Worm Tea

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Today’s essay shares some insight into brewing worm tea.  We will find out what is worm tea and it’s benefits to plants.

Enjoy,

 

David Proctor

Urban Farmer

Urban Farmer


 

Worm Tea

                      by David Proctor


July 30, 2015

Urban Farm Lifestyle Magazine

Published Weekly

I have always had an interest in composting.  It just seems to be a very good way to recycle waste from the yard or kitchen instead of throwing it in the trash or down the disposal.

Most of the land that I have ever lived on was in dire need of soil nutrients to grow ornamental plants or for the garden.  It is pretty easy to purchase a bag of compost and spread it around to increase the vitality of the plants.

When you spread a bag of store bought compost, you have to wonder if any living microbes that plants need are in the compost or is it just a bag of dead, inert dirt.

That is what made me think about all the vegetable table scraps that were just being dumped.  What if those scraps, along with the yard clippings from mowing and leaves from the trees when they fall, could be recycled into something good for the plants and less going to the landfill.

One of the best solutions that I have come across was noticing that when I dug for earthworms to go fishing, that the soil that had the best and most wiggly earthworms was also great looking dirt.

My mom always thought it would be a great idea to raise worms because of all the places to fish in Missouri and the demand for bate.  My mom was pretty smart.  Maybe I should have listened to her because when I started to research earthworms and the process of vermiculture  (vermes is Latin for worms), I discovered not only a solution for my plants, table scraps, but also maybe an occasional worm for bate.

A win-win.

Let’s take a look at this process and see if it is right for us.

According to Wikipedia, the dictionary of today,

Vermicompost is the product or process of composting using various worms, usually red wigglerswhite worms, and other earthworms to create a heterogeneous mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste, bedding materials, and vermicast.

Vermicast, also called worm castings, worm humus or worm manure, is the end-product of the breakdown of organic matter by an earthworm.[1] These castings have been shown to contain reduced levels of contaminants and a higher saturation of nutrients than do organic materials before vermicomposting.[2] (Vermicompost)

This is all sounding like a very good path to go.

                                 How to make Worm Tea

Now that we have seen how to make worm tea and a few ways to apply the fertilizer, lets move on to the benefits of worm tea.  And by the way, the castings can be put in a mesh so they are kept separate of the liquid, leaving a solution that does not need to be strained.

The Benefits of Using Worm Tea
by Yelm Earthworms and Casting Farm

• Worm Tea will out-perform chemical fertilizer. Increasing both plant size and yield. This is due to interaction of Worm Tea microbes with the soil microbes and protozoa, soil particles and the roots of the plant itself.

• Worm Tea used as an inoculant for potting soil will suppress airborne pathogenic fungi that can readily infect sterile potting medium. The organisms in Worm Tea also produce hormones, vitamins, nutrients, enzymes, amino acids and minerals needed by seedling cuttings and young plants. Inoculation should be done two weeks prior to planting.

• Plants grown in soil treated with Worm Tea are healthier due to the symbiotic relationship between the plant and the microbes in the root zone. Plants feed the microbes and the microbes produce or make available all of the food and medicine the plant needs to thrive.

Plants grown in soil treated with Worm Tea are more nutritious than plants grown in soil treated with chemical fertilizer. The food value of these plants is increased due to the availability of minerals, vitamins, enzymes and amino acids.

•Worm Tea can remediate soil that has been damaged by agricultural chemicals. With repeated application the microbes will adapt to the soil as well as convert and metabolize organic and inorganic chemicals. They will also sequester heavy metals not required by plants.

• Worm Tea can treat lawns affected with thatch, which is a condition caused by sterility in the underlying soil. Chemicals usually cause sterility. Worm Tea will repopulate the soil with microbes, enrich the roots and break down the thatch turning it into food for the grass.

• Worm Tea applied to the soil improves water retention. Many of the microbes manufacture protective mucus that acts as glue to agglomerate soil particles. Microbial colonies also make a bio-slime that is mostly water and is retained to protect the colony  The water retentive property of healthy soil can be 3-4 times greater than unhealthy soil.

• Worm Tea applied along with insoluble granulated or powdered minerals such as  granite, limestone, rock phosphate, etc will supply 95% of everything the soil needs. The other 5% is organic material applied as mulch or litter on the surface of the soil or as dead root material under the soil surface.

• The microbes in Worm Tea turn organic matter into humus, storing energy for later use. This is the basic unit of soil fertility.

• The microbes in Worm Tea feed other organisms in the soil food chain.  Protozoa and nematodes feed on bacteria and fungi directly while worms ingest bacteria laden soil particles. All life in the soil depends on microbes, directly or indirectly.

• Worm Tea applied as a foliar spray will act as a fertilizer.  Plants will produce more foliage and larger stems.  This is a good treatment for plants that are stressed or lacking enough sun.

• Worm Tea applied to a compost pile will accelerate the breakdown of plant material reducing the amount of time to make compost. It can also be used to re-inoculate the pile after it has gone through its hot phase, which inactivates or kills many of the beneficial microbes. Re-inoculation increases the population of beneficial microbes, which continue to breakdown organic matter and form humus. (Worm)

Taken from http://yelmworms.com/compost-tea/

In researching worm tea, I have not found anything but benefits to the soil and the plants that it is applied to.  I have not seen any caution labels, side effects, or skull and cross bones.

When you start to look at the natural process of decomposition and the role that worms play in this process, it just makes since to use a natural organic method to help you plants grow and maintain their vigor.

Take a look at this next video, of a proud gardener.

LOOK at the difference Compost Tea makes! A garden comparison.

He was very happy with his results.

It does not take a lot of materials to provide a happy home for worms.  In the Check it out, section, I have provided a few links on how to get started with a worm compost system and how to care for the worms.

Who knows where I would have been today if only I had listened to my mom!


 

Check It Out!

How to Make a Worm Compost System

Worm Bin Care PDF


 

Quick Tip

Tips on Storing Worm Tea – Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm

 1. Do not store the brewed worm tea recipe inside a pet bottle, unless you want the beneficial microbes to die right away.
2. It’s best that you store it inside a container, with a lid that loosely covers it, or without a lid. This is important since the good microorganisms in the worm tea solution needs air. If you fail to do this, your tea may soon smell horrible; and your plants and soil won’t be able to fully appreciate the benefits that come with your worm tea.
3. To sum it all up, you’ll really need to consume it within 24 hours. (Tips)
Download:                  unclejimswormfarm.com/index.php/pdf

Bibliography
“Vermicompost.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 28 July 2015.
“Tips on Storing Worm Tea.” N.p., n.d. Web. 28 July 2015.
“Worm Castings & Soils.” Worm Castings & Soils. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 July 2015.

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