Monday, May 31, 2010

Use Worm Tea For Big Healthy Plants

I have read many articles promoting the use of Vermicompost Tea or Worm Tea on plants and seedlings but up until recently I had not used it myself. This is the second season that I have been using vermicompost in my garden and the results last year were amazing so it was obvious to me that I would be using it again… and since we have so much of the stuff it is rather convenient. My green beans were so healthy last season I was picking beans all the way into November/December when we finally had our first freeze. However it wasn’t until my coworker Matt took home a bag of our fine grade castings to help out his struggling seedlings did I get a firsthand account of how quickly worm tea can work on your plants. Here is his email to me:

Dear Kate,
I'm so glad I bought some worm castings from you. My vegetable starts were looking really bad. They were really starting to yellow and I thought my squash starts were getting powdery mildew already. Well I made up a couple batches of worm casting tea and sprayed my plants down pretty heavily for a couple days and my plants came back from the brink of death and within a week had new leaves forming. Yay! I also used the tea after I transplanted my pole bean starts into my garden. They did not fare well after I moved them but a couple doses of worm casting tea and they bounced right back. I've used other organic fertilizers before and they work well enough but not as quickly as the worm tea does. I saw results within a couple days on some pretty sad looking plants. I'll definitely be getting more casting from you.

This season I wanted to sprout my own plants with vermicompost but I couldn’t find seeds for the yellow squash variety I wanted so I decided to just buy some plants. Once I had my plants home I decided to plant the garden and the difference between the growth rates in the plants germinated with vermicompost vs. the store bought plants is so obvious this picture says it all.

The zucchini on the left was planted the same week I bought the yellow squash on the right. The zucchini is greener and so much bigger despite being weeks younger. No more pony packs for me, there is obviously no comparison.

So now I have this big happy zucchini and this struggling yellow squash. I did give it some vermicompost when it was planted but it clearly needed more help.

I decided to brew some Worm Tea and see if I could get these guys growing. I sent my husband to the pet store for an aquarium pump, an air stone and some tubing so for less than $15 I have a worm tea brewer.

I filled a 5-gallon bucket with 2 gallons of water and put ½ cup vermicompost in an old nylon and started bubbling the mixture. My friend Matt just pours the vermicompost in the water but I was planning on using my sprayer (not a watering can) to apply the worm tea so I didn’t want to clog it with any undissolved vermicompost. I let it bubble overnight, about 10 hours, stirring it occasionally. Then on May 16, 2010 I sprayed it on my plants.

I started with some very unhappy strawberries plants that were given to me by a neighbor. I was pretty sure that half of them were going to die so in my mind giving them some Worm Tea was just a courtesy prior to putting them in the compost pile. Then I did the garden plants… I sprayed all the leaves as well as putting a little on the root area.

Fast forward two weeks and the difference in the plant health is obvious. My strawberries have tons of new growth and my yellow squash is almost bushy. I have committed to using worm tea every two weeks to keep these guys on the fast track to huge growth.

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Brenda says...

Worm Fancy is the greatest place to get your worms in the Sacramento area. They have the best customer service!

Doug and Tammy, Yuba City

Tammy and I would just like to thank you for your professionalism and patience in answering all our questions about vermiculture. We are very interested in the difference it will make in our garden this year. Even our son will be using the new Worm Factory 360 in his science fair project that compares plants with and without worm castings. We're already noticing the better health with it. Our time with you was pleasant and we will be sure to return! Thank you again and we'll keep you posted. composted. :D

Scott R. from Sacramento

I picked my worms today and it sure looks like a lot more than 2 pounds worth. I ordered a pound from another vendor and you gave me 5 times more than they did.