What are Worm Castings?
Don’t know what worm castings are? Well you’re really missing out on adding many great benefits to supercharge your organic soil mixes. Worm Casting can be used in a multitude of ways to improve your cannabis potting mixes indoors or outdoors and your garden outdoors. Not adding worm castings to your cannabis garden could be costing you in quality, yield and health of your plants throughout their lives. Cannabis plants that have worm casting added with be greener, bigger and very pest resistant. Another great advantage is using them will allow you to use smaller pots for larger plants. Making them easier to move and work with of people that have issues with moving heavier objects, for growing. Below we will review some of the awesome benefits of using either store bought worm casting or your own home made worm castings.
Most people will buy their worm casting either from a company that runs a worm farm or from a gardening center. You can also buy worms yourself and start your own worm farm, creating your own worm castings. We will be writing and article soon on starting your very own worm farm. Homemade worm castings are by far the best casting you can use. Why is that, because they are fresh and you know what is in them, as you are the one that was adding the bedding and food for the worms. Buying them from a worm farm is the second best option they will most likely be healthy and full of life the only real downfall for this is that you don’t know what was used to feed the worm that created the castings you will be using. The third best option is to buy them from the local gardening shop or nursery. This is still a great option if you can’t acquire them from the first to sources however depending on how long they were in the bag they may not have as much life in them, also you once again can’t know for sure what was used to feed the worms. Different things are used to feed the worms to create the castings. These are broken into two categories, the first and main one being “bedding” and the second one being “food”. Bedding can be almost any organic sourced brown material, such as old newspapers, flyers, cardboard (all shredded or whole). Bedding is what the worms live in, however they also will eat their bedding as time goes on so more can be added. Most commercial worm farmers will use sawdust for bedding for their worm it is cheap is easy to source. As a home worm farmer one of the best bedding you can use for your worm is dried up leaves. Once the worm has fed on it, it make an excellent compost for your plants.
Next is the food source, for the home worm farmer any leftover food scrapes can be used. Melons, vegetables, banana peels all make excellent food for worms. Worms crawl through their bedding above eating their bedding and food to create worm castings. Most commercial worm farmers will use a commercial worm food to feed their worms in bulk. There will also be grit added to the worm bedding and food, the worms use the grit to grind up their food in their guts.
So what happens when the worms eat all these things? First of all they are processing the food in their guts, when this happens there are hundreds of beneficial things that happen in the bedding. Worm castings contains minerals such as concentrated nitrates, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus. Worm castings are also a 100% organic fertilizer that can increase a plant’s yield, protect both soil and plants from diseases, and help the soil retain moisture. The worms break down the food, many nutrients are added to the bedding from the browns and the food. Whatever nutrients are in the food scrapes will be broken down by the worms to be used again by the plants. Since things like bananas have lots of potassium in them once the worms have digested them and they have been broken down all that potassium will be added back to the worm casting, once they are added to your soil they will this beneficial potassium can be easily taken up by the plants and used for flowering. This is one of the great reasons for creating your own worm farm for castings. Anything that is added to your worm farming bin can be broken down by your worms this will create a very rich mix of humus that will help your plants thrive. In many worm bins you will have so much micro life that it will be moving around in the bin all this micro life works in conjunction with the worms helping to breakdown everything in the bin.
Supercharge your worm castings!
When we create worm castings we like to supercharge them by adding additional amendments to our worm casting bedding. We will start out with shredded cardboard and flyers as for our normal bedding, we then like to add some organic items to create even better end castings. Once we have our bedding ready we will use a tablespoon in each of our worm bins, ground oyster shells, kelp meal, insect frass, fish bone meal this will be mixed in with the worms bedding. We will then add a cup of alfalfa meal to the top of the bedding, it is important not to mix this into the bed as when it breaks down it will heat up and could get too hot for your worms as they live in this bedding. These bedding ingredients will either get broken down by the worms, or persist in the worm castings adding many nutrients, micronutrients to your castings. Some food that the worms can break down and with very much benefit your plants are things like bananas as mentioned above, watermelon, egg shells, cucumbers, green leaves, blueberries, potato peels, carrot peels, grapes, tomatoes, this is just a short list of the many things that the worms will eat and break down adding value to your worm castings.
How can you use your worm castings?
Worm casting are beneficial in a number of ways, first they are already completely composted so no need to do any composting before adding them to your soil mix. That being said you can even grow cannabis in straight worm castings although not recommended as they can be put to better use in a soil mix. Mixing your worm castings with your soil mix is a quick efficient way to improve nutrient retention, nutrient content, and humus content. We like to use about 35% castings in our soil mixes, however you can experiment and see what works best for you and your cannabis grow. They can also be used as an excellent mulch for your garden or garden pots, putting a 1 to 2 inch layer on top will leach the valuable nutrients in the casting down to your cannabis plant roots. Also adding a ton of beneficial micro life to the soil and get things going well from the very first day of your grow. During growing you can also use them as a top dressing much the same way as the mulch. Leave some extra space at the top of your pots and throw a handful of them in each week to supplement your alfalfa teas.
Worm castings really are one of the best things you can do for your cannabis plants, they really are good for your cannabis and the environment!