What are worm castings and why are they important? Let’s start with a definition. Worm castings are simply undigested material, soil and bacteria deposited by a worm. There’s even a word for it: vermicompost. Vericompost means organic material that has been composted by worms. In other words, worm manure.
Why are worm castings important for the home gardener? For one, they are biologically safe, contain no pathogens and are an excellent alternative to chemical fertilizers. For another, they can increase your garden’s yield by as much as 25%. Most important, perhaps, is that worm castings supply enzymes necessary to sustain healthy gardens.
Edward Howell writes in Enzyme Nutrition (1985) that, “Scientists are now measuring the value of a soil by the amount of enzymes it contains. These enzyme values have a direct relationship to the quality of our nutrition and health. It is known that the operation of microorganisms in the soil is very important to the growth of plants. The world is commencing to awaken to the importance of enzymes in the life of the soil, that is to say, the biological activity of the soil. A plant, like an animal, needs enzymes to prosper.”
Some of the most common castings are produced by meal worms, white worms and red wigglers. The castings may seem expensive at first but know that what you purchase is a very concentrated fertilizer. A little goes a long way. Robin and I use them as a top dressing for our tomatoes and pepper plants and are very pleased with the results.
To buy worm castings, ask for them at your local nursery. You can also find a number of online vendors by using the search words “Worm Castings Organic”. Here’s hoping your fall/winter garden is healthy and bountiful!