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Worm Castings - Natures Time Release Fertilizer

Mar 25, 2008
When a gardener goes out to his fields to start planting, one of the top concerns that he has on his mind is what will potentially be able to kill his crops. Modern man has created many alternatives to natural protection of crops such as pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides which can be harmful not only to the soil but also to the people that eat the plants as well as the aquifers that hold our drinking water beneath the ground. One of natures natural fertilizers as well as insect and disease repellents is called a worm casting. These small nodules are created by red worms as they participate in the composting process, something that they naturally do and have done for millions of years. Here are a few ways that you can use worm castings to not only enhance your organic garden but also protect it from harmful invaders.

Redworm compost is used by many people as a source for organic compost. By simply feeding them some organic scraps from their garden, over a period of time these scraps are processed into a compost that can be used as a mulch or a fertilizer. As the worms process the waste into compost, they also create what are called worm castings. Basically, the poop of the worm, castings can be used for a variety of reasons.

Primarily used as an organic fertilizer, most organic gardeners rely on worm composting and castings to not only balance the pH levels in the soil but also to help retain as much moisture as possible, something that all worms need an abundance of. Unlike most fertilizers, castings will not burn plants or roots if used too much. Moreover, they act as repellents for both insects and diseases that may strike your crops without you knowing.

Worm castings also contain a great variety of nutrients that are used by almost all plants today. Some of these nutrients include magnesium, nitrogen, and potassium which are necessary ingredients for a healthy crop or garden regardless if it is organic or not. What is also interesting is the castings are almost like a time release capsule that will, over time, release the necessary water soluble ingredients into the soil thus making it possible to simply top dress the castings on the soil and allow them to disintegrate over time.

Another aspect of castings are that they have many living components such as aerobic bacteria, the good kind, and organisms that will actually take gasses such as nitrogen from the atmosphere and fix them into usable nitrogen in the form of nitrate, thus feeding the roots of the plants even more.

Castings are naturally harvested over time. They tend to move to the lower levels of the worm bin and if the worms and their environment are regularly aerated by moving the dirt around, through vibration and churning, the castings will fall to the bottom of the bin to be harvested.

Many people are confused as to what worm castings actually are because some people have been shown a bag of castings mixed with compost. Pure castings look like black sand grains with no compost or dirt mixed in. If you get a bag of compost, and there is anything that does not look uniform, like sand grains, then you know that the castings were also not sifted properly from the compost itself. Having a mixture of vermicompost and castings can be beneficial as it will provide a steady stream of fertilizer as bacteria continue to break down the compost over time.

As a general rule, you can spread 10 pounds of worm castings over 150 foot to 200 foot area and be assured that this will properly fertilize your soil in the days to come as it begins to break down in a natural way. Many people that have large gardens or if they are growing crops on a commercial level may have their very own red worm compost generating system where they can access thousands of pounds of castings in order to maintain the vast spread that they are growing.

Another way to extract the nutrients from the castings is to add water to them and aerate them, then spray this castings tea which is high in organic nutrients onto the leaves, called foliar feeding, and into the soil. This is used by those who will use the bacterial nature of the castings to fight outside microorganisms that may land on the leaves and begin to sicken or weaken the plant. These beneficial microorganisms will destroy bad bacteria, fungus, and molds that may be growing on the leaf surface.

If you ever do decide to create a little organic garden, be sure to find a way to get worm castings for your garden. If you like the aspect of doing very little manual labor to achieve compost and fertilizer for your garden then create a supply of vermicompost and spread the compost and castings over your garden soil. Then let nature begin to naturally decompose these castings, through regular watering, so that your soil will have the optimum amount of nutrients necessary for a successful organic crop.
About the Author
Chris Dailey is the owner of Super Organic Gardening Secrets, a free online service that provides valuable information on organic gardening and worm castings. To download his 7 free organic gardening reports, go
to http://www.superorganicgardeningsecrets.com
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