Do you know you can feed organic matter to worms, mostly earthworms, to make a high-quality organic fertilizer? When you feed organic matter to earthworms they leave poop which is technically called vermicompost or worm casting. Vermicompost is very popular with gardeners who want to do organic gardening. Vermicompost is actually the poop of earthworms and other microorganisms that they leave after eating organic matter. Worm casting turns organic matter into humus. Depending on what you are feeding to the worms, the nutrient composition of your vermicompost varies, however, in most cases, vermicompost is high-grade natural fertilizer. Vermicompost does not have a bad smell, is fully organic, and the best part is it is ready to be used. Vermicompost consists of Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, etc.
Why Vermicompost is Good for Plants?
There are many different trace minerals and micronutrients in worm excrement. Worm castings help plants do well in soil that has pH levels that are either too low or too high. The castings make it possible for plants to soak up soil nutrients even at extreme pH levels. Worm casting humus helps to extract harmful bacteria and fungi as well as toxins from the earth. They can keep plants from succumbing to plant diseases. Such pests as spider mites, aphids, and whiteflies get repelled by vermicompost.
Vermicompost can be used all gardening season long and stored for a year. To use as an organic fertilizer, you can mix worm casting directly into your garden or potting soil. You can place compost on top of both outdoor and indoor plants. Don’t use undiluted vermicompost in containers and pots. There has to be a mixture of 1:4 ratio when combining vermicompost with potting soil. You want to dig the vermicompost into the soil you have just added when you prepare new plant beds. Put a bit of it around shrubs, mature plants, and trees. After you’ve spread it, water the plants and make sure the worm compost is saturated so that nutrients will quickly mix with the soil. Store the worm castings in a breathable container, so they don’t dry out. The active microbes in them will last up to a year.
Vermicompost can also germinate seeds by mixing half of it with half of the potting soil. You can spray the roots of transplants with brewed worm tea that has been diluted. Whatever way you choose to use vermicompost, you can be sure that your plants will grow better and stronger than they would have without this organic fertilizer. Earthworms are friends of the garden and will keep you in vermicompost for a long time to come.
When you are making vermicompost for the first time, you will have to buy the worms. However, when you are preparing the next batch of vermicompost, you can reuse the same worms. In fact, you will have more worms to make more vermicompost as the worms have both sexes and will continue to reproduce. The only thing you will have to worry about is feeding the worms. The worms used in worm casting are voracious, they feed pretty fast. However, if you have fairly grown garden, you can feed green plants, grass clippings and your kitchen waste (organic).
Difference Between Vermicompost and Regular Compost
Vermicomposting does not require as much labor as regular composting. Composting requires that you stockpile so you’ll be ready for the next time you need to fertilize. With vermicomposting, that is not necessary since the worm activity helps to fragment, mix, and aerate waste. It also does not require as much space as regular composting piles. With vermicomposting, you only need a five-gallon bucket or a twenty-gallon bin so you can also have indoor systems. When it comes to proper composting methods, they tend to slow down in freezing weather. You can use vermicomposting all year round. Earthworms can improve the fertility of the soil and can boost crop production with their worm castings. They excrete microbes that are beneficial to the soil and other nitrogenous compounds.
Vermicomposting does not require as much gathering of materials and worms can accelerate waste breakdown. It also gives the advantage that the biomass acquired from the worms can be sold or used to feed other animals or for starting other worm composting systems. It also has the advantage of being used indoors. The downside of vermicomposting is that weed seeds don’t get eliminated. It needs to be applied in thin layers and needs to remain at low temperatures.
Composting with worms is faster, and under ideal conditions, worms eat half their weight in vegetation per day. There is less odor with vermicomposting than with regular composting. Therefore, you can do vermicomposting indoors as well as outdoors. Worm castings contain the gut bacteria and mucus of worms that can be helpful to plants. Vermicompost has more nitrogen-fixing bacteria than regular compost. It helps plants to get minerals much more quickly.
Vermicomposting Vs. Composting: Which is Better
Regular composting is a lot easier compared to vermicomposting because you do not have to handle the worms. When you are doing vermicomposting, you have to handle worms carefully. While vermicompost is the worms’ potty, vermicomposting takes little time, however, composting takes a lot of time because it takes time to degrade the organic matter. Regular composting has to do with high temperatures, therefore, it is a slow process during the cold season. Even in the warm season, if there is not much organic matter to degenerate and the temperature of the compost bin/pit does not rise, composting takes time.
Vermicomposting can be important in eliminating weed seeds and pathogens. On the other hand, regular composting is not as effective, in fact, regular compost is a low-grade fertilizer, whereas vermicompost is considered high-grade organic fertilizer. In order to raise the temperature, a huge amount of substrate is required. As a result, there can be more water and nitrogen loss, and it requires a lot more work. So the choice is up to you after you have made all the comparisons between regular composting and vermicomposting.