The next time that you’re thinking about fertilizer for your gardens, trees, lawns, rose bushes or potted plants, think… worms. More specifically, think worm castings. You see worm castings, or feces, are an excellent source of plant nutrient. The castings are an organic fertilizer that can be used safely – as little or as much as you like – because there is no need to worry about too much when it comes to worm castings. They even act as an insect and disease repellant, controlling plant pathogens and root-eating nematodes. And unlike chemical fertilizers, all-natural worm castings won’t burn tender roots. No wonder plants love them!
Worm castings emit a rich earthy smell, so there is no unpleasant or chemical odor. And they are full of nutrients. In fact, worm castings can contain more than 60 micro-nutrients and trace minerals, sometimes as much as eleven times more nitrogen, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, potash and magnesium than actual topsoil!
So, how do you get this seemingly magic mix?
The simplest way is to type “worm castings” into the search engine of your favorite browser and then do some comparison-shopping. However, if you have adventure in your blood and patience in your heart, you can “make” your own castings by creating a worm farm. Given that worms can double their populations every 90 days, you can soon recoup your initial investment in your “seeding” stock (red worms are the best).
The advantage of creating your own worm farm is that you can use it to recycle food waste such as fruit and vegetables, even hair trimmings, eggshells and pizza boxes and cardboard paper. Your worms will eat them all, but shred and soak the boxes first because worms do not have teeth. For the best and most nutritious worm castings, however, feed your worms a chemical-free mixture of shredded leaves and manure (animal and poultry, but not human). Finally, remove any worm eggs from the mix and you’ll end up with castings that look, feel and smell just like black topsoil.
You can even use the castings to make your plants a nutritious cup of tea. Apply this tea to the surfaces of the leaves and it will imbue the plant with many of its own natural microbes that are lost to attack from pathogenic organisms. A suggested ratio for use around the house and garden is 1:5 of undiluted tea to water. Pour this solution into a hand sprayer and use it about once per week, depending on the plants. Experiment (it’s not going to hurt them) and find out what’s best for your garden.
Worm castings are the purest and most natural form of a sustained release plant food. And the worms just produce them as part of their daily routine. Ain’t nature grand!
For more information about how to build a worm farm, see our article All About Worm Farming. For more information about red worms, see our article All About Red Worms.
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