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Worm Tea: The Secret to Organic Gardening

By Jeff Walters | Last updated: April 23, 2021
Key Takeaways

Many gardeners already know the not-so-secret advantages of using worm tea to fertilize their gardens, but not all are aware of the various methods of maximizing its benefits. Jeffrey Walters explains the difference between those methods and the ones that may work best for you.

There are thousands of different species of worms throughout the world. However, if you are using a worm compost system or purchasing a starter kit, you’ll want to stick with some of the more active species. Some companies offer starter kits that employ the use of Red Wigglers since they are the most productive. Worm castings can also be purchased from major supplies.

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The word ‘vermisoil’ has been used to describe the digestive remains that worms have composted via their digestive tracks. They eat decayed organic matter and dirt while at the same time pushing it through their digestive track and the remains are casted out forming worm castings. This type of by-product is one of the most nutrient rich forms of soil that can be used in so many different ways. However, this article will focus on the tea that can be brewed to help feed your garden.

When you mention the word ‘tea’ you most likely think of a hot cup of tea brewing on the stove top. That is not the case here even though you are still brewing. You can purchase pre-made teas, worm castings and other supplies at your local hydroponic or garden center or just brew some up yourself.

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Read also: Vermicompost: Micronutrient Rich Fertilizer From Worms

To do this, simply grab an old sock or other porous fabric and add one full cup of worm castings and tie it up in a knot. Suspend this in a five-gallon bucket three-quarters filled with clean, cool water. Reverse osmosis works the best and eliminates the chemicals found in tap water.

Drop in an aquarium air stone and cover it up, then let it brew for 24 hours. It is important that not only the water becomes aerated, but the surface tension of the water is disrupted as well.

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This gives more CO2 into the solution and increases the benefits, so a good air source is required. Think of blowing through a straw into your drink cup and watch all the bubbles that are forced into the liquid as that is what you want to achieve.

This may sound simple and to some it really is. However, since you will be rehydrating so many different soil boosters you have to use the brewed results right away or store for a short time in a refrigerated container.

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Like so many other nutrients out on the market today, the teas do offer a rather aromatic odor after a short period of time. Also, the brewed tea can ferment and start forming alcohols and phenols that can be harmful to plants, so be sure to use it as quickly as possible after brewing.

Read also: Recipes for Success: Building Your Own Organic Potting Soil

Tea from the tap is another method that comes from cultivating your own worms in a worm compost bin. The worms not only do their thing, they will also excrete a liquid which will travel to the bottom and can be drained out.

This liquid is called leachate and is prone to have problems simply because it has not been brewed from worm castings and may contain other organisms and pathogens that may not be garden- or plant-friendly. So avoid this method due to the possibility of possible problems arising.

Worm teas can be brewed strong or weak depending on your garden’s needs, the type of plants you plan to cultivate and desired results.

Worm teas provide the ability to increase microbiological activity which is the building block for your soil in a chemical free environment.

Worm teas provide bacteria, fungi, actinomycetes and a host of other good things. However, you don’t have to be a scholar or a trained botanist to understand all of this. Below is a small list and the percentages of the nutrients found in worm casting tea.

  • Organic Carbon 20-30%
  • Nitrogen 1.8-2%
  • Phosphorus 1.2-1.9%
  • Potassium 1.2-1.5%
  • Nitrogen Carbon 14-15%
  • Calcium 3-4.5%
  • Magnesium 0.4-0.7%
  • Sodium .02-.03%
  • Sulphur 0.40%
  • Iron 0.3%
  • Zinc 0.025%
  • Copper 0.0032%
  • Boron 0.0032%
  • Alumynium Traces 0.070%

N-P-K nutrient values are not important in worm casting teas. These measurements are mainly for the commercial nutrients found throughout the gardening community.

Read also: Bone Meal Basics: What You Need to Know Before Applying It to Your Plants

With worm casting tea these values and more are in the brewed tea and are released and absorbed by the plants root structure as needed.

So, start brewing to become truly organic in nature and enjoy your garden more than ever before!

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Written by Jeff Walters

Profile Picture of Jeff Walters
Jeff Walters is a former marine who spends most of his time outdoors fishing, hiking, hunting and gardening. He is a self-educated former martial arts instructor, published author, hot rod enthusiast and co-founder of many outdoor-related websites. His current focus in on green energy and learning how to live a sustainable lifestyle.

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