Vermicompost as a Soil Amendment

Worm castings make an excellent addition to the soil in your garden beds

Photo: Tim Musson under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0

You may have heard that worm castings make an excellent addition to the soil in your garden beds. But what’s the scoop on worm poop?

It’s quite possible that up until you began gardening worms had a place right next to gopher guts on your love list—that is, yuck. I’d like to take just a moment to see if I can’t get you to rank the red wigglers a little higher.

Worm castings do amazing things for the soil (and plants) and are the top of the line as far as soil amendments go. They have five times the nitrogen potency of good topsoil; seven times the amount of potash; and one and a half times the calcium.

Vermicompost brings something extra to the soil

Traditional composting and vermicomposting both break down organic materials and provide a perfect plant product for the garden. But worms bring a little something extra to the table—significantly more beneficial micro-organisms, enzymes, humus, and plant stimulants than regular compost.

Castings offer these nutrients in a slow-release form, and they’re available for a longer period of time—”available” meaning that the casting nutrients are easily absorbed by plants because they’re water-soluble. Worm castings offer superior soil-binding and water-retaining abilities, as well as excellent aeration, porosity, and structural properties. All of these things greatly improve the texture of your soil also.

Of course, worms are present in traditional compost piles and help with the breakdown of organic matter—so you’re getting castings there too. But actual worm farming (vermicomposting) is done in a container suited that’s specifically for this purpose. Raising worms in their own closed system intensifies the end product, so you have a super-charged soil amendment in bulk.

Worm farming is the perfect solution for people who live in apartments or condominiums who would love to have a compost pile but don’t have the room. It’s a portable composting system that’s doable for anyone in any living situation. You keep the worms in a box-sized container or bin, which makes a large yard or garden area unnecessary. In fact, you can even keep a worm farm indoors.

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