Worm compost is a natural fertilizer that has been used for centuries. It is made up of decomposed organic matter, such as leaves and kitchen scraps. Worm castings are rich in nutrients and can be compared to manure from other animals because they both produce nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. However, worm compost is better than different types of waste because it provides higher levels of beneficial microbes when added to soil or used as a mulch on plants.
The benefits of nitrogen for plants:
Nitrogen is an essential constituent of proteins, nucleic acids, chlorophyll, and vitamin B12.
Nitrogen is essential for plant health, so it can be used in soil to improve the structure and microbial activity and increase a plant's production capability. It also helps promote better root development and leafy tissue growth, which is vital for producing food.
Treating soils with a topical application of worm compost is also helpful because it increases the availability and uptake of phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and magnesium in plant roots.
The benefits of phosphorus for plants:
Phosphorus is another essential element for plants. A plant must grow and reproduce. Some plants need higher phosphorus levels than others, depending on the type of soil they are growing in.
For example, strawberries have high requirements for phosphorus because their roots cannot tolerate wet conditions and don't typically produce more extensive roots. Without enough access to phosphorus, strawberry plants will not be able to produce fruit.
The benefits of potassium for plants:
Potassium is another crucial element that serves an essential function in plant growth and development. Potassium is beneficial to the root system because it increases a nitrogen fixation process, which is when bacteria convert free atmospheric nitrogen into nitrates, making them available in the soil for use by plants.
Potassium is essential for the health of plants in many other ways, too. For example, it helps with stomata regulation by keeping them open wide and turgid (or thick), allowing plant cells to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while releasing water vapor back into it. This is especially true if you live in a hot, dry climate where plants are more prone to dehydration.
Potassium is also required for the production of chlorophyll (the green pigment in plant cells). It helps regulate photorespiration as well - a process that uses oxygen during photosynthesis instead of carbon dioxide.
The benefits of calcium for plants:
It is important to plant cell growth and development. Aids in the transfer of other minerals into cells for various purposes. It helps with muscle contractions needed for motion, especially when a plant grows larger or taller.
The benefits of magnesium for plants:
Magnesium plays an important role in plants by helping with electron transport, controlling the opening and closing of stomata on leaves, creating chlorophyll (the green pigment in plant cells), regulating carbohydrate breakdowns and syntheses.
Why compost is better than other animal manures:
Some of the reasons that compost is better than other animal manures are that it improves the soil and reduces our dependence on fertilizers.
Additionally, worm castings are a rich source of nitrogen and many other minerals and vitamins for plants that can grow both larger and healthier.
Worm compost is easier to use because you don't need much of it and can be applied to plants more often without the risk of scorching or burning them.
Worm compost is also a better source of nutrients for most gardeners because they don't have the time, resources, or money to buy all these different fertilizers themselves.
There are not many disadvantages to worm compost over other animal manure. However, it is not always easy to get enough worm castings for a whole garden since they can be expensive and difficult to find at some stores.
How do you use compost?
Using worm castings in your garden is quite simple and straightforward. All you need to do is get the worm compost and spread it around on top of your soil. The best time to do this is in late summer or early fall, just before winter when plants start to die back anyway.
Be sure not to use too much: a good rule of thumb is about two tablespoons per square foot for every application.
Why more gardeners have switched to worm castings over manure:
Many gardeners have discovered that worm castings are better than manure from other animals. The main reason is that it doesn't have the strong smell of ammonia like animal manures do and is rich in nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and calcium.
It also has a higher water holding capacity, so your plants will need less watering, which can help cut down on costs for gardeners!
The best use of worm castings is to mix with your topsoil or potting soil so that the nutrients are readily available for new plant growth. It also helps improve water retention in dry periods, which can be vital during drought conditions.
Worm composting is one of the most valuable and efficient ways to create rich soil for plant growth.
If you are looking to start a worm compost, it's essential to consider how much space is available (comparing the size of your urban or suburban property with the number of worms).
The best way to make sure your worms have enough food is by providing them with browns and greens. Brown materials can include things like leaves, straw, newspaper, and cardboard. Greens are most often defined as food scraps such as fruit or vegetable peels.
Worms prefer to be kept in temperatures that range between 45°-75°F with a humidity level of 50%. The best way is by using wet sponges so the worms can access water when needed.
Worms will reproduce quickly, so you don't have to worry about a shortage of these creatures.
When it comes to worm composting vs. other animal manure, Composting takes the win. There are just too many benefits that compost has over traditional manures, like discussed in the above article. Remember to always start with a healthy, moist environment for your worms, and they will do the rest of the work! Happy composting!