Worm Poo Is Good For Your Garden

Worm Poo Is Good For Your Garden

No gardener needs to be told how great it is to have worms in your garden soil. They aerate. They till. They fertilize. Plenty of other life forms do these same things (insects, chickens...), but somehow the earthworm is more praised by more gardeners as Garden Superheroes.


We may be smarter than we knew.

Worm activity in the soil--as measured in greenhouse situations where soil could be isolated into different control groups--improves plant production and disease resistance. You get a two-fer. The physical interaction of worms with soil is partly responsible for the improved soil texture, but most of the benefits to plants are the result of stuff going through the worm gut and coming out as...massively wonderful soil-building plant immune booster...poo!

In short, worm castings (the official term) will make your plants distasteful to pests like spider mites, mealy bugs and aphids, strong enough to face down assorted fungal organisms and it will greatly enhance the root development and production of your plants. Think of castings as nutritional supplements for your plants. Good worm castings are very neutral in terms of Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium, but they are loaded with micronutrients that better enable plants to make use of the soil assets around them, improving both their disease resistance and productivity.  Worm castings will not burn your plants. You can apply them directly to the soil of even your houseplants. Mixed in to garden beds in proportions of 10% or higher, you can help improve pest resistance in a totally organic manner. Not one drop of pesticide. Given the recent reductions in our pollinator populations, it is more than worth a shot.

You can encourage worms in your garden by mulching the soil around your plants, which provides earthworms with cover and higher soil moisture levels. You can also purchase worm castings from many sources on the Internet and probably your local garden shop, though not in the "big box" stores. Ask other gardeners in your area, as increased demand during the economic crunch by home gardeners has opened up this resource to new markets. Another way to approach this would be to purchase worm cocoons (eggs) to boost your own population of poo-manufacturers. Cocoons are more expensive than castings, but if you have really poor soil and are willing to add organic matter (sheep manure is supposed to make worms ecstatic) along with the cocoons, it may be worth it. Don't add cocoons if you can't add organic matter at the same time, since it is counter-productive to starve your new tenants!

Now. During my research for this blog, I found some references to ponzi-type schemes in the whole worm-farming biz. Don't imagine that starting your own worm farm is an easy way to make a buck--it appears to be a bit more difficult than that! (Rodale)

Happy Gardening!


Sources:

USDA Agricultural Research Service
Plant Disease Journal
Happy D Ranch
Worm Cast Applications
Ohio State University  once, and again.
Effects of Vermicomposts on Plant Growth
Rampant Commercialism (Not What You Think)

Rampant Commercialism (Not What You Think)

Nobody Home but Us Wrens

Nobody Home but Us Wrens