Good garden soil clumps together loosely, with good drainage and plenty of organic matter that provides plant nutrients. The addition of worms can improve soil conditions by aerating it and making it easier for plants to extend their root systems, and by consuming organic matter and converting it into worm castings with nutrients that are then available to plants. Vermiculture, or worm composting, also produces nutrient-rich worm castings, which are a rich organic fertilizer.
Types of Worms
Two types of worms may be used in organic growing: Earthworms burrow deep into the soil and red wigglers consume organic matter at a faster rate than earthworms and live closer to the surface. Earthworms are best to be added to your garden, and red wigglers are better for composting. Earthworms can usually be found close to the surface after a rain and are fairly easy to collect. Red wigglers love to eat wet cardboard and can be found by simply lifting a piece that has been left on top of the soil overnight.
Benefits of Worms
The presence of worms indicates a good, healthy soil. Earthworms burrow into your garden soil and aerate it, loosening compact soil so that plants develop strong, healthy root systems. Worms also consume organic matter in the soil and turn it into worm castings, which are a nutrient-rich organic fertilizer that plants are able to absorb and utilize easily.
Benefits of Vermiculture
Worm composting can be used as a soil amendment that improves soil texture and moisture retaining capabilities. Vermiculture can also be added as a fertilizer application to replace soil nutrients that have been exhausted, increase disease resistance in plants, increase vegetable and fruit harvest and produce bigger, more abundant blooms on flowering plants.
Making Worm Compost
Worm compost puts off no unpleasant odors and can be made in containers kept right in your kitchen or any out of the way area within your home. All that is required is a ventilated container with drainage holes, a tray to catch the drainage, shredded paper or cardboard, a small amount of soil, kitchen scraps and worms. Contents should be kept moist, but not soggy. It takes about two months for worms to convert container contents into castings.
Worm Compost Tea
Worm compost tea is a liquid fertilizer that is high in nitrogen and phosphates. Worm teas create a greater diversity of beneficial micro-organisms and less harmful ones than compost teas that are made from traditional compost methods. Worm compost tea can be made by steeping finished worm compost in water for several days and stirring occasionally to provide aeration. The tea can be applied as a fertilizer application to the soil or as a foliar spray for immediate use of nutrients by plants.