Garden Basics with Farmer Fred

Using Worm Castings in the Garden

July 24, 2020 Fred Hoffman Episode 31
Garden Basics with Farmer Fred
Using Worm Castings in the Garden
Chapters
00:02:04
Amy Stewart, "The Earth Moved"
00:14:53
Vermicomposting Tips from the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center
00:24:35
Giselle Schoniger: the benefits of using worm castings.
Garden Basics with Farmer Fred
Using Worm Castings in the Garden
Jul 24, 2020 Episode 31
Fred Hoffman

If you’ve ever talked with a gardener who uses the excrement of worms around their plants, you may be familiar with their wide eyed look of rapture talking about all the benefits of using, to put it more politely and accurately, worm castings. Today, we will dig deep into the Farmer Fred audio archives to hear gardeners sing the praises of raising worms, and using their output, if you will, in the garden, a practice known as vermicomposting.
Members of the worm castings choir chime in with their high praise for the lowly worm: from 2004, best selling author Amy Stewart, author of the book, "The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms"; from 2017, Sacramento County Master Gardener and vermicomposting specialist Susan Muckey discusses the worm bins at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center; and in a recent conversation, organic educator Giselle Schoniger, who works for a company, Kellogg Garden Products, that sells worm castings. Shall we go play with the worms? Let’s fill your worm bin. And, we’ll do it all in under 30 minutes. Let’s go.

More info about vermicomposting.
The book, "Worms Eat My Garbage", by Mary Applehof.
Ants in Your Worm Bin? A Solution.

More episodes and info including live links, product information, transcripts, and chapters available a the home site for Garden Basics with Farmer Fred  https://www.buzzsprout.com/1004629.

Garden Basics comes out every Tuesday and Friday. It's available wherever podcasts are found. Please subscribe and leave a comment or rating at Apple Podcasts or Stitcher.

Got a garden question? Call and leave a question, or text us the question: 916-292-8964. E-mail: [email protected] or, leave a question at the Facebook, Twitter or Instagram locations below. Be sure to tell us where you are when you leave a question, because all gardening is local.

All About Farmer Fred:
Farmer Fred website: http://farmerfred.com
Daily Garden tips and snark on Twitter
The Farmer Fred Rant! Blog
Facebook:  "Get Growing with Farmer Fred"
Instagram: farmerfredhoffman
Farmer Fred Garden Videos on YouTube

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

If you’ve ever talked with a gardener who uses the excrement of worms around their plants, you may be familiar with their wide eyed look of rapture talking about all the benefits of using, to put it more politely and accurately, worm castings. Today, we will dig deep into the Farmer Fred audio archives to hear gardeners sing the praises of raising worms, and using their output, if you will, in the garden, a practice known as vermicomposting.
Members of the worm castings choir chime in with their high praise for the lowly worm: from 2004, best selling author Amy Stewart, author of the book, "The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms"; from 2017, Sacramento County Master Gardener and vermicomposting specialist Susan Muckey discusses the worm bins at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center; and in a recent conversation, organic educator Giselle Schoniger, who works for a company, Kellogg Garden Products, that sells worm castings. Shall we go play with the worms? Let’s fill your worm bin. And, we’ll do it all in under 30 minutes. Let’s go.

More info about vermicomposting.
The book, "Worms Eat My Garbage", by Mary Applehof.
Ants in Your Worm Bin? A Solution.

More episodes and info including live links, product information, transcripts, and chapters available a the home site for Garden Basics with Farmer Fred  https://www.buzzsprout.com/1004629.

Garden Basics comes out every Tuesday and Friday. It's available wherever podcasts are found. Please subscribe and leave a comment or rating at Apple Podcasts or Stitcher.

Got a garden question? Call and leave a question, or text us the question: 916-292-8964. E-mail: [email protected] or, leave a question at the Facebook, Twitter or Instagram locations below. Be sure to tell us where you are when you leave a question, because all gardening is local.

