As a gardener, I know you’ve heard of using different animal manures or droppings in your compost to amend your soil. And as a landscape designer, I can tell you that my hands-down, all-time favorite source is the lowly worm. Worm castings, as they’re called, are to your soil and plants as kale is to our bodies — they’re a superfood that is nearly unrivaled.
Here’s why you want worm poop in your garden — the list is long, so pull up a chair and a cold beverage.
1. Worms eat organic materials, and as they digest them, the nutrients are refined to their most usable form with a neutral pH of 7.0.
2. They have beneficial microbes that help plants grow and fight pests and diseases.
3. Castings increase the soil’s ability to absorb moisture and help to prevent it from completely drying out.
4. Castings can remove heavy metals and other toxins from the soil.
5. They are 4%-5% higher in nitrogen than average soil, but because of the mucous that worms secrete as they digest their food, the nitrogen is released slowly into the garden. Meaning, the droppings won’t burn your plants.
6. They improve seed germination and growth.
7. And perhaps best of all, worm castings don’t smell like other droppings can. Like the scent of the forest floor? Castings are for you!
You can purchase worm castings in a bag, like our Gardner & Bloome Organics WORM-GRO Earthworm Castings, or you can try your hand at making your own castings at home. Start with a ready-made kit or gather your own supplies — it’s actually pretty easy. Get a bin, add bedding (shredded newspaper, coconut fiber, straw, or wood chips), then add kitchen scraps like fruit and veggie peelings, grains, coffee grounds, bread, and cereals. Avoid meat products, dairy products, and oils.
Now add your worms — you’ll need a pound of worms per pound of organic material, so you’ll want to make sure your bin is large enough from the beginning. The best type of worms to use is the red wiggler, and they’re available to order online. Follow the directions that come with your kit or those you are using from an online source — just be sure you don’t let your worms run out of kitchen scraps and organic material. After a couple of months, you’ll be able to harvest your own small amount of worm castings to use in your houseplants or patio container plants. Superfood for your plants, straight from your kitchen worm bin!