If you like to garden, you already know the importance of making sure that your plants have the right nutrients to help them thrive. While fertilizers and organic compost can definitely help enrich the soil that you are using to grow your plants in, there are those times when you want to make sure that your plants and trees are able to get the nutrients they need without delay. Fortunately, the application of an easy to make worm tea can provide the necessary nutrients much faster than the use of solid materials on their own. This fast-acting nutrient delivery method is where worm tea can certainly come in handy, especially if you notice signs of distress in your plants.
Vermicomposting or Worm Castings
Most people have heard of composting; in fact, many people have their own backyard compost pile to use in gardens, flower beds, or landscaping. At its core, composting is nothing more than the process of allowing organic materials, such as food scraps like tea bags, nut shells, fruit and vegetable peels, eggshells, and coffee grounds, as well as plant and grass clippings, manure, and other materials, to breakdown and decompose.
Vermicomposting is similar to other composting. It is simply the process of decomposing these organic materials by using worms of various species, typically nightcrawlers and red wigglers. The compost is created when the food scraps and organic materials are eaten by the worms in the compost pile. Once eaten by the worms, these organic materials pass through their bodies and are excreted through the tail end of the worms as a type of compost. This method of composting is known as vermicomposting or worm castings and the final product is loaded with important nutrients that can help your plants grow and thrive.
What is Worm Tea?
Worm tea is basically a tea made from the compost that has been derived from worms. Worm tea is nothing more than the end product of steeping the worm castings or vermicomposting in some water. This worm tea can then be added to trees and plants, boosting the microbiological activity in the soil. While the compost or vermicompost could be added directly to the soil, the use of a worm tea provides for faster delivery of important nutrients, something that can be helpful during certain periods of a plant’s growth.
How to Make Worm Tea for Your Garden
Once you have your vermicompost ready, making a nutrient-rich worm tea should be a fairly simple process. Just like making a cup of tea for yourself by steeping tea leaves in some water, the worm tea will be made by steeping the worm castings or vermicompost in water. The first thing you’re going to need to find is a way to infuse some water with the worm castings. You can use just about any bucket you have on hand and fill it with some clean water; then all you’ll need to do is add the vermicompost and giving it a little stir. However, adding the vermicompost directly to the water can get a little messy, so it is usually recommended that you use some type of bag to hold the vermicompost while it’s steeping in the water. This will make it very easy to remove the solid material when the tea is ready to be used. You can make a bag from an old pair of pantyhose, a tee-shirt, shade cloth or just about any other type of material that can easily be permeated by the water. The idea is to allow the worm castings to be able to steep in the water and release their beneficial nutrients without leaving organic material floating in the water.
Don’t overlook the importance of the water you use for your worm tea. It’s best to use rainwater or filtered water; you can also use tap water, but be sure you let it sit for at least 24 hours in order to allow any chlorine in the water to dissipate. When you have your water and bag, you’re ready to make worm tea. Simply place the vermicompost in your net bag and place the bag in the bucket with the water. Cover the bucket and let the mixture steep overnight. In the morning, you can easily lift the compost bag out of the water, and you’ll be left with worm tea that’s ready to use for your gardening and landscaping needs.