Okay so you’ve set up the bin, fed them and it’s been about 3-6 months and you’ve got a couple of gallons of worm poo (AKA: Worm Castings, Vermicast, Vermicompost) … now what?
While the above terms are used interchangeably, there is a slight difference. Worm Castings/Vermicast is really worked over, processed, older stuff. There are those in the industry that insist that they’re better, worse and equal. All sides have done “testing” of various sorts and no one agrees. Vermicompost is a little less worked over, a little more “chunkey” in consistency and has some unprocessed organic material that is still considered “compost”.
Some people think you should spread it over your garden as one would a bag of steer manuer. I often joke with people that the reason that it’s so much more expensive is that it takes the worms 3 months to poo out what a cow can do in a day. It’s not a soil amender. The benefit of vermicompost is directly to the roots of your plants. So it’s important to work in some where you’re going to be planting seeds. I also put in a handful in the hole before I add my transplants. To an established plant you can rake it into the soil really good, water and mulch.
I’ve mentioned “microbes” – these are the billions of microorganisms that can be found in the form of bacteria, fungi, and nematodes of worm castings. The job of these microbes is to turn organic material (like your food waste) into inorganic minerals. We may add compost to the soil and think it’s helping the plants, but plants don’t uptake rotten banana peels and tea leaves. What plants take up is minerals. So it’s really the microbes doing all the work. The amazing perfection of the process is that the plant takes up the inorganic minerals and processes it into the sugars that plants use and sends some of those sugars back to its roots to be secreted into the soil. Sugar is an organic material… used to feed the microbes so they can turn it into inorganic minerals for the plants to use. It’s the perfect simbiotic relationship!!!
What has happened is that thanks to the sulphurs and salts that are found in chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, we’ve created an environment in which these microbes cannot live. The cholorine in our water will kill a lot of them. For those of us with clay soil, or where no Oxygen can be found, the folks that developed our homes removed the topsoil and left us with hardpan, we’re really devoid of these wonderful microbes. Reintroducing these microbes back into our dirt to turn it into useful soil is the most wonderful thing we can do. I love the quote that a gardener’s job is not to grow plants but to care for the soil so plants may grow themselves.
I often hear “I don’t have a yard” as an excuse not to vermicompost. I gave away worm poo to some people for Christmas last year and they were THRILLED! My house plants love it as much as my garden does!
There is another application for vermicompost… worm tea.
I’m going to have to have that be your cliff hanger and get going on other things today. I hope I’ve given you an applicable overview and that I’ve not only answered some questions but created more. I look forward to future dialogues with you on this subject.
Please take a minute to leave a comment or ask questions!
Guest post provided by: Michelle McCarty
find her on Facebook: Wonder Wormin’ Vermicomposting Systems
Category: Guest Posts