All About Farmer Fred:
Farmer Fred website: http://farmerfred.com
Daily Garden tips and snark on Twitter
The Farmer Fred Rant! Blog
Facebook:  "Get Growing with Farmer Fred"
Instagram: farmerfredhoffman
Farmer Fred Garden Videos on YouTube

Farmer Fred :

Welcome to the Garden Basics with Farmer Fred podcast. If you're just a beginning gardener or you want good gardening information well you've come to the right spot. If you've ever talked with a gardener who uses the excrement of worms around their plants, well, you might just be familiar with their wide eyed look of rapture talking about all the benefits of using, well, to put it more politely and accurately, worm castings. Today we will dig deep into the Farmer Fred audio archives to hear gardeners sing the praises of raising worms and using their output if you will, in the garden, a practice known as vermicomposting. Now you may remember back on episode 19 of the garden basics podcast we talked with soils expert, Steve Zien, and back then he got kind of carried away talking about his fondness for worms and worm castings:

Steve Zien :

"And those are my pets right now. We used to have cats but We've got worms. They're actually sitting about three feet behind me. I'm sitting here in my office and they make excellent compost and the the real advantage of this material is the biological content the numbers of organisms in this material is much, much, much greater than conventional compost."

Farmer Fred :

You can hear that entire conversation about worm bin basics back in Episode 19, which was released on June the 12th. But today, the other members of the worm castings choir chime in with their high praise for the lowly worm from way back when, 2004, we talked with best selling author Amy Stewart. From 2017, Sacramento County master gardener and vermicomposting specialist Susan Muckey, and just recently, organic educator Giselle Schoniger who works for a company, Kellogg garden products, who just happens to be selling worm castings. Shall we go play with the worms? Let's do it. And we'll do it all in under 30 minutes, let's go. Leading off will be a chat with a New York Times bestselling author who, in their past, was a noted garden writer, but is now more famous for her series of books about the Kopp sisters, which are based on the true story of one of America's first female Deputy Sheriffs and her two rambunctious sisters. The books are in development for a TV series. We're talking about Amy Stewart, who gardeners may fondly remember as the author of several horticultural bestsellers, including the Drunken Botanist, Wicked Plants, Flower Confidential and many more, including one of her earliest efforts, The Earth Moved, published back in 2004. It's a book about worms and raising worms and using worm castings. Now, a couple of warnings: back when this was recorded, I still had hair and Amy Stewart lived in Eureka California. Neither is no longer true. She's now in Portland. And I now always wear a hat. But despite its age, it's good information delivered by a person who's obviously knowledgeable and enthused on the subject of worms. So let's go up to drizzly Eureka, California where old Volkswagen vans go to rust away. Today we're in Humboldt County in Eureka. Hi, everybody, it's farmer Fred, Fred Hoffman. And you know what worms can do for your garden. They can do amazing things. I'm here with a worm raising garden columnist. And all around good gardener, Amy Stewart. And she has just come out with an excellent book about worms.

Amy Stewart :

It's the earth moved: on the remarkable achievement of earthworms.

Farmer Fred :

And it isn't just a how-to book of how to have worms in your garden and how to raise them and harvest what they make. But it's also an interesting sort of history of worms and how they got here and the good guys and maybe even the bad guys of worms and why don't we get that out of the way first, you have actually done some research and found that in some areas of the country worms can be a pest.

Amy Stewart :

Yeah, that's true. Minnesota is a really good example of that. What I found I traveled to Minnesota and talked with some forest ecologists there who have noticed that non-native worms like nightcrawlers, and red wigglers come into the forest and chew up the duff layer, you know, that kind of spongy layer, where seeds germinate and where plants really start to grow right on the surface. And they just consume that entire duff layer, they can eat the leaf fall of a forest every year, and it changes the composition of the forest floor and changes what plants can grow there.

Farmer Fred :

I would think the understory would be the first thing to go

Amy Stewart :

Exactly. understory plants and baby seedlings and even here in Humboldt County. You know, we're standing right here in my backyard, which was probably a redwood forest at one time, right? native earthworms native California worms probably aren't to be found in this backyard. But I do dig up lots of European worms.

Farmer Fred :

Where are native earthworms found in California? everywhere or just specific spots these days?

