Worm castings are a wonderful resource that you can obtain for free, endlessly, by investing in a worm bin. It is basically worm poop, and it’s an excellent organic fertilizer that helps boost germination, plant growth and yield.
In this article, we will discuss how to use worm castings in your garden.
Collecting castings from your worm bin
In order to use vermicompost in your garden, you first need to collect it from your worm bin. This process is simple.
There are several methods that you can do to harvest your worm castings. One method is called using "Mounds" - basically, dump the contents of the bin onto a sheet of newspaper, separate out the earthworms, and then scoop up the vermicompost. You just separate the compost into several mounds and the worms will move into the center of each mound allowing you to scoop up worm free castings on the outside edges. You just keep moving toward the center of each mound until you're left with only mounds of worms that you can then re-seed a new bin with.
Another way to harvest worm castings and the method that we suggest for use with the Worm Bucket is called the "Light Harvesting Method." This doesn't mean light as in weight but light as in sunlight. Worms naturally try to avoid sunlight since they're sub-terraranan dwellers. By shining a powerful light down into the bin, you're able to trigger the Worms' natural tendency to burrow down and run away from the light. You are then able to scoop off some castings off the top and then you'll be able to quickly harvest worm-free castings.
One thing to note with the Light Harvest Method is that you won't be able to separate the cocoons from the castings in this method so you'll want to get a soil sifter if saving all cocoons is important to you.
Congratulations, now this wonderful material is now ready to use to feed your plants!
Using worm castings
You can use vermicompost to improve the soil of practically any plants – which includes houseplants, kitchen herbs, and outdoor plants. It is completely organic, and it won’t burn your plants if you accidentally apply too much. However, if you have a large or medium-sized garden, it’s a good idea to ration out the stuff so all your plants get a little bit.
Applying it is easy. Just grab a handful for a medium sized plant, and sprinkle it on the soil surface above the plant’s roots. It is usually used dry as a mulch, but you can also sprinkle in a handful when potting up a plant. When applying as a mulch, it’s a good idea to gently scratch it into the soil while avoiding disturbing the plant’s roots.
If you want to mix in the vermicompost with potting soil, use a large potting tray and mix in a cup of vermicompost. You can always alter the quantity based on how much you have available.
Lastly, worm castings can be used in your compost pile, to speed things up and to add nutrients to it so your compost, when ready, is richer. Put it in between layers of different materials for best results.
We recommend not using more than 20% of worm castings to your soil. It's not a true fertilizer but rather soil amendment. It's main goal is to add biodiversity to your soil and add additional microbes that help plants grow stronger and resist disease.
How often should you apply worm castings?
Reapply seasonally, or as often as it becomes available. As mentioned previously, there is no such thing as too much vermicompost, so if your earthworms are extra productive or you have a tiny garden, you can use as much as you’d like. However, if you have an excess, consider sharing it with your friends and neighbors. They’ll appreciate it!
Vermicompost is also applied when plants set buds and fruit, to give your plants an extra nutrient boost when they need it the most.
What about worm tea?
Worm castings are usually used fresh out of the worm bin, because that’s the easiest way to apply them. However, if you’d like to give your plants a quick boost, you can make liquid fertilizer known as ‘worm tea’ by steeping the castings in a little water overnight. The water will soak up all the goodness of the castings, and be ready to use in your garden the next day!
To use worm tea, mix it with water and water your plants as usual. It may be a good idea to water at soil level so as to not waste any of the fertilizer, but you don’t have to, since worm tea is a mild, organic fertilizer and won’t burn the leaves or flowers. After this step, spread the wet castings onto the soil surface to make efficient use of the substance.
For a step-by step instruction of using the Worm Bucket's built-in Worm Tea brewing bucket, watch Audrey's video below: