One of the keys to a healthy, productive garden is to feed your plants and garden soil powerful, organic nutrients on a regular basis.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing all about “Feeding Your Garden”, in a series of blog posts and YouTube videos. This series is will be about four of my favorite, tested, go to products that I use to feed my garden: worm castings, worm tea, my favorite organic fertilizer, and, of course, compost. These products help my garden be healthy, productive and grow lots of food for my family to eat and share with others.
We all know how amazing worms are for our gardens. Earthworm castings and earthworm tea (covered in the next post) are produced by worms and are very beneficial for the long term plant and soil health of our gardens.
Earthworm castings are organic, and are a powerful soil enhancement. In this post, we’re going to talk about what worm castings are, why they are beneficial to our gardens, and how to use them.
What Are Worm Castings?
Simply put, worm castings are worm manure, or worm poop. Unlike cow or horse manure, they don’t smell. In fact, they are very earthy smelling, safe for the environment, and safe to use around your family and pets
Why are Worm Castings Beneficial for Our Gardens?
1. More than just NPK
Worm castings supply so much more than just the nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK) that you see on bags of garden fertilizer. They also supply elements, trace minerals and natural growth hormones that are critical to optimal plant growth.
In addition, worm castings are high in humic acid. Humic acid frees up nutrients in the soil, making these nutrients readily available to your garden veggies. This makes worm castings more powerful than animal manures and synthetic fertilizers – which must be broken down in the soil before the plants can absorb the nutrients.
2. Rich in Beneficial Bacteria and Microbes
Beneficial bacteria and microbes are microscopic organisms that are added by the worm in it’s digestive process and are very active in worm castings. The microbes and beneficial bacteria help create a healthy, living soil. They live around the roots of the plant, protecting them – making them healthy and strong – and provide the perfect atmosphere for vigorous plant growth.
3. Support Against Pests and Disease
The army of good microbes in the worm castings protect the roots of your plants. Healthy plants are able to defend themselves against pests and disease, while weak plants emit a wavelength that attracts pests and disease.
Over the years, I’ve made my own castings with a DIY worm bin and purchased bags of castings at a local garden center. However, for several months now, I have been using VermisTerra organic earthworm castings regularly in my garden. They are quick and simple to use, a little goes a LONG way, and the results I am seeing are pretty impressive!
VermisTerra is a Southern California family owned business. Because they are located nearby, I had the opportunity to meet the family personally. As I got to know them, not only was I deeply touched by their family’s story, but realized that they take great care to make sure their worm castings and worm tea are of the highest quality.
Their expert, Mindy, paid several visits to my garden. During her visits, she shared with me that her dad, grandfather and uncle ran a veggie farm for 20 years. They used conventional methods with chemical fertilizers. When Mindy was in college, her dad and grandfather contracted cancer, and although they fought hard to overcome the disease, they didn’t make it.
After their deaths, her uncle switched to farming with organic methods, and then decided to start a worm farm in 2002. Because of their personal tradgedy, Mindy and her uncle became passionate about teaching people how to grow their own food organically. Though their worm farm, they began producing high quality worm castings and worm tea that are safe for people to use on their gardens.
What Makes VermisTerra Worm Castings Special?
VermisTerra worms are fed green waste – using no animal manure or fillers like newspaper or cardboard. The castings are then aged 7-10 years, and screened, making them a super fine texture, and easy for plants to absorb. Many people think the fresher worm castings are, the better. Quite the opposite! When worm castings are fresh, they contain undigested material that is still decomposing, and the plants are not able to absorb the nutrients in the castings.
VermisTerra is certified organic by the USDA, and the California CDFA. They test each batch of castings (something very unusual in the industry) to make sure they are of the highest quality, and contain no heavy metals or toxins.
VermisTerra’s worm castings truly are “black gold” for your garden!
How to use Worm Castings in your Garden
Worm castings are very easy to incorporate into your regular garden feeding routine. The key is: keep it simple, and little goes a very long way.
Worm castings are especially effective for starting seeds indoors or out, because they protect the roots of the seedings, help prevent damping off disease, and keep fungus gnats under control.
-Use a soilless mix of 2 parts coco coir (more on this in video below) and 1 part worm castings, OR
-Add worm castings to your bagged potting soil, 2 parts potting soil to 1 part worm castings.
-Place your potting mix/soiless mix in small seed cells, a cup, or other small container.
-Plant your seeds.
Worm castings are effective for containers plants because they are time released (thus only need to be used once a season) and don’t burn the plants.
-Put 1-3 tablespoons around the base of your container plants
-Scratch into the surface
-Water in with worm tea – castings and worm tea are a perfect team! (More on this in my next blog post.)
Using worm castings in your garden beds will increase the survival rate of your transplants, creates aeration, and makes your soil healthier. Soon you’ll see more worms in your garden beds – they will leave their own castings. Over time, you will need to add less and less castings as your soil becomes a healthy, living environment for your plants.
-Sprinkle 1-3 tablespoons into the planting hole directly, OR
-Use 1 pound per square foot when amending your entire garden bed.
-Water with worm tea.
Watch the video on my YouTube channel below “How to Use Worm Castings in Your Garden”, to see exactly how to use them, and to enter a drawing for free worm castings. Watch today – entry deadline is February 15th, 2017!
To purchase VermisTerra worm castings or tea, click on the “Partner’s Store” tab at the top of this page, use promo code “calikim” for 10% off. Receive free shipping for any orders over $55. For a limited time, they are offering a free quart of worm tea (a $26.99 value) with any purchase, so you can try it out for yourself!
I’m seeing fantastic results with using VermisTerra’s‘s worm castings in my seedlings, container plants and garden beds. My winter garden this year has been very healthy and one of the most productive I’ve ever had!
Have you ever used worm castings in your garden? Comment below and let me know!
Thanks to VermisTerra for providing worm castings to test in my garden and for sponsoring this blog post. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links – I make a small commission when you order through these links and its helps me keep the garden content coming!