towards the end of December i had bags of
left over soybean husks to use eventually in
the worm bins. not wanting to pass up a good
chance of comparing processes i took some
worm castings (about a dry quart) and added
them to layers of wetted husks and then kept
the bin moist.
i started one bin and then a few weeks
later started a second bin. both had more
husks added to them as they compacted. two
bins eventually held five bins of husks.
if i'd continued the test i could have added
another today (about two months from the
as noted in another thread recently the
fungi side of the rotting equation is somewhat
oriented towards acidic and ammonia. i noticed
last week that things were starting to get a
little strong smelling, but was hoping it would
pass. it didn't. the bacteria in the worm
castings alone could not keep up with the fungi
without their worm hosts to keep the bedding
aerated and stirred. today i broke apart the
first bin and added it to the worm bins.
digging into it was like opening a bottle
of ammonia. phew! tomorrow i'll hope to get
to the second bin.
in the end, the compaction and rotting by
fungi, etc of the worm free bins was good for
getting space back, but the smell and having
to then process it anyways in a second stage
didn't save much. for the storage considerations
it was much easier to store dry bean husks than
to have more bins. much lighter.
this next season i hope to not have quite so
much late husking to do and that will keep the
shells outside and in the ground as fast as i
can get them buried. we'll see... :)
righto. both bins are now in the worm bins.
the second bin didn't have the same ammonia
smell. the worms will sort it out before spring.
they have a few months.
it was a good test to see though if the worm
casting innoculant of the soybean husks would
be enough bacterial population to keep the fungi
from dominating. it didn't. so test done.
worms added. all is well. ammonia smelly husks
now buried in several inches of worms and dirt.
i wasn't aiming for composting in the
bin. i was aiming to test if the worm
castings would contain enough bacteria to
control fungi. the answer i got was no.
if i were composting in a bin i surely
would have adjusted the proportions
appropriately and mixed from time to time.
as it goes, the bins here, i decidedly
do not want them getting into a hot stage
of composting. Ma would get a bit upset
if she could smell anything. which is why
worm composting works well.
the expectation was that some form of rot
would happen. i consider composting to be
quite different than rotting. which is why
i called it a small study of rotting and not
a small study of composting.
i did not know specifically what would happen.
that's why i did it. to answer the question
about bacteria in worm castings. to see if
castings were enough on their own to moderate or
control fungi. at the rate of application of
one dry quart to seventeen dry quarts of husks,
the answer is no.
the bin was full of fungi and smelled of ammonia.
hmm... now i'm really confused. hahaha...
can't revisit atm, experiment terminated, until
next supply of husks comes around.
as side notes, usually in the dirt the bacteria
include species of nitrogen fixers and consumers
of ammonia so it is very rare for me to smell
ammonia coming from dirt unless i've happened to
hit a localized heavy spot of organic material
being decomposed by fungi.
if what you say is true that would be the reverse
case wouldn't it? do you smell ammonia when you
work in your garden soil as compared to what you
smell when messing with the soil/mulch layer boundary?
so i do really think that if the bacteria had
indeed won i would not have been smelling ammonia.
the pH was not measured for either bin so i can't
say what it was.
i do know that the innoculating worm castings
and soil had nitrogen fixing bacteria present because
much of it was taken from the same bin from top
to bottom. so there were anaerobes as well as
aerobes in there. if i dig to the bottom of any
of the bins i'll find the methane/boggy smell,
but the soil above (and the bacteria) filter/consume
the smell/methane before it gets out.
the worms have no trouble with the bottoms of
the bins. their tunnels either let them get
enough oxygen or they are daytripping downstairs
for nummies and then coming up for oxygen later.
and there are bacteria that will turn it
back into the gas form again.
half a cm of mulch is not much mulch at all.
did you mean 5cm? i'm thinking of several
inches of mulch at least for when i notice it.
the bin was about 30cm of soybean husks.
the note about it being a strictly chemical
process is interesting, but in a bin mixed with
worm castings laden with fungi and bacteria i
can't imagine there being much of that going
on that was not mediated by either fungi or
bacteria. the entire bin from top to bottom
was full of spores.
yep. but they'll be around in other soils
too. there's really not many places that bacteria
will not colonize given a chance.
ah yes. hydrogen sulfide is part of the swampy
i'd be sure they are at the boundary, but it
being so cold they are probably limited by the
frozeness below and the more active/warmer
bacteria, etc. above.
if there is an energy source there is likely a
bacteria that feeds off it (i would not be surprised
if there were a bacteria that also feed off nuclear
not handy. i may be misremembering or
misclassifying, could be an algae, cyanobacteria,
eubacteria or whatever they are being called
these days. nothing like advancements of science
to screw up a poor memorizers brain. :) anyways
i do know there is a nitrogen cycle.
i did just read about it a few different times
in overview. really. i wasn't daydreaming...
ages ago i was into reef aquaria and they can
be finicky about nitrogen pollution.
50cm is a lot of mulch. i sometimes smell
ammonia from the layer from under 10-15cm of
not nutrients, energy. like what the
chloroplasts or diatoms get from the sun.
Not much visible light from radioactivity, until it is too late (BOOM).
Light waves may promote an electron to a higher orbital, but nuclear
reactions produce ionizing radiation that will blow an electron right
out of the atom, and very possibly break bonds.
The next time you find yourself in a library you may want to look up:
The Color of Plants on Other Worlds
Putting it all together, our atmosphere demarcates windows through which
radiation can make it to the planet's surface. The visible radiation
window is defined at its blue edge by the drop-off in the intensity of
short-wavelength photons emitted by the sun and by ozone absorption of
UV. The red edge is defined by oxygen absorption lines. The peak in
photon abundance is shifted from yellow to red (about 685 nm) by ozone's
broad absorbance across the visible.
Plants are adapted to this spectrum, which is determined largely by
oxygen-yet plants are what put the oxygen into the atmosphere to begin
with. When early photosynthetic organisms first appeared on Earth, the
atmosphere lacked oxygen, so they must have used different pigments from
chlorophyll. Only over time as photosynthesis altered the atmospheric
composition, did chlorophyll emerge as optimal.
(and so on and so forth)
There are cyanobacteria and several other types that absorb different
spectra than the usual green. There are extremely ancient fossils that
look like they might contain archea or bacteria with pigments that
The Color of Plants on Other Worlds
The firm fossil evidence for photosynthesis dates to about 3.4 billion
years ago (Ga), but earlier fossils exhibit signs of what could have
been photosynthesis. Early photosynthesizers had to start out
underwater, in part because water is a good solvent for biochemical
reactions and in part because it provides protection against solar UV
radiation-shielding that was essential in the absence of an atmospheric
ozone layer. These earliest photosynthesizers were underwater bacteria
that absorbed infrared photons. Their chemical reactions involved
hydrogen, hydrogen sulfide or iron rather than water, so they did not
produce oxygen gas. Oxygen-generating (oxygenic) photosynthesis by
cyanobacteria in the oceans started 2.7 Ga. Oxygen levels and the ozone
layer slowly built up, allowing red and brown algae to emerge. As
shallower water became safe from UV, green algae evolved. They lacked
phycobilins and were better adapted to the bright light in surface
waters. Finally, plants descended from green algae emerged onto land-
two billion years after oxygen had begun accumulating in the atmosphere.
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