Monday, May 12, 2014
Understanding how to use your worm composter
It is important to make sure you understand how it all works. You'll read lots of information seeming to contradict themselves, but keep to these facts and it will help.
One reason there are contradictions is there are no control factors enforced on how worm tea is produced and how it is labeled.
The Leachate that comes out of the tap on the bottom of your composter is not compost or worm tea. It is drainage from the bins. This has proven to be a great fertilizer for some people, then, other times it can actually harm plants...why? Because the extract from the worms "gut" is what we are looking for to have the micro biology of aerobic organisms that we want. However, if you put raw vegetables in whole, those vegetables will be full of liquid, rotting, and discharging a fluid full of anaerobic bacteria whose function is to break down plant cellulose > that isn't what we want on living plants.
So we have people grinding their vegetables up, putting them in with lots of paper products, which the worms consume quickly, not allowing the drainage of decaying plants in the basin, who say the leachate fertilizer is great...it's actually from the worm extract, so they are right. Then we have people who put in whole rotting vegetables, who get the anaerobic drainage, that actually can harm living plants.
So how do we tell the difference? Well smell actually is the best way, if it's earthy smelling then it's probably from the worms, if it's foul smelling, it's full of anaerobic bacteria. Many people use this method, but still, I recommend pouring the leachate onto the compost pile, and let it do it's job one way or the other.
Worm tea is the powerful stuff we put on our raised garden beds to replenish the mycorrhiza to produce great healthy food. This is from the actual worm castings in the worm bin. This is done by putting the fresh castings in a tea like bag, putting an air pump (like from a fish tank) in and farming off the good stuff into a liquid we can put on the garden. This must be done in a short period of time, in order to get the aerobic affect before the anaerobic takes over. See details.
I hope it doesn't seem to complicated, it really isn't once you've done it. And the results are amazing.
It's simply having the knowledge that takes a few hours to learn, that makes all the difference in success or failure.