What makes worm castings the perfect plant food?
The answer lies in the worm itself – quite literally. As worms digest organic materials, they refine them. Nutrients and trace elements are broken down to their most usable forms that are readily available to a plant. A teaspoon of soil contains more living organisms than there are people on Earth.
Worm castings contain 50% more humus than regular topsoil. What the heck is humus? Humus, which literally means “earth” and “ground” in Latin, is made from decomposed plants and other organic materials. Because of its high ratio in organic compounds, humus is also very rich in microorganisms which help plants to absorb nutrients. This makes humus a great solution for soil fertility.
Think of worm castings as a probiotic for your soil. Just like your digestive system, an earthworm’s digestive system contains a wide variety of microorganisms, enzymes, and hormones. All of these substances aid in the breakdown of the organic matter as it passes through the worm’s gut. As the final product leaves the worm’s body, so do thousands of different microbes that get passed into the soil. Worm castings are also high in nutrient content, as well as important trace elements that your plants crave. They have about 7 times the amount of nitrogen and five times phosphorus and potassium than regular topsoil.
Worm castings hold about 3 times their weight in water. This moisture retention helps to ensure your plants stay hydrated, even in times of drought.
The humus in the worm castings extracts toxins and harmful fungi and bacteria from the soil. Worm Castings therefore have the ability to fight off plant diseases.
They contain high levels of chitinase – a natural insect repellent. This enzyme helps dissolve chitin, the substance that comprises the exo-skeletons of most insects. When used properly, worm castings help to repel chewing and sucking insects like aphids, whiteflies, and hard-shelled plant bugs. If an insect feeds on the leaves of a plant that has absorbed the chitinase, its stomach will soon begin to dissolve, and death will come quickly.
One of the most important functions of worm castings is that it makes the soil more porous, improving soil aeration, infiltration and drainage.
If your soil isn’t exactly where it needs to be, worm castings can aid in stabilizing its pH level.