Benefits of worm castings for plants

By Teresa J. Frith

vermicompost

What are worm castings and why should you use them for your plants? Worm castings are the excrement of worms, essentially their poop. Sometimes you might hear the castings called  vermicast or vermicastings because “vermi” means worm, therefore the procedure of using worms in composting is called vermicomposting. 

When worms eat organic matter like the scraps from your kitchen meals, they are actually feeding on the microorganisms in that material. Their castings turn into a super fertilizer rich in nutrients and it contains five times more nitrogen, seven times more of potassium and phosphorus, as well as two times more calcium than mere dirt alone.

Worm castings actually assist in making the dirt more healthy for your plants by aerating the soil via the tunnels the worms make as they burrow through the dirt, which in turn helps the dirt absorb water better too so it’s not too dry. The castings also contain beneficial fungi and bacteria which helps to support other organisms living in the soil, which is vital if you’re doing any organic gardening.

Plants even grow quicker in soil enriched via worm castings and in some cases get twice as big as plants that don’t get the benefit of worm casting fertilizer. Best of all worm castings are eco-friendly, chemical free, won’t burn your plants like chemical fertilizers and don’t smell bad like some types of fertilizer. Instead they have a rich, earthy odor.

Another benefit of worm castings for plants is it helps protect them so they can fight off diseases or pests like predatory insects.

 

Using Worm Castings on Your Plants

photo of soil

The way you use this wonderful soil enhancer is by mixing it into your soil. A good ratio is a quarter percent of worm castings to three-quarters percent of potting mix. You can also add a cup of worm castings to two cups of dirt for starting seeds, and when you go to transplant your seedings, be sure to dump in about a quarter cup of them into each hole. If transplanting a tree or shrub, increase that to a full cup of worm castings for best results.

 

Where to Get Worm Castings

One of the best ways to always have worm castings on hand to use in your garden is to raise worms yourself. It’s not difficult and all you need is a proper container, bedding such as shredded paper, cardboard and soil, enough water added to make it moist, but not sodden, and a lid so the worms don’t escape. 

Then, you just feed your worms kitchen scraps like peels, cores, leftover scraps, coffee grounds (even coffee filters), grass clippings (not weeds or the weeds will come back up in your garden or yard), etc. Just don’t feed them dairy, meat, oils, human or animal waste products, or citrus fruit scraps. 

Soon they will be producing the luscious worm castings you need to fertilize your plants. If you start off with around 200 worms, you will end up with around seven pounds of castings in a month or so. You just need to separate the castings from the worms via dumping out your worm bin and sorting through it. 

These castings resemble rich, dark dirt and look a little like coffee grounds. If you squish a handful of them together, they will make a clump which holds together and feels a little like a sponge consistency. It may have tiny pieces of the food you’ve been feeding them, but that won’t keep the castings from being beneficial to your plants.

head of cabbage

So, in answer to what are the benefits of worm castings for plants, you can see that they are a wonderful and all-natural method of fertilizing plants and are quite easy to obtain and maintain for achieving higher yield of vegetables, fruits, or any other type of plants you choose to grow.

Invest in a worm bin such as the Worm Bucket today, and soon you'll have wonderful vermicompost that you can use to fertilize your plants with!