Worm Castings Tea will give your plants a lift
There is an enterprising teenager at my church who is growing compost worms to sell. One of the by-products of his operation is the excess liquid that drains off of his worm bins and is extracted during the watering process. It makes fantastic fertilizer for your plants. I was able to snag a gallon of it last week (at a very good price I might add). I’m going to turn it into worm castings tea.
In a few months I’m going to purchase some red wigglers from my friend and set up my own vermicomposting system. Then I will be able to make a fresh batch whenever I want, because the benefits of worm castings on your plants are too good to pass up.
Worm castings and the tea you make also wards off root-knot nematodes – a parasitic creature that causes deformed roots and drain nutrients out of plants.
Plants like strawberries, that tend to attract fungal spores will also benefit. Castings contain anti-fungal chemicals that help kill the spores of black spot and powdery mildew.
How to make worm castings tea
2 cups worm castings
2 tablespoons corn syrup or molasses
5 gallon bucket
old sock or pantyhose (no holes)
water (rainwater is best or let it sit out overnight to allow chemicals to dissipate)
- pour the castings in the sock and tie it closed
- submerge the stocking in water
- add the corn syrup and soak for 24 hours, stirring every few hours
Adjust amounts to make as much (or as little) as you need. If you have enough vermicompost, you can brew up a very large batch of worm tea so you have enough for a vegetable garden. You may be so successful at growing worms that you have enough to sell to friends and neighbors. For the best results use your worm castings tea within 48 hours.
You can purchase bottled teas if you do not have access to castings – the largest brand name is TerraCycle All Purpose Plant Food. You can also purchase 15 lbs of organic earthworm castings like this brand for a very reasonable price. Check your local nursery.
Using worm castings tea
Like regular compost or manure tea, castings tea should be diluted to look like you’ve brewed a weak herbal tea. Try a 3 to 1 ratio. Then it can be:
- added to your gardens during regular watering
- used on houseplants
- used as a foliar fertilizer and sprayed on plants leaves
- used “very weak” – 5 parts water to 1 part tea, on new vegetable, herb and flower starts
Since I have purchased tea that has been extracted I don’t have to do the soak part. Some people put a fish tank bubbler in their tea and aerobically brew to introduce more oxygen than stirring. Here’s a link to making a brewer with a bubbler for under $30.
In the brewing method, compost/castings are placed into a container of circulated and aerated water (via an air bubbler or similar system) typically with other nutrients. The circulated water extracts the microbiology and the microbes are in an abundance of both oxygen and nutrient to feed upon. In this method, colonies of microbes are brewed in exponential numbers; a colony of bacteria for instance can double in population every 20 minutes. Aerobic brewing takes longer than basic extraction with common brewing times of 12 to 24 hours. Brewing time is very dependent on water temperature with warmer water creating faster brews. Aerobically brewed teas have much higher microbe population densities than extracted teas and for this reason are the teas of choice. The sign of a good aerobically brewed tea is a good head of foam and scum on top signifying healthy microbe action!
Well, I’m off to spray my house plants and vegetable starts with my newest batch of worm castings tea. later in the season I’ll update this post with pictures of how well they’ve done.