How to make organic fertiliser from worm casings.

In the basement I have two worm farms. One is  a conventional vertical worm farm that has trays that you layer upwards.  I feed the worms a mixture of brown feed and green feed. The brown includes egg cartons, cardboard, coffee grounds, tea leaves, shredded paper, egg shells, dead leaves and in this case the straw from the bottom of the chicks box. 

The green portion is everything else except for citrus, tomatoes, dairy and meat.  All vegetables, fruits and leaves. Their favourite food is melons! As the trays  on the bottom are digested by the worms and  become full and black and the worms have left it and moved upwards to the next tray full of feed, then  I empty the matured tray into a big bathtub. The worms work in layers and do not like to be stirred up, so they have a do not disturb sign on the doorknob.  All winter I collect the worm soil into the bath (I took photos but they were so lacking in interest I deleted them. Worms hate cameras.) Any late worms in the worm casings wander off.  (I keep one corner of the bath full of green to attract them.)  Yesterday I  scooped out about 8 cups of good black worm casings.  Wrapped these in a cheesecloth. 

I half filled a five gallon bucket  with rain water and stirred in 1 teaspoon of organic unpasteurised molasses.   I use a little cheap aquarium bubbler for the next step. Lower the hose to the bottom of the bucket and  begin aerating the water. We are going to suspend the bag in the water, now where is my stick? Ah.   Well that is typical. Tie the bag to the stick,  and lower it into the bucket so it is suspended above the bubbles. 

Leave this to work for 24 hours. The air and the molasses help to wake up all the  clever little micro organisms in the worm casings. These are the guys you want to activate the soil around your plants.

I began this yesterday as it started to rain.  Beautiful,  beautiful rain. After the rain is the perfect time to apply your worm fertiliser.  It will be absorbed by the soil and the leaves.  What we have made is a concentrate.

Mine is still bubbling on the verandah so we have no photos of the next stage that I will do later today in the rain.  (Yes, it is raining again.. joy!) Take out the bag and empty the casings into the garden. Strain your fertiliser through a paint or oil straining filter.  Then dilute it three to one, one being your fertiliser concentrate, and within 12 hours of turning your bubbles off – spray your plants with it.  Spray while it is still active. This is alive now, spray it today.

There are many, many different application instructions. Some say apply every week. Some say spray in the evening of a full moon after a rain, once a month.   Some say every two weeks for three months or whatever. Basically I spray it as often as I have time to, in the spring.  All the fields will be sprayed with this fertiliser.  And all the gardens.  It is magic for soil.  

It is more than a fertiliser as it begins a process in the soil that helps the soil heal itself and continue to develop its own fertility. It is like giving a starving village a cow instead of a box of milk biscuits.

If you have worms you will have made sure to drain the fluid from the worm farm during the year.  The worms like to be damp but not drowned. This golden liquid I dilute 1 to 1 and fertilise the pot plants with it. Remember to water your pot plants first.  But the aerated  concentrate we are making today is so much more powerful, you will be amazed.

Good morning. Well you know what I will be doing today.  John is working on the outside run for the pig sty and I will be spraying worm fertiliser on the seedlings.  In the evening I will spray all the flower gardens and young vegetables with any I have left over.   Then move out to the fields.

It is raining again. With thunder as well. All the animals are standing still in their fields enjoying the water raining on their backs. They love the rain as much as we do!