Amy Stewart :

Well, they're only going to be found in areas that have been left completely undisturbed. So, parks and in any place where we've built neighborhoods, you're probably not going to find native earthworms. The other thing is, we don't really know a lot about Native earthworms in California because believe it or not, there's not a lot of people out there digging them up and studying earthworms, but definitely, probably not in your own backyard. The worms in your backyard are probably European worms.

Farmer Fred :

And they got here I would imagine, via the settlers who came in,

Amy Stewart :

that's right in the roots of potted plants. Even horses hooves, you know, ships ballasts, so they have all kinds of ways of getting around with us.

Farmer Fred :

There has been a lot of talk, and we've talked about it on the show about the benefits of worm castings. And for those who may have missed those times, tell people about worm castings and the benefit they are to a garden.

Amy Stewart :

Well, I really encourage people to think about worm castings as a soil inoculant because they're so full of beneficial bacteria, protozoa, nematodes, fungi, I mean, there can be a billion living creatures in a handful of worm castings. So a little little bit goes a long way. It's a very powerful soil amendment and I really recommend just adding a little bit right at the roots of potted plants as you're, you know, planning your fall garden for instance,

Farmer Fred :

I'm kind of anal when you say "a little bit." Are you talking about a teaspoon, a tablespoon or what?

Amy Stewart :

I'm talking about maybe a handful.

Farmer Fred :

Okay, so a handful. that's exact. So a handful of the worm castings in a hole when you plant in fact, you urge people in your book to maybe get away from roto tilling their garden every spring because it disturbs the earthworms to a great deal. And you have another method for planting: the no till method and using some interesting coverings. why don't you tell us about that?

Amy Stewart :

Yeah, I use cover crops in my garden a lot. And this is especially something that you can do if you don't get a real hard freeze in the winter. But even then, if you plant early enough, you can do this where you plant maybe fava beans, vetch, rye grass, ryegrass, in any empty spot in your garden where you're not going to be planning where you're going to Have a little rest so the roots go down very deep help break up clay soil. A lot of those, you know something like vegetable really help to fix nitrogen in the soil and prevent soil erosion and then just chop that down in the spring and let it decompose, let the roots decompose underground and you're ready to plant.

Farmer Fred :

In some books or literature you may see about cover cropping in the spring to cut it down and then till it in. But that's not necessarily such a great idea, is it?

Amy Stewart :

No, a lot of people now are just saying there's no need to till it in. just leave it there on the surface and the roots will gradually decompose underground and help keep that fragile community of microorganisms intact underground.

Farmer Fred :

You talk about in your book, when you're doing that in the fall after you've torn out your summer garden is to put in a layer of newspaper as well. How much newspaper would you put in and then put, I guess, compost on top and then the cover crop? Exactly how would you go about that?

Amy Stewart :

I use 10 to 20 sheets of newspaper or or cardboard. you know When I moved into this house, we had a lot of cardboard boxes. So this is a great way to start a new garden for the first time, lay down many overlapping layers of cardboard, and then start piling compost and manure on top of that. you could even plant a cover crop on top of that. And gradually the worms will come up and eat the cardboard and the whole thing will sort of come together and create this light fluffy layer that you can plant right into in the spring.

Farmer Fred :

So it only takes a couple of seasons that if you did that, in the fall, that ground would be ready to plant in the spring.

Amy Stewart :

Sure, yeah. The garden we're standing in. I did a lot of this garden that way.

Farmer Fred :

Are there any restrictions as far as what sort of newspaper to use in such a process?

Amy Stewart :

You know, most newspapers are using soy based inks right now. So the inks are a lot safer. Of course, I don't use any glossy paper, but I don't think there's a problem with small colored photographs. For instance, on newspaper.

Farmer Fred :

You know what's great about raising worms to get the worm castings is you don't need a lot of space. Tell us about your little setup on your back porch.

Amy Stewart :

Well, I've got a worm bin called a Can O'Worms. And this is a bin that you can buy commercially, and it's quite small and wouldn't you say it's about the size of an ordinary garbage can maybe not even that large, it's smaller than that. Yeah. And it has three stacking trays so the worms can move throughout. It's sort of like a worm condo, you know, they can move up and down through these three layers. And it's the easiest thing in the world, walk out the kitchen door, dump food scraps in there, and then pull out castings whenever I need them for the garden.

