Supercharge your worm castings and get the most from your vermicompost
Many of us already know the virtues of worm castings present in your growing medium. They’re especially helpful when we’re growing in an environment where it isn’t practical to naturally encourage the worms in to the rhizosphere – or at least not in the numbers we’d like! Indoor gardening, container gardening and hydroponics would be 3 such examples. Worm castings produced in your own farm or even the bought online if of a high enough quality provide an opportunity to add this beneficial life that the worms leave behind in to the root zone.
You can increase the life in the worm castings before you add them!
By adding some extra ingredients to the worm castings and setting them aside for a day or so you can multiply the life within this already top notch input. You can also do this before brewing them up in to a compost tea.
Supercharging your worm castings is a fairly straightforward process. The three main ingredients are Worm castings – of course, Oatmeal and molasses. Firstly find yourself a source of oatmeal, I prefer to grind my own from oats – this gives me a fine powder that I can mix evenly through the worm castings. This puts a source of food for the fungi contained within the compost throughout the mix as opposed to random sites if you just add oats. It also increases the surface area of the oatmeal overall increasing it’s efficacy. Next the molasses. Make a fairly dilute solution with water at about 500:1 or so and spray on to your castings. Just enough to make them damp. You don’t want pools to occur or to clog up the pores in the castings too much. This will provide a food source for the bacteria – if you’re used to brewing compost teas you may think that this step is unnecessary and you’d be half right – you don’t need to mess with your vermicompost just like you don’t need to add high octane fuel to your car – but if you want to squeeze every last ounce of performance out – it’s worth it.
Finally place a secure lid on your mixture and place it in a reasonably warm dark place away from anything that can get at it. I personally add air holes to my pots with cotton wool acting as a breathable membrane. This keeps things aerobic whilst keeping anything unwanted out of the mix. After 3-4 days or however long you’re happy with you should now have a mix with visible fungal mycelia. If you chose not to grind your oats you’ll find this concentrated at the sites of the food source, but if you mixed the powdered meal through it will be all over. You’ll have also kick started other life within the worm castings too! The bacteria will already be an order of magnitude above what it was before and if you place a sample under the microscope you may be surprised to see more nematodes than you are used to if you simply brew your tea with standard vermicompost. All because you gave a kick start to the soil food web, either before you add it back in to the rhizosphere or before you go on to brew it up as a tea. 1. Header shows Macro of fungal mycelia through the worm castings.