What are Worm Castings?
As worms digest organic food, they reduce nutrients to their most usable form. Worms also remove heavy metals like copper, lead, and cadmium from soil. This makes worm castings metal free.
Worm castings contain more nutrients and bacteria than any other fertiliser. 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 enzymes and humus. The finished product is neutral pH of 7.0. Plants get their nutrients and water from the soil. A single tablespoon of worm castings could feed a small pot plant for over 2 months. Worm castings increases garden yields by as much as 25%.
Some of the bacteria form the earthworms digestive system makes its way into the castings. Worm castings contain a unique combination of helpful enzymes and good bacteria. This microbial activity is up to 20 times higher than in the soil and organic matter that they digested. This helps to stimulate plant growth.
Soil is the foundation for healthy plants. Worm castings make a great soil conditioner improving soil structure and water retention. Worm castings are extremely water absorbent, able to hold 2-3 times it’s own weight in moisture. It is also far richer in nutrients than soil itself. With 2 times more calcium, 5 times more nitrogen, and 7 times more phosphorus and potassium.
Worm Castings are not always available, so when they are, you should take the opportunity to buy some.
Worm Castings vs. Chemical Fertilisers
Chemical fertilisers are a quick win solution which help plants grow fast and strong. They contain all the essential nutrients for plant growth. This include nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. But it also damage soil, increase acidity (lowers pH), encourages plant disease and contaminates ground water.
The acids contained in chemical fertilisers destroy soil structure. This makes it more compact and less penetrable. And the increase in acidity kills beneficial microbes which protects plants from disease. We all know how important earthworms are to have for a healthy garden. Earthworms cannot survive the acidic conditions as well. Chemical fertilisers are high in nitrogen in relation to phosphate. This makes plants more susceptible to disease.