The Benefits of Worm Castings
There are healthy, natural alternatives to
chemicals. There are fertilizers that help build a healthy soil
environment for plants to grow in, that leave a healthy environment
for our children to grow in.
I have been worm farming for thirteen years and I am
still awed by the magic of worm composting. To watch the raw
material that is manure, newspaper, leaves, grass and food waste
become the black gold that gardeners dream of is inspiring, and
every bit as exciting as a seed emerging from the earth, a flower
bursting into bloom, and that small swollen stem end developing into
a luscious fruit.
At first I thought because of the cold winters of my
northerly location I would not be able to grow worms. They like it
warm, I thought. And they do. But composting by it's very nature
produces heat. Thus, by planning the workings of my bins to match
the season I actually have better results with my worms in the
cooler months of Spring and Fall and indeed even in winter, than I
do in Summer when the temperatures are really too hot
for the worms to be happy. After a winter of layering on the raw
material mentioned above, the bed has stayed warm enough for the
inhabitants and they have left me with the rich earth filled with
castings and bacteria that a healthy soil thrives on.
We all know the advantages of having earthworms in
our gardens. We are thrilled to see these little creatures doing
their thing in our soil, and even relocate them when we find them so
they will be where they will do us the most good. But did you know
that there are more than 3000 species of earthworms and of those
only 6 species are important for improving our soil?
VERMI-CAST (product name of the castings produced at
VermiCulture Northwest) is the product of the hardest workers of
them all - Eisenia fetida, also known as the "red wiggler", "manure
worm" and "compost worm". These earthworms produce castings or worm
manure, which is the best fertilizer on Earth. It is extremely
versatile as it works as a plant food, soil conditioner and
microbial activity enhancer for virtually any type of plant that
The quality of the cast produced by the worm is directly related to
what goes into the vermicomposting system. When quality goes in,
quality comes out. The worms at VermiCulture Northwest are fed a
variety of food stock and bedding material - food waste, garden
waste, worm feed, manure, newspaper, and leaves. Each material added
to the system has its own unique organism (s) that breaks down and
consumes it. Thus the finished product has a wide spectrum of
beneficial organisms in it. This is what you want
What are CASTINGS used for?
Because of its nutrients, bacteria, humus, and soil building
qualities, VERMI-CAST can be used in every application imaginable in
the garden, greenhouse, and potted plants. Use it when planting
trees, shrubs, flowers, and vegetables. Use it as a top dressing to
feed plants already in a pot or in the ground. VERMI-CAST will never
burn, so you don't have to worry about using too much. However, you
get maximum growth improvement somewhere in the lower levels of
concentrations, 5-20%, not with 100%.
Why is it the best?
VERMI-CAST is a 100% organic fertilizer, and is completely safe to
all plants, animals, humans and our environment in any
concentration. It is the richest natural fertilizer know to humans.
Plant growth trials at Ohio State University have shown that as
little as 5% (by volume) produces "unique and remarkable plant
growth responses." The recommended rate is 10-20%. Unlike animal
dung and artificial fertilizer it is absorbed easily and immediately
by plants and will not burn. It also enhances the ability of your
soil to retain water and even inhibits bacterial and fungal
diseases. It will improve soil structure and aeration dramatically.
It consists of thousands of durable torpedo-shaped pellets that
resist compaction, creating a spongy quality to the material.
VERMI-CAST has not been sterilized and therefore contains a highly
active biological mixture of bacteria, enzymes, and microbes. This
material stays active for a long period of time. The microbial life
in the castings are much better at transforming nutrients into forms
readily available to plants than those you find in conventional
compost because the microbes in compost are thermophilic, so the
microbial spectrum is quite different and much more beneficial in
castings. This is all according to Dr. Clive Edwards, the world's
leading authority on vermi-composting.
The real value of VERMI-CAST lies in the soil structure, water
holding capacity, the retention, drainage, pathogen control and
control of damaging fungi and bacterial life in the soil. The worm
castings actually contain more bacteria than are found in the worm
gut or in the organic matter the worm consumes. Microbiological
activity is promoted in the soil, which is very beneficial for the
environment your plants are growing in.
VERMI-CAST helps replenish biological diversity in the soil.
According to George Hahn of California Vermiculture "castings
provide the biological engines of the soil". They are the best
source for a complete soil food web. A soil food web consists of
thousands of biological species. The result of this food web is a
healthy cycling of soil nutrients. With them you have a healthy
VermiCulture Northwest not only produces quality worm by products,
but we can help you get started raising your own Red worms. See
Worms & Housing for some ideas.
All of these tomato plants received an optimal nutrient supply, but
the ones on the right were grown in a mixture that included
vermicompost (VC), while those on the left were grown in the same
material, minus the VC. The VC plants were bigger and healthier and
the yield was substantially higher. University of Campeche, Mexico.
My own personal experience has proven how beneficial worm castings
are in growing tomatoes. If you like to grow tomatoes you have
to have worm castings.