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Worm Tea

Oh for the love of worms!
They aerate the soil and poop up some awesome goodness that plants love and gardeners appreciate.  I whip up some worm tea for a nutritious liquid fast feed.
How to Make Worm Tea
…like I do
Vermiculture: begins with the appreciation of working with worms who decompose your kitchen’s organic food waste and turn it into awesome nutrients for your crops. Worms are easy to work with, odorless, quiet, rebuild the soil, are sustainable, save water, energy & money because your food scraps are transformed into plant food so you don’t have to purchase any at the store. Less waste in the landfills too!

Worm Tea

How to Make Worm Tea

Utensils:

Food Safe Container – I use @ a 2.5 gallon beverage dispenser. I previously used a 5 gallon food grade bucket. Using the current beverage dispenser w/faucet is so user-friendly.
Aquarium Pump – I use a pump with a 5 – 15 Gallon Aerating Capability
Aquarium Air Tubing
Aquarium Air Stone
Worm Castings – I used the worm castings from the worm composter and the bottom tray. The bottom tray castings are extremely damp, damper than the compost found in finished trays.
1) First I scraped the worm compost particles that had collected in the bottom tray of my worm bin. I also use the worm fines from the upper trays.
I’m using the Worm Factory 360
2) Next I wrapped about 3 cups of the fines very securely in cheesecloth, now I use old nylon stockings because the fines don’t seep out as easily as when I used the cheesecloth leaving a long tail at the end of the knot to easily hang later.
3) Then I filled the food safe container with rain water.
4) I assembled a 5 to 15 gallon aquarium pump, aquarium air hose and air stone; submerged the air stone at the bottom and weighted it down with a rock.
5) I tied the long tail of the cheese cloth, nylon stocking the bucket handle and submerged the worm tea bag completely under water letting it dangle. I moved the air stone directly under the worm tea bag to allow direct air flow up and through the worm tea bag for maximum aeration.
6) Aerate the worm tea bag for at least 24 hours or even a little longer.
7) Funnel into watering cans & spray bottles.  Apply.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION:

Leachate: An unfinished liquid that accumulates in the bottom reservoir of the worm bin. Leachate should not be used as worm tea. It has substances which have not yet been properly broken down and can contaminate the surface of food crops and other plants. I use Leachate for direct, into-the-ground root feeding. This allows the Leachate to enter the earth, finish safely breaking down while feeding roots that I don’t plan to eat at the same time. I never use Leachate directly on plants.

Worm Tea:Nutritious, fast feeding sustainable, liquid plant food. Brewed from steeped worm fines aerated in liquid for at least 24 hours, preferably rain water.
Additives: Some worm tea brewers include additives to further enhance the final worm tea product. This is an ongoing study/controversy. Additives, even the organic kind, have been found to increase the harmful bacteria and so I avoid additives, even the organic ones.

Read more about the improper use of leachate as worm tea & the adverse effects of adding additives during worm tea brewing from the USDA.

Urban farming? How do you make Worm Tea?

Gnats In My Worm Bin

So I’ve been worm composting inside for a while now. I noticed that all the Red wigglers and I were happiest when I added a good balance of wet mushy left overs from the kitchen; topped with dry coffee grinds, toast crumbs, etc. topped with dead plant material mainly crushed, dried & crumbled plants from the previous year’s harvest and some of my unfortunate unattended to dead house plants.
Once I screwed up…things changed. Gnats; tiny little insects that enjoy laying larvae in damp compost loved the worm bin as much as the wigglers and I did.

Things were going well until several schedule changes in my personal life occurred. This created a domino effect on everything else that depended on me and my time. I rushed to feed the worms their sure-to-eat baby like wet and mushy worm food and ran out the door to work. I didn’t place the usual dry plant material on top of the damp food nor did I replace the newspaper on top.

Gnats welcomed this idea. They loved my schedule and moved right into the worm community. Each time I lifted the cover they’d fly out in adult form.

I learned that gnats love dampness and fungus. I realized that I cannot allow wet compost to rule the worm bin without topping it securely with the added dry plant mulch and newspaper.

It’s been pure hell trying to get rid of them but I did.

I got rid of the escapees by way of light. Flying gnats gathered on the window because it was the most lit area of the room at dusk. I’m a “sap” for living creatures. Even the annoying ones. I felt guilty but I also felt invaded & urgent. I decided to clean my window with window cleaner and wipe them and the window down with paper towel. I did this twice in one week while maintaining the dry plant material and newspaper to securely top off the worm community and have now rid them from my kitchen where my worm bin has been quiet and nonchalant since it arrived about a year ago.

So gnat’s in my worm bin have been one drawback so far to my worm composting experience. My solution wasn’t planned but it did work. However I’ll be hanging a sticky fly paper or two in the area just in case.

For even more worm composting tips and ideas to rid gnats from your worm bin check out this website. Red Worm Composting – Fungus Gnats in Worm Compost Bins It’s full of worm farming ideas, information & problem prevention techniques that may work for you.

I conclude that whatever type of compost method I choose there will always be some type of drawback. I certainly have experienced mine. Maybe scheduling a spin of the back porch tumbler that I chose not to use would have been easier. Still, I enjoy my wigglers and they do unite me every day with nature as I’m hustling out the door to catch that smoggy, crammed city bus. They provide a consistent amount of worm castings year round as well. Thank-you Red wigglers!

Do You Use Worms to Compost?

Vermiculture

What Is It?

Worm composting, or vermiculture is a quiet, nonchalant approach to composting on an urban farm!
Worm poop is a gardener’s best friend! Worm castings amend the soil and add nutrients at the same time. Use as a soil amendment and feeder. Make worm tea to use as a quick feed liquid fertilizer!
For centuries rural farmers used red worms to compost healthy materials for their gardens. Simple walls were constructed using almost any material to surround outdoor piles designated for compost adding eager red worms to eat the garbage to process into worm castings.
Today urban friendly, apartment sized, worm composters are being welcomed into the homes of city farmers everywhere. They are self sustaining, simple to maintain, odorless and dependable.