Farmer Fred :

And again, you would just use those castings. In a planting hole, you wouldn't have to buy yards and yards of worm castings to spread throughout a garden area.

Amy Stewart :

That's right. In fact, you know, it really isn't going to do your garden a lot of good to spread worm castings on the surface. They do have a tendency to sort of dry out and oxidize, they're really best for being underground. So this is great when you're planting new plants or if you want to sort of work some in around existing plants. Really, really be sure and get it underground and maybe cover it with a layer of mulch.

Farmer Fred :

What about the liquid products that people are now manufacturing using worm castings, worm tea. is that useful is that worth the effort?

Amy Stewart :

It is useful. I have a compost tea Brewer here that has a little bubbler like an aquarium bubbler. So you can mix in worm castings with water and let it kind of brew for 24 hours. And what will happen is all those beneficial microbes, their population will really explode in this damp aerobic environment. And then you can use it as a foliar feed, you know, spray it right on the leaves of plants. And it's really supposed to help you know plants, grow faster, resist diseases, be better able to fight off pest infestation. So yeah, it's a great thing to do for your garden.

Farmer Fred :

In your book, you talk about doing some research as far as the benefits of worm castings that there is some thought that maybe worm castings can ward off plant disease and pests. What have you found out in that regard?

Amy Stewart :

Yeah, I talked to a researcher at Ohio State University. This is one of those rumors, believe it or not, they're like worm chat rooms out there on the internet. Like what Have those crazy urban legends about worm castings is that they will help get rid of aphids and whitefly which you know, we're all looking for Yeah. And so I asked Dr. Edwards at the at Ohio State University about that, because he does a lot of research on earthworms in agriculture. And he said, You know, there really may be something to that they have done some greenhouse experiments where they have seen that plants grown in soil that's rich in worm castings really do seem to be left alone by those sucking insects like aphids or like whitefly. I use them all my roses, I haven't had a big problem with aphids since I started doing it. It's one of those things that it can't hurt to try. But the research isn't quite there yet.

Farmer Fred :

You also talked about in your book that there are some plants that worms will shy away from maybe even run away from if they could possibly run, and one of those is wasabi.

Amy Stewart :

Oh, that's right. They hate wasabi and they hate mustard. earthworm scientists know all these tricky ways to get worms out of the soil if they want to do an earthworm census. And one of the ways to do that is to sort of impregnate the soil with mustard or wasabi but you know that that'll bring a lot of stuff up to the surface and on the anybody who wants to live in that environment.

Farmer Fred :

There are a lot of farmers and backyard gardeners who will use mustard as a cover crop especially for its beautiful show of flowers in late winter and early spring in the Sacramento area. But that won't be doing the earthworm population much good will it.

Amy Stewart :

well, I don't I doubt that the roots of a mustard plant are really as concentrated as a mustard product made from the seeds. So I don't think it discourages worms too much to use mustard as a cover crop.

Farmer Fred :

What do you feed the worms by the way?

Amy Stewart :

Oh, good question. They're not very picky eaters. I'll tell you what they don't like. They don't like anything too spicy. So I don't give them onions, garlic, chili peppers. They don't like meat, dairy, any kind of fat will get very rancid. So you want to leave that out. So lots of vegetables, all your vegetable trimmings, they love fruit and I think probably the reason for that is there's a lot of sugar fruit which attracts a lot of bacteria. And that's actually what the earthworms are eating. They're not really eating the banana or the mango that you drop in the bin. They're eating all the little microscopic creatures that are eating the mango or the banana, bell pepper. So I always put lots of shredded newspaper or shredded computer paper, coffee grounds, tea bags, plain pasta or rice, so there's plenty that you can feed them.

Farmer Fred :

And how important is the moisture level in a worm composting bin.

