Worm Castings Add Life to Garden Soil

As science gets a better handle on the complex nature of soil, we are beginning to understand the massive role microbial life plays in our garden soil. We are also starting to see how many modern chemical fertilizers and growing practices can kill valuable biologic life and trade short term gains for long term issues like soil degradation. Thriving soils are jam-packed with living organisms like bacteria, actinomycetes, fungi, algae, beneficial nematodes & protozoa. All of these living organisms work together in amazing ways to promote plant growth and fight off disease.

Worm Castings
Worm castings are a powerful soil amendment.

What are worm castings?

Worm castings are the end-product of the breakdown of organic materials by earthworms. Also known as vermicast, worm humus, worm manure or worm feces, these castings have been shown to contain reduced levels of contaminants and a high saturation of nutrients.

Worms, worm castings, and worm teas can help improve the soil in your garden or growing containers around your home. Worm castings have been deemed by some as the perfect fertilizer because they contain a rich variety of valuable nutrients and organic life. Cornell University goes into great detail about how these organisms can improve your soil biology and fight off pathogens and other diseases that take hold in your flat earth garden, raised garden bed or containers.

When using commercially sourced soils and planting mediums in container gardening, the lack of natural benefits provided by worms in native organic soil renders the container soil short on biologic diversity. Luckily there are a variety of ways to introduce this biology into the roots and soil to improve plant health and grow larger yields in containers.

What is worm tea?

Worm tea is the concentrated form of the beneficial biology offered by worm castings. Teas are brewed with molasses and aerated sometimes for several days to extract and expand the beneficial microbes created by the worm digestive process. Home brewed worm teas can be made using some basic equipment but need to be made fresh and used right away so the microbial life doesn’t die off. However, some commercial worm tea manufacturers have found ways to render the microbes dormant with a shelf life and reactivate them at a later date for use in your garden. While worm teas do not offer much in NPK values they do help unlock nutrients in the soil, assist with aeration and water retention in the soil, and can form a synergistic relationship with plants and roots to promote overall health and fight off disease.

Worm castings and worm teas support sustainable and organic growing methods and offer an opportunity to clean up the environment. They also help you grow the best tasting fruits and vegetables that can’t be matched by many modern farming practices and big agriculture.

Guest Author bio: Tony Staniger is an employee of Denali BioSolutions, a manufacturer of organic OMRI certified worm castings and premium liquid fertilizer and soil amendment products. 

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