what are worm castings
Wed, Feb 16, 2022

What Is Worm Casting: The Benefits of an Unusual Fertilizer for Plants and Soil

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What Is Worm Casting: The Benefits of an Unusual Fertilizer for Plants and Soil Article Preview

If you have just started gardening, you are probably wondering “what are worm castings?”. Worm castings, commonly referred to as “black gold,” are a fantastic natural fertilizer for your plant. They give your plants a wealth of easily available nutrients while also improving the structure of your soil. That’s incredible! Now all you need to know is how to collect the worm castings and put them to good use. Let us teach you how to do it!

what are worm castings

What Are Earthworm Castings

Worm castings are worm excrement in their most basic form. When worms digest food, complex nutrients are broken down into more accessible forms than those present in the castings. When worm castings are introduced to soil, they provide essential nutrients to plants while also improving the general quality and structure of the soil.

In the horticulture sector, earthworm castings are commonly referred to as “black gold” because of the wide range of amazing advantages they provide (more on that later). They’re also referred to as “vermicastings”. The prefix “vermi” indicates “worm,” hence vermicomposting is the process of composting with worms.

What Are Worm Castings Good For

Worm castings are high in organic elements and helpful microorganisms, offering benefits much beyond what fertilizer ratios suggest. Since earthworm castings are low in essential plant nutrients, such as iron, they can’t possibly induce burn. The dark brown granules have a deep, earthy feel that reminds of dried coffee grounds, but they don’t reveal their origins.

When castings are put into potting mixes or the soil, the organic matter in them improves soil structure. Castings contain more humus than regular compost or standard garden soil. It helps to retain water in the soil, increase soil aeration, and anchor plant nutrients that might otherwise be washed away by rainfall. Soil bacteria feed on organic materials, which produce, store, and release plant nutrition over time. Both indoor and outdoor gardening can benefit from earthworm castings.

worm castings fertilizer

What Does Worm Casting Do for Plants

Chemicals in earthworm castings have a direct influence on plant growth. Over several years of research, the Ohio State University Soil Ecology Laboratory revealed that worm castings boosted seed germination, flower output, fruit production, and plant growth. Castings also deterred mites, aphids, and mealybugs, as well as prevented crown and root rots and wilt disease in plants.

In 2011, scientists from Cornell University’s Department of Plant Pathology found that worm castings prevented seedling damping-off disease. Furthermore, castings destroy the protective coats of some nuisance insects, regulate plant nutrient release, and aid the nutritional cycle from soil to plants.

What Does Worm Casting Look Like

Worm castings appear to the untrained eye to be highly rich, homogenous soil. Worm excrement is a small, oblong, dark brown to the black dot on the ground (it’s similar to coffee grounds, but it’s softer and has less sharp edges.). The consistency of a handful of well-kept completed castings should be wet but not soggy, like a wrung-out sponge. The casts should create a clump in your hand when squeezed together, but they should readily crumble back apart.

In the castings, there may be particles of food waste, bedding (such as dry leaves or shredded newspaper), other insects, worms, or trash. That’s perfectly OK and usual, however, when it comes to applying it to the garden, it’s better if the bulk of the material is castings.

Now that you have learned about all the benefits of this interesting fertilizer, let’s finally learn how to raise worms for castings.

How to Make Worm Castings

Earthworms are required to generate worm castings. Well, how to make worm castings? The procedure is straightforward, and the worms are low-maintenance. To keep the worms, you’ll need a couple of plastic bins or shallow wooden boxes. Each box should be around 10 inches deep and have drainage holes.

Worms prefer conditions that are warm, damp, and gloomy. The optimum location for them is in your greenhouse. If you don’t have one, the cozy space beneath the kitchen sink can suffice.

You may go as minimalistic as you like with the furniture. A combination of sand and newspaper strips should make up the bottom layer. Fill the box with natural goods like the leaves, peat moss, cotton meal, compost, and manure on top of that. Earthworms eat this as their natural meal. It nourishes and fattens them at the same time. Introduce the worms to their new environment and then let them alone for a bit.

how much worm castings per gallon of soil

How to Harvest Worm Castings

The food is processed by worms, and the remainder is handled by nature. Worm castings are produced after the substance is broken down and digested. However, before you can use the valuable material, you must first harvest it.

You may physically harvest the castings by separating the worms from the material with a wide sheet of paper or a clean towel. If you don’t have the patience for that, simply empty a section of the box, add new food, and wait for the worms to migrate to that side. Collect all the castings and use them to feed your plants with organic fertilizer.

How to Use Earthworm Castings

You’d be astonished at how many ways you may use this adaptable and multipurpose natural fertilizer to improve your soil. Worm castings serve four purposes in general.

Fertilizer

This is the most likely circumstance in which worm castings would be used. They are simple to use. Simply use a spreader to distribute them throughout the garden. You may also dig a small hole around each plant, sprinkle a handful of seeds, and then water them. No matter how fragile the plants are, they will absorb as much as they require, so there is no fear of their being burned or damaged.

Soil Conditioner

Worm castings have a low pH (only 7) and can thus aid to neutralize barren soil that is rich in carbon or pH. Turn the topsoil with your hoe, then liberally apply worm castings. Watch the plants and flowers bloom as you water the patch.

Germination

Worm castings and sand can be used to provide an effective germination medium. One part of heated castings to every four sections of sand is the ratio. Add to the soil after thorough mixing. It will provide nourishment to the soil for the following 3 months without the need for additional compost or fertilizers.

Liquid Fertilizer

Castings come in helpful if you want the ease of watering and feeding your plants at the same time. In a gallon of water, dissolve one cup of castings and lay it away for a week because they dilute easily in water. The liquid may then be poured over the plants to nourish them while also repelling pests.

How Much Worm Castings per Gallon of Soil

This, too, will vary based on the other ingredients in your fertilizer. However, 1 cup of worm castings per gallon of water is a fair rule of thumb (be sure to RO & pH your water if possible).

Can Worm Castings Burn Plants or Seedlings

how to make worm castings

No! Unlike certain high-nitrogen fertilizers, pure worm castings should not burn seedlings or plants or shock them. One of the nicest things about them is that earthworm castings are a gentle, slow-release fertilizer. The castings are covered with a layer of mucus when food and other materials move through the worm’s digestive tract, reducing the rate of nutrient breakdown and release in the soil. You can safely apply a bigger volume of slow-release fertilizer, but less often than fast-acting fertilizers.

Worm castings are the superior fertilizer on the market. They’re an organic, natural food that your plants can simply take. Worm castings may benefit your plants and soil, whether you have a fully blossoming garden or just a few potted plants at home. They not only aerate the soil and encourage plant development, but they help prevent root infections and keep pests like thrips, cutworms, and aphids out of your garden. If you have not used this method of fertilization before, then we strongly recommend that you try it. It’s worth it!

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