Amy Stewart :

It's very important because that's how earthworms breathe. their skin needs to be damp. In order for them to breathe. They don't have lungs, they breathe through special cells in their skin. So it needs to be about as damp as a wrung out sponge. If it's too wet. They'll come to the surface the way you see worms mass on the sidewalk after a rainstorm because they're in search of air. And if it's too dry, they just can't survive. So it is important to really watch dampness and of course that's really affected by heat as well.

Farmer Fred :

Speaking of heat, it does get warm in Sacramento. here in Humboldt County, you're lucky to get over 75 So you can probably raise just about any worm you want. But in the Central Valley and areas where it does get quite warm, is there a worm that can tolerate the heat better than others?

Amy Stewart :

Well, actually the worm that's most popular for composting, the red wiggler, which is Latin name by Eisenia fetida is pretty tolerant of a lot of different conditions, is a very forgiving worm, which I think is one of the reasons it's become so popular for home worm composting. And just make sure that your bed is completely in the shade that it gets no sun at all. And if you want to bring it into a basement or garage, keep the thermometer there and really keep an eye on it because some people's garages get a lot hotter during the day than they might realize.

Farmer Fred :

Well Amy Stewart, thanks for spending some time with us. Thanks for the tour of your garden. And again the name of your book is...

Amy Stewart :

the earth moved on the remarkable achievement of earthwormspublished by Algonquin books and available at a bookstore or online near you.

Farmer Fred :

Thank you Amy. Thank you The Fair Oaks horticulture Center is a garden gem. It's run by the Sacramento County Master Gardeners. The Center includes a water efficient landscape demonstration garden; an orchard which includes fruit bushes, a table grape vineyard, berries, extensive berries, blueberries, blackberries, so much more vegetable and herb garden and an extensive display of composting systems, including vermicomposting. The Fair Oaks Horticulture Center is in Fair Oaks park right next to their community garden. And the Fair Oaks horticulture center is only open at certain times though, so do an internet search for the Fair Oaks horticulture center for more details and plan a visit sometime. but from 2017 Here is our chat with Master Gardener Susan Muckey, about their worms and worm bins. Hi, it's farmer Fred. We're at the Fair Oaks horticulture center. It's open garden day on this Saturday in May and I'm over in the composting center, talking with Susan Muckey, master gardener. We're over by the worm bins, and we're going to talk a little bit about Vermicompost. Now this is a little different. This is looks like to be an old wooden wagon that you've got your worms in.

Susan Muckey :

Yes, one of our Master Gardeners husband built this. And actually she had taken her old sandbox from her children and and done that at home. And you can see, you can't see a picture here, but you can see a picture here. And so that's where they got the idea. And it works really, really great. We fill it with pine shavings, and it takes all of our kitchen wastes and it works really, really well. The worms just eat everything up.

Farmer Fred :

For those that don't have a screen on their radio, I'll describe this container for you. It looks to be a wooden box that's about 18 inches wide, maybe two feet wide by about three feet long. And it looks to be about 12 inches or so deep.

Susan Muckey :

Right? And we also when you're making a worm bin, you don't want to make it too deep because the worms basically I just live on this the top of the soil. And so it doesn't need to be like a regular compost bin, which would be three by three by three. And this works really, really well. This particular bin has wheels on it so that we can move it if we weren't to need it to move it because it gets kind of heavy. And interesting fact about compost worms is five pounds of worms will eat about 200 pounds of kitchen waste in a month.

Farmer Fred :

in a month. Yeah, so remind me not to get five pounds of worms. I probably should start with one pound of worms. .

Susan Muckey :

And when we sell our bins, which we do at our harvest day, we have a 10 gallon Rubbermaid container and we give you just a handful of worms and that's really enough to start your worm bin, a small worm bin.

Farmer Fred :

Now we should point out that there was a lid to this, a hinged lid. and why do worms need to be covered?

Susan Muckey :

Well, they're very shy. They Don't like the light. And so especially if we were to lift the lid off, then the worms would take a nosedive down to the bottom because they don't like the light at all.

