When should I start castor beans?
You can start them indoors about 4-6 weeks before you plan on planting them out. You can start them outdoors as soon as all chance of frost have passed.
How do I start castor beans inside?
Soak the seeds for 12-24 hours in warm water. Plant them in soil about 1 inch deep and place them in a relatively warm spot. Once you see sprouts, place them where they can get bright, indirect light. Keep the soil moist. Once danger of frost has passed and the seedlings have at least 2 sets of true leaves, plant them out in your garden.
I'm new to gardening and want to know what to feed my plant. I'm starting out from seed.
Castor beans are easy and vigorous; here's more about them: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/foliage/castor-bean/castor-bean-information.htm
If the soil is even marginally fertile, you probably won't need to worry about fertilizer. If you really want to use some, an all purpose 3-1-2 formulation, or balanced 1-1-1, would be fine. Learn more about fertilizer here: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/soil-fertilizers/fertilizer-numbers-npk.htm
One thing you will find helpful as you begin to learn about gardening is to understand that plants make their own food by using the energy in light to combine elements from air, water, and the nutrient minerals in the soil. Fertilizer just helps along what's already there. So the starting points are always correct light for the type of plant, correct water, and good soil. You might want to start by learning about soil, and how to nurture it. https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/composting/basics/ultimate-beginners-guide-composting.htm
I have planted a number of castor bean plants from seeds. They seem to be growing out and not up. Is this normal and will they start growing up eventually?
You can add a stake and give them a support to start out on.
Make sure that they have plenty of sunlight and adequate water in well draining soil.
Here is a link with growing information.
Also please use caution and refresh yourself on the toxic safety measures with this plant.
Will they deter snakes
No, Caster Bean plants are not a snake deterrent.
is it safe to put the remains of a castor bean plant in my compost? will it kill off the worms and other microbes or will the poisonous parts decompose and be safe to use?
Ricin, which is the chemical culprit responsible for the plants toxicity, will break down at around 140 degrees Fahrenheit. this being said, if your compost pile is properly maintained and large enough then you will have no problem composting the plant. If you are concerned that the temperature will not reach 140 in your pile then I would stay away from composting it.
thank you; do you take the temperature of the compost deep in the center or at the bottom to determine the temperature?
I have been given three castor bean seeds from a friend who grows them. I was so very excited and could hardly wait to plant them. Upon doing some research I now have concerns about some innocent creature getting poisoned such as a deer, rabbits, birds. I am now torn...I have never been so excited about a plant before but now this issue has came to be. I am hoping for some advice from a gardening professional please. Thank you for your time. Deb
I have seen many gardeners grow Castor Bean seeds with no issues in their gardens, but being aware of the toxic nature of this plant is a good idea before deciding whether or not to grow it.
These links will help you make a decision.