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Why Are Worm Castings So Good for Plants?
Let’s clear the air. Worm poop is crazy good for plants.
It’s probably because worms and plants live together in the same soil in nature.
So, what are the benefits of Worm Castings?
Worm Castings Increase Yield
Because microorganisms are so present in worm castings, these tiny friends will assist in nutrient uptake for your plants. This means your plants will grow better, get bigger, and produce higher yields.
Pest and Disease Defense and Protection
When worm castings are present in the soil, the microbial activity helps kill off dangerous diseases in the soil. This means your plants get some added protection when adding worm castings in the soil.
Health & Growth are Enhanced
Worm castings are rich in micronutrients, which are beneficial to the plant to be the healthiest possible. This means they’ll grow their best when they have all of the nutrients that they need for optimal development.
How Do Worms Play A Part in Creating Soil?
To understand this, you’ll have to understand two things about how soil works.
- Humus – The “black stuff” in the soil that is the result of organic matter breaking down
- Microorganisms – The “invisible creatures” that live in the soil and break down this organic matter into humus.
The grand picture of soil is called “The Soil Food Web” that shows how life interacts and is connected with itself in the soil, creating a circle of life.
The Two Ways Humans (That’s You!) Can Make Compost
The First Way: Hot/Cold Composting
If you hear about someone who has a compost bin, this is what they are doing.
A pile of food scraps is left alone for many months, and in that period of time, the microorganisms get to work, and start decomposing the organic matter into humus.
If the food pile is big enough, the inside of the pile will get “hot” and a new type of microbes will form, that are even faster at breaking down and digesting the compost pile.
So, if you stick your hand in a compost pile and it feels warm, it’s the thermophilic (heat-loving) microbes that are causing this. Sometimes, if you turn over the compost pile, it will even produce steam.
The Second Way: Vermicomposting (With Worms!)
Worms can eat up to a third of their own weight per day!
Along with the microbes, the worms will begin physically eating the food scraps in a compost worm bin, digest them, and when they poop this out, they leave it behind in the soil, and that’s what worm castings are!
When worms are digesting the compost bin, they’re eating microbes along with the organic food waste, which is why the worm castings are such a good plant food when added to the soil.
How To Start Your Own Worm Bin And Create Vermicompost For Your Garden
There are three main ways to create a worm bin. If you’re really interested in diving deep in how to do this, check out The Ultimate Vermicomposting Guide
Below, I’ll outline the three basic ways to start your own worm bin, so you can get an idea of how to begin.
Method #1 – DIY In a Plastic Tub or 5 Gallon Bucket
You can make your own vermicompost at home in a basic plastic tub or 5 gallon bucket. It’s all that’s needed! There are plenty of articles online that will show you how to do this.
If you have extra tubs or buckets laying around, this is a good way to utilize them. The only other thing you’ll need is worms and some food waste, and then your worm bin is complete.
You will need to manually remove the worms from the finished vermicompost with this method, but for a system that costs next to nothing, this is a great way to get started.
Method #2 – Stackable Vermicompost Systems
The way these systems work is worms start in the bottom tray, then work their way up to the top. You’ll place fresh food or “compost” in the tray above. After the worms are done processing the food in the bottom tray, they’ll work their way to the next tray up.
Because there are multiple trays, worms can get spread out over a few trays, and they might even have trouble “migrating” from one tray to the next.
If the worms don’t “migrate” properly, you’ll still have to spend the extra work removing them, which is the problem that you’re trying to avoid by investing in a system like this one. Still, if you get the process down, these stackable systems can work great.
Method #3 – Continuous Flow Through Systems
A continuous flow through system is the most convenient vermicomposting system for the end user. Above is the Urban Worm Bag from the Urban Worm Company.
Food is placed on top, so when you’re ready to add more food scraps, you can drop them in from the top location.
The worms will eat the food just below the surface, and keep processing this food as you add more food to the top.
They will leave behind processed media at the bottom of the bin. Since they’re done eating the food in the bottom of the bin, they won’t “hang out there” so fresh vermicompost can be harvested at the bottom.
This “continuous” flow of food being processed from the top-down is where this system gets its name. Food scraps go in at the top, vermicompost “flows through” to the bottom.
Your Turn – Will You Be Trying Vermicomposting At home?
Vermicomposting is a fun way to recycle waste from your home that would otherwise go into the waste stream. And, you can use this vermicompost as a superfood for your indoor or outdoor gardens.
Which method of vermicomposting are you going to try? Leave a comment below!