what's with worm castings?
castings are one of the best and safest complete organic fertilizers.
We all know the benefits of earthworms in our gardens. They dig deep to
loosen the soil, help decompose organic matter and make our plants grow
better. We also know the advantages of composting, included a bin of red-worms
for your kitchen scraps.
do I put the red worms to work?
encouraged earthworms for years to make my gardening easier, the last three
years I have been experimenting with red worm compost. My original goal
was to turn junk mail into something useful. It is also a safe way to dispose
of personal papers like bank statements, tax returns, etc. The red worms
eat the papers and plant materials and convert it into dark, rich, almost
odorless little balls filled with nutrients and soil microorganisms called
"castings". When this is diluted or steeped in water it creates
a "tea" that is readily available for uptake by plant roots. Worm
tea can also be sprayed on the plant foliage.
My first experiment was applying worm tea to half of the rows of peas, lettuce,
tomatoes and peppers. I wasn't too concerned if bits of paper, etc. were
included since eventually they were worked into the soil.
There was a definite advantage in growth, plant vigor and the harvest. Last
spring I used it on all of my vegetable seedlings. This was a real test
since I use windowsills instead of grow lights, am rather haphazard in my
care of them and usually put them outside early under layers of light spun
fabric row cover to harden them off. It is the first time my tomatoes were
not spindly, extended things that needed to be buried deep. The stocks were
thick and hearty and every tomato I planted, survived and produced. All
of the pepper, except for a few I moved from under the fabric too soon,
did well. I now use it on my houseplants, too. It especially makes my staghorn
What's in it for the plants?
Living microbes and beneficial plant-growth compounds go right to work when
worm casting tea is applied to soil or plant leaves.
Worm castings are one of the best organic fertilizers with a neutral pH
and a high nutrient content of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium.
Because it increases the complexity and diversity of organisms in the root
zone, it helps fight diseases and pests and boosts the plant's natural immune
It will not burn the most delicate plants.
Because it is water-soluble it begins feeding the plant immediately.
Worm Tea Bag Tips
Because worm castings tea will not burn your plants, the tea-making ratio
of water to castings does not have to be exact.
Because the castings contain living organisms, it is best kept slightly
damp and do not let the tea bags get over 90 degrees (don't store it in
the sun.) This moisture will also keep the organisms viable for several
Below a certain moisture point, the castings may float and take a bit of
time to re-absorb water.
Happy Plant Growing!