Co-authored by Gary Green at the MAGIC Worm Ranch
Most would agree that to grow strong, healthy plants we must start with strong, healthy soil. For many decades, the trend in the agricultural industry and subsequently, for at-home gardeners, has been to dump chemical-ridden additives onto their plants to make them grow bigger and faster. This process, over time, has upset the natural balance of the soil and has introduced non-native elements to the surrounding environment and our bodies.
Every chemical fertilizer, pesticide, herbicide, and fungicide produced will, in some way, affect the biology of the soil, depleting and killing the beneficial microorganisms that are present in healthy soil. Every one of these microorganisms has its own specific job to do in the soil; if they are no longer present, the balance of the soil becomes unhealthy. Unhealthy soil results in plants becoming less productive. The response to this is often to add more of the chemical-based additives to make the plants grow and produce more. This may have a temporary positive effect, but ultimately it will kill more of the beneficial microorganisms, constantly depleting the soil and introducing a plethora of inorganic components to the produce.
Earthworm Castings are the answer to this problem. What are Earthworm Castings? For those unfamiliar with the term, castings are a natural byproduct of earthworms that are produced by the consumption of organic materials that are then passed through the digestive tract, essentially it is worm manure. The castings can be harvested through a process known as vermicomposting, using a worm composter, and then used as an organic fertilizer. Castings look, feel, and smell like nutrient-rich black topsoil. This rich and fertile soil amendment is properly conditioned for optimal root health and contains all the necessary elements required for well-rounded plant nutrition.
Worms are nature's way of returning organic material back into the soil, so that the natural growing cycle can continue. Vermicomposting can produce some of the best soil amendment money can buy. Worms will break materials down to its most simple form and their castings introduce nutrients to a plant’s root system in a way that will not leach out and away from the roots.
Make sure your source is from a trustworthy source.
There is a significant difference in the quality of worm casting:
Using Earthworm Castings can:
- Increase the overall size of a plant or fruit - ranging from 20% to 50%
- Increase the amount of fruit produced by tomato plants by more than 50%
- Increase the growth of flowers my a large margin
Photos provided by MAGIC Worm Ranch: