These days many growers are looking for more organic ways to produce healthier crops. There are many plant nutrient products on the market today (Nutrients, Macro-nutrients, Micro-nutrients, pH up, pH down, etc.). New growers can become overwhelmed by the choices available and tend to over complicate the process by adding all kind of nutrients, adjusting pH up and down, assuming they are helping the plant. Unless you are an experienced grower this method usually ends up in disaster causing root damage, lockout or just poor growth. If you want a safe, organic, pH balanced, multi-nutrient fertilizer for your plants you need to include Earthworm Castings in your regiment. Earthworm castings are the richest natural fertilizer known to humans!
What Are Earthworm Castings?
In laymen’s terms it’s just worm poop. As worms digest they reduce nutrients to their most usable form and remove heavy metals like lead and cadmium from the soil. This makes the poop heavy metal free. Worm castings contain more nutrients and bacteria than any other fertilizer. This includes minerals such as nitrates, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and calcium. It also contains manganese, copper, zinc, cobalt, borax, iron, carbon and nitrogen. Worm castings also contain helpful enzymes and good bacteria. What more could you ask for
Germination and Growing Benefits
Many growers have found that adding worm castings to their soil shortens the germination cycle for new plants, increases yield on their crops, and protects the plants from disease. The castings have billions of tiny, healthy bacteria that contribute to rapid germination by producing plant growth regulators within the plant. The USDA cites that worm castings are “several times higher in nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium than topsoil.”
Disease: Earthworm Castings have proven to stop many plant diseases by releasing a substance that interferes with the chemical signaling between the pathogen and the host. As well they help form a protective barrier at the microbial level to help fight off infections.
Pests: Worm castings contain microbes that help stimulate the production of “chitinase”, a chemical which breaks down the exoskeletons of many insects.
How Much to Use
Although many growers develop their own ratio for soil/castings mix, as a general rule you can use a 75% soil / 25% casting mix. Worm castings can also be used as a top dressing to existing plants. For indoors potted plants just put a few tablespoons on top and watch your plants flourish.
The beauty of worm castings is that you cannot screw it up. The castings will not burn the roots or cause any ill effects on the plant, no matter how much you add. Theoretically you could grow in 100% worm castings and be fine.
By using earthworm castings in your growing regiment as a base you can achieve a balanced nutrient program without having all the potential downfalls a novice grower tends to make. Once you are more comfortable with growing you can SLOWLY start to add other nutrients to the regiment if needed. I cannot stress SLOWLY enough. You need to see how the plants react to the new nutrients. The most common mistakes of new growers is overwatering and/or over fertilizing, causing lockout or root burn.
Keep it Simple. Keep it Natural. Your plants will love you for it!