Farmer Fred :

And it also keeps out skunks and raccoons and possums. That's right. Or birds that particularly like, worms. So what all is going into this vermicomposting bin, you said you started off with shavings

Susan Muckey :

right. We started off with pine shavings, you could start off with shredded newspaper. You just don't want to use Redwood shavings you don't want to use a cedar shavings because those are sort of there. They're against the the insects and so they they would probably repel the worms. They don't like that. But if you go to a like Sheldon Feed or any of the feed stores, you can get a huge bale of shavings and make sure it's either pine or fir and you just dump it into your bin. You moisten it because the, the worms have sort of a slimy coating on them and they need to be able to slither through the bedding. And so you moisten it and then you just start adding your, your vegetable scraps from your your kitchen things that you're not eating.

Farmer Fred :

So if you didn't want to use pine shavings, you could, as you mentioned, use shredded newspapers or shredded plain white paper,

Susan Muckey :

you could use shredded newspaper, where we're really not heading towards the regular paper. We're just finding out now that laser print has kind of an oil base. And so we're saying probably don't use that in your in your worm bin or in your compost pile. We're saying just maybe newspaper and inkjet paper or printed paper is probably okay because ink is soy based and that's okay. You just don't want to use Any advertisements in your worm bin or in your compost bin, your regular compost bin.

Farmer Fred :

Alright, so we've got the bedding for the worms, and we're feeding them kitchen scraps. What are the foods out of our kitchen we should not be putting into this bin with the worms.

Susan Muckey :

They do not like citrus, because of the oil on the rinds affects them. They don't like that. We don't put any garlic we don't put pineapple, pineapples are too acidic. And we also don't put onion in there.

Farmer Fred :

I have noticed that with my own vermicomposting bin that you can pretty well tell what they will eat and what they won't eat. Because when you come back a week or two later, and you still see that orange sitting there, or even a whole banana peel, you realize, well maybe I should have cut that up into smaller pieces,

Susan Muckey :

right? And another thing that's interesting is the worms will eat all the foods around the stickers and I found a lot of vegetable stickers because I forgot to Take them off. They particularly like to do what we call cuddling in the avocado skins. And so you'll pick up an avocado skin that you threw in there. And you'll find a whole crowd of them just just having a party now.

Farmer Fred :

But they will eat avocados, but they won't eat other citrus?

Susan Muckey :

That's right. Wow. Well, we haven't we don't put the flesh in there. We only put the skin in because we ate the flesh. Yeah. Okay.

Farmer Fred :

All right, that makes sense. Now, one thing we didn't point out about this bin and it's true for any vermi- composting bin where you have worms, it needs drainage, it because they produce a lot of liquid and where does that liquid go? What do you do with the liquid?

Susan Muckey :

Well, and this particular bin because it's made out of wood slats, it's got natural drainage built in, and also it has wheels on it, and it's got another section that kind of keeps it off the ground. When we sell our worm bins. We put holes in the bottom, and we tell people to put their worm bins up on bricks or on two by fours or something, because you don't want to drown your worms.

Farmer Fred :

How big are the holes Are you drilling in this? quarter inch, quarter inch, right? And you still have all the liquid? Where is the liquid goes? It just goes into the ground below? Or can you save that liquid and do something with it?

Susan Muckey :

Well, the the bin that I have, I call it in a comp apartment complex. And so it has several layers. And then there's one layer at the bottom that doesn't have any holes in it at all. And so all the liquid drains down, and it's actually got a spigot on it, man. And so I could take that and dilute it and use it in my I wouldn't use it in my vegetable garden, but I would probably use it in my landscaping. And it's it's you can I would dilute it and then you just use it.

Farmer Fred :

Why wouldn't you use it in vegetables?

Susan Muckey :

I would, I would be concerned like on lettuce or something like that. If there's anything that you know might be harmful, we're not really sure. And so there hasn't been enough research done on it. Yet to For us to say yes, use it on your vegetables.

Farmer Fred :

Now the reason for having worms eating your kitchen garbage is what they produce. What do they produce? Where is it? What do you do with it?

