As far as soil renewal is concerned, earthworms are the industrious,
busy workers of the soil. Their burrows help loosen and aerate the soil,
allowing plants to better able to grow stronger roots. And they feed
on microbes and organic matter, which in turns becomes even richer castings.
These castings constantly renew the soil, and all organic gardeners
know that healthy soil is the key to a successful and bountiful garden.
In vermiculture, the end product is worm castings, which you periodically
remove from your worm bin. With more people waking up to the benefits
of recycling, reducing their garbage and helping the environment, vermiculture
is the perfect solution, even if you live in a condo or apartment. You
reduce your waste, you recycle your kitchen scraps, and your reward
is handfuls of rich worm castings.
What to Do With These Castings?
Castings work the same as compost Ė they are a soil additive and conditioner
that helps renew and regenerate your soil. If you have a garden, simply
work it directly into the soil by raking or sprinkling it. Apply about
a quarter inch thickness of castings to garden beds or lawns. Castings
will not burn your plants, and according to one study, the level of
nutrients in the soil after adding castings remained stable over five
You can also use castings as a mulch. Spread about a two inch-thick
layer inside the drip line of trees, being sure to stay away from the
trunk. You should consider using them in an area that is moist, because
dry castings can form a hard crust that repels water.
You can also add castings to transplants. When you set out small garden
seedlings, place some of the castings directly into the hole that you
are placing the seedling in.
Fertilizer Via Worm Tea
How about making 'worm tea?' It makes a great liquid
organic fertilizer. Add water to moisten the worm castings, but
not enough to drown your worms. Then collect the drainage water from
your worm bin. This water has diluted worm castings in it. Mix it with
an equal part of water and use it in the garden. Worm tea makes an excellent
foliar fertilizer. You will find that plants will grow better and healthier
and even more disease-resistant. You can also try treating sick plants
with this method, as worm tea is full of beneficial microbes that will
combat certain types of bad fungi.
What If I Donít Have a Garden?
A lot of people choose vermiculture because they live in an apartment
or condo, and it is a great way to compost indoors, with no odor.
So, what to do with your worm castings? Plenty!
- Use the castings to side-dress indoor plants
- Give to a friend who has a garden
- Sell it by the pound (For charity, of course!)
- Find your favourite local park and add around plants
By Ena Clewes, professional horticulturalist and writer for Goorganicgardening.com.
Learn how to build
an organic garden, switch to natural or home-made herbicides and
pesticides, and enjoy the beauty of healthy gardening.
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