Worm castings are an extremely versatile organic fertilizer that provide numerous benefits to the soil and your plants. One of the many things that worm castings provide your garden is nitrogen.
The N-P-K ratio of fertilizers is a commonly used metric to compare one against the other. The N-P-K of pure earthworm castings is 1-0-0. That means 1% of the worm castings is nitrogen. While that might seem lower than other commercial fertilizers, it’s actually quite good for your garden and your plants.
Why does the nitrogen from worm castings work so well compared to some other forms of nitrogen?
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Not All Nitrogen Is the Same
When looking at the label of a fertilizer, you might think that all nitrogen is the same. Nitrogen is nitrogen right? When you look at a label and see that one fertilizer has 5-0-0 and the worm castings has 1-0-0, it means that the first one is better right? Not necessarily.
Nitrogen is added to many fertilizers in different formats. Some fertilizers have it naturally occurring, while others have it synthetically added. The nitrogen in worm castings is naturally occurring and it is water-soluble. This means that the nitrogen is easily absorbed by plants.
Many other fertilizers have nitrogen that is in a hard non-soluble format. This means that the plants can only absorb a small fraction of the nitrogen that’s in the product.
Some fertilizers have nitrogen that may not be absorbed until down the road. This means that initially, your plants don’t get much of a boost from the fertilizer that is supposedly high in nitrogen. Then later they absorb a little bit here and there.
If you want to give your plants a boost of nitrogen right away, worm castings is the way to go. They’ll be able to absorb and use all of the nitrogen in the worm castings and start growing.
Is Nitrogen the Most Important Stat?
Nitrogen is important to plant growth. However, is it the most important stat on the bag of fertilizer? Many growers and gardeners get so hung up on the nitrogen content of the product only that they ignore everything else.
While having a lot of nitrogen can be good, it’s not everything. In fact, if you get too much nitrogen in a product, you can actually burn your plants. So you can have too much of a good thing when it comes to nitrogen.
The other thing to think about is that the nitrogen is not the only thing that makes plants grow. Worm castings has something in it that a lot of other commercial fertilizers don’t: microbes. The beneficial microbes in worm castings are actually more powerful at making plants grow than nitrogen is.
On top of that, they’ll never burn or damage a plant. So by utilizing worm castings, you’re getting all the plant growth that you want with none of the risk of destroying your plants.
Additionally, worm castings has so many other good things in it besides nitrogen. You get trace amounts of phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, manganese, borax, calcium, and iron to name a few.
The microbial life also helps keep plant disease and root rot away from the plants. It also works like a natural pesticide by discouraging bugs that have exoskeletons from getting on the plants or around the area. Nitrogen alone doesn’t do all of that.
Bonus Benefits of Worm Castings
When you mix worm castings in with the soil, they also provide some additional bonus benefits that other fertilizers and soil supplements do not. The first benefit is assisting with aerating the soil.
If you look at an individual piece of worm casting up close, it looks like a tiny little football almost. If you hold a handful of worm castings and squeeze it really tight, it’s not going to pack together because of that structure. When you mix these tiny little pieces in with the dirt, it keeps the whole mixture from packing together and holding like some dirt can when pressure is applied.
This means that instead of a hard, packed down plot of land, your soil will be light and airy and perfect. Oxygen will be able to get down to the roots of your plant, so it can breathe and thrive.
The second bonus benefit that worm castings provide is water management. Although they won’t pack down, they will absorb and then release water. They can hold water for the perfect amount of time for your plants, making it so that you don’t have to water as often or worry about your plants getting enough water.
Overall, nitrogen is an important factor in choosing a soil supplement or fertilizer. However, it’s not the only factor involved in the decision. Worm castings has the right kind of nitrogen for your plants, as well as a host of other benefits.