Gardening Tips . . .
----Worm Castings And Worm Castings Tea

So what's with worm castings?
Worm 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.

How do I put the red worms to work?
Having 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.

And the results?
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 fern happy.

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 system.
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 months.
Below a certain moisture point, the castings may float and take a bit of time to re-absorb water.
Happy Plant Growing!




The Gardener's Journal