Worm castings are becoming popular to use as a soil additive or fertilizer for gardens, yards, potted plants and more. Despite being more commonly used, many people are still unsure of what it is or how it works. Is it a supplement? Is it a complete fertilizer?
Can Be Used Alone
One thing to consider in regards to worm castings use is that it can be used completely alone when growing plants. You could grow a plant directly in worm castings and experience great results. With that being said, most people prefer to mix it in with something else like compost or dirt.
Even if you mix it in with compost or dirt, the worm castings is the thing that’s supplying all the nutrients, minerals and other good stuff to the plants. This means that you can use it as your only source of fertilizer and have amazing results. Not everyone who uses worm castings does this.
Some people prefer to mix it in with other things like coco coir, azomite, perlite and vermiculite. That’s perfectly normal and fine to do. You just don’t have to.
When looking at worm castings, some people think “Well this N-P-K ratio is 1-0-0. That means I need to add something with a lot of nitrogen and something with phosphorus and potassium or it’s not going to work.” At first glance, this line of reasoning makes sense. However, in reality, it doesn’t stack up.
N-P-K ratio is not the most important factor when it comes to growing plants. If you don’t believe me, just do a test for yourself. Put Simple Grow Worm Castings in your soil with a plant. Put another pot beside it, using the same plant and a commercial fertilizer with a high N-P-K ratio. See what happens.
Most of the time, the worm castings will far outperform the other fertilizer. Worst case scenario, they both grow really well. With worm castings though, you don’t have any of the chemicals or pesticides mixed in like you do with some fertilizers. So why does worm castings work so well then?
The primary reason that good worm castings work so well at growing plants is because they’re teaming with beneficial microbial life. Thousands of tiny microbes come out of the worm's digestive tract and stay inside the castings. Those microbes then make their way into the soil and onto the seeds or plants.
These microbes create the absolute perfect growing environment for plants. Microbial life is an often overlooked part of the growing process, which is why many people focus only on the N-P-K ratio of a fertilizer. In reality, when you have powerful microbes on your side, you’ve got enough to grow amazing plants.
Nutrients and Minerals
Premium worm castings also have several nutrients and trace minerals built right in. You’ll get some nitrogen, some phosphorus, some potassium, magnesium, and calcium. You’ll also find trace amounts of manganese, zinc, copper, iron, carbon, and cobalt. It’s like a powerful multivitamin that you give your plants.
When compared to some other types of fertilizer, worm castings give you a few more benefits that you won’t get from the others. For starters, you get the added benefit of soil aeration. When you mix in worm castings at the time you plant, it’s like putting little aeration helpers all throughout the dirt.
The physical structure of worm castings is like a dense little football. Because of the shape and texture, you can’t really pack down soil that has a good concentration of worm castings in it. This means that oxygen should be able to make its way through the soil and find the roots of the plant. Oxygen getting to the plants is key in helping them grow.
Another added benefit of using worm castings as your fertilizer is that it helps retain and regulate moisture that makes its way into the soil. The worm castings will absorb water and then release it at just the perfect time it's needed by the plant.
This makes it so that if you forget to water once in a while, your plant will still be alright. It’s like having a backup plan in case you forget to water. On a large scale, it can also make it so that you use a lot less water overall.
When you get more oxygen and the perfect amount of water to the roots of your plant, you give your plants a much better chance of thriving. Regular fertilizer doesn’t do either of those things.
Is it Complete?
I would argue that pure earthworm castings are a complete fertilizer. While it may not have the “ideal” N-P-K ratio, it more than makes up for that in other areas. Plus you get several things that you won’t find anywhere else.
If you don’t believe me, try out a bag for yourself and see if you like the results. Most people who try worm castings never stop using it. They just keep buying it year after year, because of the fantastic growing results that they see with their own eyes.