Worm Castings Usage In Gardens
Worm castings is used by several landscapers and gardeners who appreciate the short AND long term benefits of worm castings. The cast has a time released process that many have come to appreciate. The rich humus is spongy, therefore absorbing water and holding in nutrients and releasing them when the plant feels the need to absorb the food.
Gardeners tend to approach worm castings usage as a set-it-and-forget-it attitude. Landscapers as well, because they know they will not have to be back continuously for high maintenance. If you do your own landscaping around your house, especially edible-landscaping, then using worm castings for the increased yields and beauty will not only make the neighbors envious, but also want to be invited over for dinner.
To apply the cast in your garden or landscaping plants as transplants, dig the hole where you will put the plant in. Now put the cast in first so that the roots rest on top. When the roots grow throughout the months they will grow through the cast, out, and underneath.
Next, cover up the castings and plant roots. Lastly, what I like to do is sprinkle a little in around the top since the cast is great for holding moisture in. Mix it in a little with the surrounding soil on top.
Maintain the fertilizing process throughout the spring and summer by reapplying the top dressing or working it in a little deeper while trying not to disturb the delicate root system.
The cast should be used throughout the drip line area (from the ground at the stalk to the outer branches) to ensure that the roots, which can extend out for many feet on some plants, are readily getting the nutrients.
Worm castings usage in seed rows
A germinating seed, just like a newly hatched chick from an egg, has all the necessary nutrients available to sustain life after the first few days, but then becomes dependent on its surroundings for the rest of its life.
So, to add the cast to the seed row, simply sprinkle a little in then drop your seeds in and cover up as usual. Cultivate the cast into the topsoil about once a month.
Worm castings usage in starter pots
First of all let me say (in my most humble opinion) that the best mix of all for your starter pots is the one you come up with yourself. Someone can tell you that this mix is best or that one, but there can be several variables that may call for several variations.
Now don’t be concerned. Use the worm castings. Use it until your little heart is content. I’m just saying that there are some plants that do better with more and some that do better with less. Some people have a different climate and some have different soils.
As a general rule of thumb, what I and other worm farming ranchers use, is a mix of 25% to 33% cast to other growth mediums. Here’s my recipe as a guideline and I have a great outcome with my plants.
- 25% Worm Castings (nutrients and moisture retention)
- 25% Peat moss (moisture retention and very little nutrients over time)
- 25% Leaf/Hay litter (aeration and less soil compaction. Perlite but not organic)
- 25% Garden soil, Sand or both (or other type of filler, sand also helps for drainage depending on what you’re planting)
Mix all of these together then place it in your starter pots for your seeds or seedlings. When transplanting to the garden or landscape, you may add a little more of the mix since this will be the last time you will put it in with the roots. Every month apply a top dressing.
Worm castings as top dressing for garden and landscaping plants, house plants, lawns
Garden and Landscaping Plants
As I already mentioned, a top dressing is used in the maintenance and care of your plants. In gardens and landscapes, sprinkle it around the drip line of your plants working it into the dirt a little.
Don’t leave it just sitting on top of the soil not mixed in. When the cast is exposed and sits out to dry in clumps it can set up like a brick so it needs to be sprinkled like crumbs and mixed into the soil. You also don’t want the wind or rain to blow or wash it away as it can be very light when dry due to its spongy nature.
Apply the cast to your house plants in the first 1/4 to 1/3 inch of soil every 2 months or less as needed. Take soil out as needed to make room for the new cast. Be careful though not to let watering get away from you. Plants in pots that have good drainage can dry out quickly. If the contents dry out completely it can kill the beneficial microbes. If it remains at least moist, then the microbes will go into a stage of dormancy awaiting the breath life when you begin to water it again.
I advise always to water with worm tea or chemically-free water and NOT bottled or tap water. This contains chemicals like chlorine which is designed to kill ALL living organisms. If you must use tap water let it set out for a day or in the sun for about 4 hours before using it to allow the chemical to gas off.
This may actually take more worm castings then you care to part with if you have a large area to fulfill. That is another reason why I also recommend using the worm tea on lawns, but remember a little cast goes a long way. Be sure you’re not using large clumps of the cast or you will spread it too thin and run out quickly. Leave it out to dry somewhat till it will break down into smaller crumbles then sprinkle on the lawn liberally.
Go for coverage rather than thickness and apply once a month if you have enough. Water with worm tea using a shower watering bucket or hand pump sprayer. The benefits of worm tea is absolutely amazing. Let the rain take care of every thing else.