthworms in it which is a sure sign it isn't hot enough to compost quickly.

Terra Mirabilis said...

Nana, there's masses of info online. I like this bin because I'm more interested in the tea than the broken down solids (they are a superb soil amendment). I don't think worm composting is quite as easy as everyone says. For a start, the bins get VERY heavy, and they do have to be emptied and worms removed. (I've long since got over any inhibitions about handling them!) Perhaps a separate post is called for.

Susan said...

Your orchids look beautiful! I've heard that worm tea is a great fertilizer, and it looks like your orchids agree. Oh, how I wish I could grown orchids attached to the side of a palm or tree. Right now, my orchids are spending their days indoors.

Patricia said...

Your orchids are gorgeous. Where do you get the worm composter? I would love to purchase one. We are going to be raising alpacas and I plan on using the alpacapoo in the compost bin and add some worms.

Would that work? I have seen it sold at farmers' markets; so, will be able to bag and sell my own after a little research. It is a wonderful organic fertilizer I understand. In my garden, I use all organics and well-rotted horse manure. Lots of earth worms, but I would love one of those bins for my orchids.

Terra Mirabilis said...

@Susan. Hey, there. The quality of the worm tea is related to what goes in the bin, so I make sure to put in a variety of kitchen scraps (no meat or dairy). But I keep citrus out, it's too acidic.

I'm surprised you've taken your orchids inside already. I learned last year that they're much tougher than is usually said. The orchid in the pix took the brunt of last winter's cold weather -- a wind straight out of the northwest over a lake -- and the freeze without any harm. I did bring in anything in a pot or basket, but I have masses on trees, and I only lost one.

@Patricia. If you're raising alpacas, I guess you're not in Miami! I found the worm bin on sale at Target, but a Google search will yield plenty of varieties. You buy the worms online, too, but once your compost pile gets going it may attract worms in your soil.

I don't bother to rot down horse manure and simply apply it or mix it into the soil. It doesn't burn like cow or chicken manure, which must be rotted. My roses love the horse stuff!

And thanks for reading and commenting. :-)

ROUGH.ROSA said...

Seems many are blogging on cattleya orchids these days. Many said that the plants decided to rebloom again this year. They must have had a good weather this year.

The worm tea works wonders. Yours is one big cattleya!

Terra Mirabilis said...

Hi, Rosa. I hadn't heard that about cattleyas; maybe mine would have bloomed anyway, regardless of the tea. Still, I think I'll credit the tea for making the blooms so big. :-)


That is one beautiful orchid. When I see blooms like this I get so jealous of you people in Florida who get to grow plants like these.

cliff said...

lovely orchids. my query is that should we add earth worms into this bin ? I do store all kitchen waste except meat and diary in a bin as u said, but do u add water to it ?

Terra Mirabilis said...

Hello, Cliff. My understanding is that earthworms, such as Lumbricus terrestris, are not added to compost bins, but work well in the soil below a compost pile. However, all that should be confirmed with an expert.

No, I don't add water to my compost bin except when starting a new bin. Once they get going, the worms generate plenty of waste water, which collects in the lower section.

Hope that helps.

-- Penny

LindieLee said...

You said:"Worm tea can be heavily diluted, and used as a drench or a spray, but I like to add about half again of water."
What I would like to know is how much worm tea per how much water for your orchids. I have a few in small pots and just inherited a small bin worm farm.

Terra Mirabilis said...

Hi, Lindie. I dilute it about 50 percent and put it in a sprayer. It won't harm your orchids at full strength, but it goes further this way.

-- Penny