Have a great Sunday/Monday. Good morning!

celi

60 Comments on “How to make organic fertiliser from worm casings.

  1. We’ve had some good thunder here too. And rain – we needed the rain. My great grandmother used to have a worm farm that she harvested. I never really knew how much work went into it. Have a great day today Celi! 🙂

    • It really is very simple and a great way to turn your kitchen scraps into compost and fertiliser for the garden. It takes up very little room (I do the bath because i need so MUCH of it) and is a great kids project. They can put all that green food in there!! Just read your post today and loved it!! c

  2. Wonderful!! Would love to try this one day…when we have some more land. Hope you are having a beautiful day, Celi.

    Mey

  3. Fascinating Celi, I’ve never read or heard about aerating the worm stuff before. I’ve thought about setting up a worm farm at home, the one problem is space in our small urban garden. It’s something I’d like to try my hand at….. Loved the shot of a sheep we are not meant to be looking at , Claire

    • Morning Claire, it really takes up very little space.. and you will love what it does for your garden.. c

  4. Finally I’ve been introduced to your wormy endeavours! Of course yours are on a much grander scale than mine but then you’ve got more to feed! Your ‘worm cast cocktail’ was facinating although my wormery’s design doesn’t really lend itself to such a process so I’ll just content myself with the liquid feed which I can drain off periodically.
    Christine

    • I have seen shots of your worm farm Christine and you will find that in a few more months there will be a thick layer of black worm casing right at the bottom that maybe you can remove anyway. The worms migrate up and will have abandoned it for you.. It takes time though, you really need to get a year ahead.. c

      • I think you’re right but unlike your arrangement, there’s no easy way to access that bottom layer and reading the instructions, it would seem that I have to wait until the bin is full whereupon I can remove the top layer containing the worms, which gives me access to the remaining compost. One of those suck it and see projects I think!
        Christine

  5. Cecilia, the amount of work you do astounds me! I learn something new almost every day from you and I love it.

    Looks like Mama is hiding from you. Maybe she thinks if she hides she can just keep those babies in there forever?

    Have a good morning and enjoy the rain! ~ April

    • Good morning April honey, Yes i think that is exactly what mama is doing.. she does not want to share. c

  6. Ah, glorious rain! We had a bit over night…not enough, but it’s a start.
    Great worm compost tea – never would have thought of using the air stone.
    Have a great day!
    (we’re NOT looking, Mama. REALLY, we’re not…)

    • Good morning, i am glad you are getting some rain on your garden.. rain just cheers us all up doesn’t it! c

  7. You’ve given me some great information here, Celi, and some incentive, too! I’ve been curious for a very long time about worm composting. I had a very small worm “box” years ago when I was teaching and I was fascinated, but never carried forward with it. I can get worms from my produce farm box and I have been thinking about it, but unsure what steps to take. I’m so impressed by the effort to completely enrich the soil and as always, your love for the land itself and the overall environment shines through and challenges me to be more efficient with what I can do. Now to explain this to my husband and not overwhelm him. Ha! I’m glad I can indeed picture what you’re doing today. I enjoy doing that. Debra

    • I hope you do start again, even if you just transfer all the casings into your own soil, and use the drained fluid for your pots, you will make a magnificent difference.. c

  8. You amaze me, Cecilia! You really do all that?! wow! I know my soil in Florida was so lacking in nutrients, hard and sandy, nothing would grow properly. I know I could not do what you’ve explained here but i so see how beneficial all this work you’ve done will help your plantings. You’re just a constant supply of information!

  9. Good Morning, Celi. I used to make worm tea from the worm bin when I worked in a public park, but I didn’t know about the molasses or the aeration. I learned how to do it from Wendy Johnson’s book, Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate. Do you know it? It is a wonderfully written and illustrated book on Wendy’s years as an organic gardener at two zen centers in California. I am continuing my tax returns this morning (I had to make an art inventory spanning eighteen years of paintings and costs because my work started selling in 2011: a good thing, the inventory, but time-consuming).

    • YIKES! Your taxes are being a trial, though once you have that inventory set up you will be able to just keep it up to date more easily. Taxes terrify me! No I have not read that book, it sounds intriguing, as does your work in a public park.. Hope cat is sat on the mat in his own house like a good cat today! c

  10. It never ceases to amaze me the well of knowledge you are about all things farmy. I have never seen a worm farm but it sounds interesting. And I love the idea of having all that fertilizer…

  11. I had a worm farm once, but it is one thing I couldn’t deal with. A s a nurse this surprised me, as I can cope with all sorts…..but I just couldn’t do it.

