Learn How to Use Worm Castings in 9 Ways

Worm castings contain beneficial plant nutrients that encourage growth. Finding out how to use worm castings is beneficial for all gardeners! You might be surprised to find out about the multiple benefits offered by worm castings and the multiple ways you can incorporate them into your garden.

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Via http://www.growearthly.com

What Are Worm Castings?

A fisherman holding a container of live nightcrawler earthworms for use as fishing bait.

Perhaps you’ve never heard of worm castings, and you are wondering what they are. Worm castings are a form of organic fertilizer produced from earthworms. The easiest way to think about worm castings is that they are earthworm waste. Basically, you are using worm poop!

Yes, it sounds disgusting, but they aren’t! Worm castings, known as vermicast, are created when earthworms eat through compost. Castings look like small, football-shaped particles. Despite the disgusting thought of using worm poop, the benefits outweigh any grossness. All forms of manure are beneficial!

Benefits of Worm Castings

The benefits of worm castings seem to be never-ending. When you apply them to your garden, you don’t have to worry that they will burn your plants. Worm castings are one of the few animal manures that can be applied fresh without concern. They are safe for your children and pets, containing no harmful toxins or chemicals.

+ Adds micronutrients and minerals to the soil

close up of hands holding soil on the balcony

You might be surprised to learn that worm castings contain over 60 micronutrients such as calcium, magnesium, phosphates, potash, and nitrogen.

Castings also contain manganese, copper, zinc, cobalt and more. These nutrients are available immediately to your plant as soon as you add the castings to the soil. You can feed a 6-inch potted plant for two months with only one tablespoon of worm castings!

+ Acts as a barrier if your soil pH levels are too high or too low

If your soil pH levels are imbalanced, it makes it difficult for plants to absorb the vital nutrients from the soil. Castings allow the plants to continue to take what they need by neutralizing soil and reducing acid-forming carbon.

+ Prevents plant diseases

The humus of worm castings fights off harmful toxins, bacteria, and fungi in the soil. Doing so also helps to prevent dangerous plant diseases that could damage or kill your plants.

+ Fixes heavy metals in organic waste

Worm castings help to prevent plants from absorbing too much of these chemical compounds. Heavy metals can be damaging to your plant’s health.

+ Repels whiteflies, aphids and other pests that like to snack on plants

Castings, applied to the soil, will increase a particular enzyme that actively works to defeat and prevent these insects from destroying your plants.

+ Helps to improve the soil structure and porosity

Worm castings create a better root environment and reduce the denseness of heavier soils.

+ Increases soil moisture retention and reduces erosion

When put into your soil, casting creates mineral clusters that withstand soil compaction and reduce water erosion. Your soil can hold more water, which means that you can water your garden less!

Where Can I Get Worm Castings?

The two common ways to get worm castings are to buy them or make some at home yourself. Many avid gardeners make their worm castings because they are an expensive item to purchase in the stores.

Making them at home is called vermicomposting, and it allows you to have a continuous supply of worm castings! However, purchasing them from your local nursery or online is one less thing you have to do.

Do They Stink?

Considering that worm castings are essentially worm poop, you probably are concerned that they stink. Worm castings are odorless. Yes, you read that correct! The only scent you will detect is a smell similar to soil or earth.

Many other organic fertilizers have an unpleasant scent. However, castings are produced by the bacteria inside of earthworms and become a natural fertilizer. So, just remember that your castings are deodorized and neutralized, with a pH level of 7.

9 Ways to Use Worm Castings in Your Garden

9 Ways to Use Worm Castings in Your Garden

You can find several ways to incorporate worm castings into your garden. No matter the application that you pick, your plants and soil reap the impressive benefits. Pick a few ways that will benefit your garden the most, whether it is a solid fertilizer or an addition to your seed starting mix.

1. Soil Conditioner

The purpose of a soil conditioner is to improve the texture and increase the nutrients available in the soil. Soil conditioners also increase water retention. Worm castings are fantastic for your soil! You can use them to prepare for the next growing season in the fall or prepare for the upcoming. Barren soil can grow the largest plants when fed large helpings of worm castings.

How to 

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    Spread one pound of worm castings per square feet for your entire garden bed, OR
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    Spread two to three inches of worm castings into your garden beds or pots.
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    Mix your soil and worm castings thoroughly with a rake or hoe.
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    Water thoroughly.
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    Let sit for a few days before planting or an entire season if you amend your soil in the fall. Time allows the nutrients to seep into the soil.

