Worm castings are an organic form of fertilizer produced from earthworms. Also known as vermicast, worm castings manure is essentially earthworm waste, otherwise known as worm poo.
Worm Castings don’t only stimulate plant growth, they enhance the ability of your soil to retain water (because of its texture), thereby inhibiting root diseases such as root rot. Unlike animal manure and artificial fertilizers it is absorbed easily and immediately by plants.
How it works:
As these creatures eat through compost, their waste creates an optimal soil enricher. Worm castings resemble football-shaped particles that improve soil aeration and drainage, as well as increase water retention in the soil.
Adding worm castings manure to the soil aerates and improves its overall structure while providing beneficial nutrients to plants
Can you use worm casting for plants?
Organic worm castings are excellent for plants. They contain all the essential nutrients that plants need in addition to enriching the soil in which the plants are grown. Not only can this fertilizer be used on nearly any type of plant, it can also be used directly on plants without burning them. Worm castings manure can be applied as top dressing, side dressing, or worked into the soil.
Benefits of Worm Castings
- The humus in the worm castings extracts toxins and harmful fungi and bacteria from the soil. Worm Castings therefore have the ability to fight off plant diseases.
- The worm castings have the ability to fix heavy metals in organic waste. This prevents plants from absorbing more of these chemical compounds than they need. These compounds can then be released later when the plants need them
- Worm Castings act as a barrier to help plants grow in soil where the pH levels are too high or too low. They prevent extreme pH levels from making it impossible for plants to absorb nutrients from the soil.
- The humic acid in Worm Castings stimulate plant growth, even in very low concentrations. The humic acid is in an ionically distributed state in which it can easily be absorbed by the plant, over and above any normal mineral nutrients. Humic acid also stimulates the development of micro flora populations in the soil.
- Worm Castings increase the ability of soil to retain water. The worm castings form aggregates, which are mineral clusters that combine in such a way that they can withstand water erosion and compaction, and also increase water retention.
- Worm Castings reduce the acid-forming carbon in the soil, and increase the nitrogen levels in a state that the plant can easily use. Organic plant wastes usually have a carbon-nitrogen ratio of more than 20 to 1. Because of this ratio, the nitrogen is unavailable to plants, and the soil around the organic waste becomes acidic.
How to make worm castings
Making worm castings, or vermicomposting, is easy.
- Get Worm bins or boxes. These can be purchased or constructed and come in various sizes and styles. However, when making bins for this task, they should be shallow, between 8 and 12 inches (20-30 cm.) in depth, with drainage holes in the bottom. If they are too deep, they may become problematic with odors. Also, consider where you are going to place the bin. This is because smaller bins work better in the home, fitting just beneath the sink or other similar area.
- Layer the bottom with sand and strips of moist newspaper.
- Add compost, manure, or leaf litter and another layer of moist newspaper strips and soil.
- Now add some worms and food, such as kitchen scraps or garden waste. Wait a couple of weeks.
- To harvest:
- The Dump and Sort Method. Simply lay out a sheet of plastic or newspaper and empty out the contents of the worm bin. Collect the worms and add them to a fresh vermicompost bin, then use the leftover castings on your plants.
- Selection Method. Move the worm castings to one side of the bin while adding new bedding to the other side. Put fresh food on this side and within a couple of weeks, the worms should migrate over. Remove the castings.
How to use Worm Castings:
- For Germination: Use 20 to 30% Worm Castings with sand as an excellent germination mixture. It will also ensure continuous and lush growth for about three months, without you having to add any other plant food.
- As a Soil Conditioner: If you hoe a layer of barren soil, add a layer of Worm Castings and give it some water, you will be surprised at the growth of your first season’s plants.
- As a Fertilizer: Sprinkle Worm Castings around the base of plants or lightly dig it in, and then add water. They can also be sprinkled on a large scale with a spreader. Remember: you cannot use too much Worm Castings, they cannot damage your plants.
- As a Liquid Fertilizer: Worm Castings can easily be mixed with water. Use 1 cup Worm Castings for every gallon of water and wait 1 week. This liquid mixture can be used as an excellent fertilizer or leaf foliate spray. It also helps to control insects. Many people prefer this method of application.
Using organic worm castings in the garden is an excellent way to produce healthy soil and plants.