    I have today, however written about compost!

    When I did the worm farm I remember them product being called worm castings (not casings) – maybe another language difference across the pond?!

  12. This sounds so complicated a procedure, but well worth it! I’d love to see the before and afters in your garden. I could feel the joy and bliss in your voice when you said “rain”.. can you hear what’s in mine when I say “snow”? Still.green.with.envy.

  13. Very interesting post. Thank you. We do the same, only with finished compost in the bag for compost tea that we spray on our plants and soil. Our concoction also includes organic molasses and sometimes a shot of powdered mycorrhizae (spores from fungi, which are oh, so important for the soil food web,) and some Neptune’s Harvest, a locally produced organic fertilizer that is fish and kelp based. My garden smells like fish, but the plants love it!

  14. Hi Celi! We have two worm farms too! Hey, when are you planting your custard apple hedge row??? Remember, we are racing! I haven’t planted mine yet, but plan to do it very soon! xo

    • Mine is in, well the slush is in, I checked this morning but no seedlings yet! So you still have time!! c

  15. Thanks Celi:) My small suburban garden is 100% organic thanks to my wormies. Embarrassed to say not one vege in sight:( However I do have flowers for bees all year round. All other food waste meat, citrus goes into a Bokashi Bucket with EMs – nothing wasted:). Can we perhaps assure Mama we will only take pictures after ther lambies have arrived – would that help. Enjoy the rain!

  16. G’morning, Celi! What a coincidence! Just this morning I discovered a place nearby that has some cheese-making materials and a hodgepodge of other items. One that caught my eye was earthworm casings. They sell them by the 1/2 and full cubic foot. I went there for cheese supplies but, had I known, I would have purchased some casings for my tomato pots. I guess Max and I will be going back there this week. Thanks for the tutorial today. Enjoy the rain. I bet thunder rarely sounded so good, eh? 🙂

    • true, we got a good drop.. your tomatoes will love the earth worm casings, it is fantastic stuff! morning John! c

  17. I’ve actually seen a daycare center with a worm farm that was teaching the youngsters this process. I was duly impressed!

  18. I was so excited to read this! I have always dreamed of a worm farm; this may be the push I needed. I love your descriptions of the liquid fertilizer. We make poop juice from, well, manure, but it’s nowhere near as magical sounding as your elixir.

  19. My grandparents are slight gardening addicts with green thumbs as opposed to my purple one 😉
    They found this post most interesting my friend and say thanks 😀
    Good morning!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  20. A poultice for poorly soil! Celi, how do you get to know these things? A beautiful little ritual to heal the soil around you.

  21. I so love the idea of a worm farm and cannot figure out how I got to this age before discovering worms work is wonderful and more useful than just hooking them for a fish!

  22. I’ve been composting an old flower bed and see there are many many earthworms. I am going to check the internet to find how the tray holders are built, etc.

    If people did this in my part of the prairies, I never heard anyone talk about it. I wonder…was our soil good back then and needed no boosts? We certainly never used fertilizers.

    Oh boy, where are those parents when there are a zillion questions to be answered…!?

  23. This is great information if I ever get around to using it (procrastination is my second name at the moment) – happy worming! You are great!

  24. Great to see the worm farm, and I never knew about that process with the molasses and bucket of water. I have a tap at the bottom of my bins, and can run off the worm juice into a container. It’s so concentrated that I dilute it 1:10 before watering the plants with it. I attended a workshop on composting and worm farms and received a free set of bins from the Council. Great to be encouraged in this way. I enjoy the magic of the way the scraps disappear so fast and are turned into this fabulous soil and juice.

  25. We could really use some of your lovely rain. All of your plants will certainly be growing up a storm after their drink of worm tea.

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