Susan Muckey :

Yeah, they produce the most wonderful looking, it looks kind of like soil. And I never really really was into composting until I saw what happens through the months when you take a banana peel, and then it turns into this gorgeous rich compost. You go. I'm a believer, and so it's extremely high in a lot of microorganisms. It also has a lot of nutritional value. And it's it's probably almost like bat guano. It's a very high form of, of a soil amendment,

Farmer Fred :

and it's called worm castings and people use it perhaps as a thin layer of as a topping. Maybe but put mulch on it. You don't really want to On the soil surface.

Susan Muckey :

it really dries out, and I use it actually a lot in my my tomatoes I found I just take a scoop of worm compost, mix it into the ground and then put my tomato plants in and I really have no problems with my tomatoes through the years. I mean, I just don't have any problems and I think it's the worm compost

Farmer Fred :

one of the best foods for your plants that you can grow at home via the worms, a vermicomposting bin. You can see several examples of them here at the fair oaks horticulture center. Susan McKee thanks for your time today.

Susan Muckey :

Thank you.

Farmer Fred :

Finally to sing the praises of warm excrement, okay worm castings is Kellogg garden products organic educator Giselle Schoniger. I know that G&B organics, part of the Kellogg line, has a product called worm-gro, which is earthworm castings. what is the deal with earthworm castings? Why are they so good for the soil?

Giselle Schoniger :

Oh god that you just touched on one of my favorite products so far. So it's basically earthworm poop is like a casting is or vermicompost is another name for it. And our product is made with worm castings, a small amount of forest humus and seaweed or kelp. And the thing about worm castings is you know, they will eat any of the organic matter or mineral base left in the soil. So any of the leaves that drop to the ground that the vegetable matter that's in the soil, they will take that into their mouth and they also take biology into their mouth at the same time and on the back end. You're basically getting a super fortified, highly nutritious material manure that is also infused with the beneficial living organisms. So the worm casts Things are typically three to five times higher than nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium on the back end. You know, so that so an earthworm casting, they're basically their manure is highly nutritious. It's infused with beneficial living organisms. It seems it's soluble so a plant can use the nutrients right away, and it's just highly nutritious. It also binds soil together so that it will also retain more moisture. And it also minimizes insect and disease pressures in the garden. Why? Because the plant is so nutrient fortified. I love our worm castings and I recommend that people add worm castings every time they plant something into the ground.

Farmer Fred :

Now from what I understand with worm castings, a little bit goes a long way with the GNB worm-gro product. What are the application instructions?

Giselle Schoniger :

you know Really, I was saying like if you're putting, let's say you're putting a four inch plant into the ground, I put about three or four tablespoons right into that planting hole with your planting mix, and with your fertilizer mixer right in and it'll just disappear into the soil. If you have a bug issue, you can mulch with worm castings all the way to the drip line to where the leaves are and where the you know the dew drops at the end of the drip line around the plant. So you've put the worm castings down about a half an inch to three quarters of an inch, and then you want to top it with another mulch. worm castings can be like a duck's back, the water will fall off of it. So if you cover it with a thin layer of mulch over the top of the worm castings, water it in. Within a couple of months, you'll start to see the insects like whitelfies leave your plant because there is an enzyme In the worm castings, it's called chitinace and chitinase will break down chitin. And chitin is the exoskeleton of an insect. Sorry, that's a very difficult thing to explain. But an insect exoskeleton is made of chitin and if you have an enzyme that's going to break it down, it's in the worm castings. It is in mother nature's way of controlling certain pests in the garden.

Farmer Fred :

Giselle Schoniger. she's the organic gardening educator for Kellogg garden products. To find out more you can visit their website, Kellogg garden.com Kellogg has two G's for more information about their product lines of soils, soil amendments, fertilizers, and much more. Giselle Schoniger, Thanks for a few minutes of your time.

Giselle Schoniger :

Thank you so much. I'm delighted

Farmer Fred :

Garden Basics comes out every Tuesday and Friday, and it's available just about anywhere podcasts are handed out and that includes Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, I Heart Radio, overcast, Spotify, stitcher, tune-in, and hey, Alexa, play the Garden Basics with Farmer Fred podcast, would you please? Thank you for listening, subscribing and leaving comments. We appreciate it.

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