2. Solid Fertilizer

Gardeners love that you never have to worry about how much worm castings you add around your plants. It is usable on flowers, fruit-bearing plants, herbs and vegetable plants. There are several ways that you can use worm castings as a solid fertilizer.

Top Dressing – The easiest way is to use the worm castings as a top dressing. You might guess from the name, but this method is when you just add them to the top of the soil around your plant. You can do this with potted and garden plants.

How to 

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    Add ½ to one inch of worm castings around the stem of your plant.
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    Extend the worm castings two to three inches out away from the stem.
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    Make sure to water your plants deeply after applying the worm castings.

3. Side Dressings

If you want to use worm castings as a side dressing, there are several options. Using the side dressing method is ideal for those with a sandy soil or plants that are about to flower or fruit, to encourage a growth spurt!

How to 

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    Take a handful of worm castings and gently massage them into the soil surrounding your plant, OR
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    Dig a narrow furrow around your plant. Fill the furrow with worm castings and cover with soil.
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    Water thoroughly, no matter the method you select!

4. Liquid Fertilizer

Liquid fertilizers are easy to use. Compared to solid fertilizer, the liquid is often easier to prepare and apply. It is easier to get an even application. Also, the soil absorbs the nutrients from liquid fertilizer easier.

How to 

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    Mix one cup of worm castings with one gallon of water in a sealed container.
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    Allow this mixture to sit for one week before use. This mixture is a strong liquid fertilizer!

5. Potting Soil for Indoor Plants

Your houseplants can benefit from castings as well! There are two different methods you can try. You can first add worm castings to your pot or start off with worm castings in your potting soil! Check out the easy how-to steps.

How to 

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    One of the ideal methods is to apply worm castings to the first ¼ to 1/3 inch of soil.
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    Repeat this step every two months, removing soil as needed due to lack of wind and rain erosion.
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    OR, you can add worm castings to your potting soil mixture. By adding to the potting soil, the worm castings act as a plant nutrient for indoor and outdoor plants.
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    Add 15% of worm castings to 85% of a peat-based potting mixture. Research shows us that this mixture is ideal for the optimal growth of growing plants.

6. Worm Casting Tea

Don’t worry, you don’t have to drink worm casting tea. It is a delicious drink for your plants! The process is simple. Instead of soaking tea leaves in water, you steep worm castings.

How to 

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    Fill a cheesecloth with worm castings, creating a large tea bag to create the casting tea.
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    Then, put the filled cheesecloth into a five-gallon bucket of water.
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    Allow standing overnight or longer.
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    Remove the cheesecloth, squeezing to get out the excess water.
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    Use the worm casting tea to water your garden instead of regular water! Bottoms up!

7. Seed Germination

Another great way to use worm castings is to add them to your seed starting mix to encourage germination. Research shows us that seedlings, such as tomatoes and cabbages, emerge better with worm casting.

How to 

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    Make your seed starting mix by combining 1/3 worm castings, 1/3 coir (made from coconut husks), and 1/3 vermiculite, OR
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    Combine sand with 20 to 30 percent worm castings, OR
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    Add worm castings to store-bought seed starting mix. Combine two parts soil into one part worm castings.
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    Put the selected mixture in small seed cups or containers you desire to use.
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    Plant seeds and water well.

8. Flowering Plants

Worm castings help all plants, not just vegetables! Roses are particularly fond of castings, but perennials also love castings.

How to 

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    For roses, work three to four cups of worm castings into the soil around each bush, OR
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    You can also use the top dressing method listed above for roses.
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    For perennials, add one cup of castings around your plant and massage gently into the soil.
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    Repeat this step every four to six weeks for maximum benefits.

9. New And Established Lawns

If you want to give your lawn a boost, add some worm castings! New and established lawns benefit from them. Adding castings helps your lawn’s surface to filter between grass blades an and acts as compost. Your lawn will love the nutrients.

How to 

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    For new lawns, add one pound of castings per 10 square feet of lawn.
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    You can then mix in the water and grass seed. Apply worm castings first, don’t forget!
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    For new sod, apply a thin layer of castings underneath of the sod, typically ¼ inch.
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    For established lawns, spread one pound of castings per 10 square feet of lawn.

Now You Know How to Use Worm Castings

Now you know how to use worm castings in your garden and property. Worm castings benefit all plants, not just your flowers or vegetable garden. You can spread some around fruit-bearing plants and herbs.

Shrubs and trees soak up the nutrients just as easily. If you decide to pursue vermicomposting, you will have an endless supply of nutrient-dense worm castings that will help your garden thrive.

Are you surprised to see so many benefits and uses for worm castings? If you use worm castings regularly, let us know your favorite method!

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