Worms are the work force behind a healthy garden soil. They draw organic material, like leaves and grasses, down into the soil - breaking it down into worm casts rich in nutrients that benefit growing plants. In doing this, worms continuously turn the soil over and the burrows they make allow air and water to pass more easily through the soil levels – this all helps to improve soil’s structure. Keeping worms in a wormery and feeding them kitchen scraps is an ideal way of harnessing their recycling powers as they turn our kitchen scraps into nutrient rich compost ‘vermicompost’ and worm juice or ‘vermijuice’. Worm compost is rich in phosphorus and nitrogen two of the key essential nutrients for healthy leaves and roots.
Vermijuice’ can be drawn off from the bottom of your wormery (usually through a tap) and stored in plastic bottles. This thick black liquid is brim full of beneficial bacteria that stimulate activity in the soil that releases essential nutrients such as Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium so that plants can use them. ‘Vermijuice’ also contains nutrients that can directly boost plant growth and seed germination. Usually ‘vermijuice’ is diluted 1 part to 10 parts water or until it looks like weak tea before being added to plants as a foliar feed or simply watered at their base.
‘Vermicompost’ can be used all year round for enriching and conditioning soil.
‘Vermijuice’ can also be used year round but is particularly useful during summer when gross feeders such as zucchini, tomatoes, squashes, sweetcorn, raspberries and artichokes are at their most productive.
‘Vermicompost’ can be removed from your wormery once it is full and can be dug into garden soil to help improve its structure and to store nutrients. ‘Vermicompost’ is rich and so does not need to be added in quite the same quantities as normal garden compost. It acts as a slow-release source of nutrients providing sustained nutrition in the soil over time. Adding ‘vermicompost’ to your soil also increases microbial activity that breaks down material in the soil and releases nutrients for plants.
Spread ‘vermicompost’ onto your beds with a spade or shovel and then dig in using a fork – this saves chopping up too many of the worms that you’ll almost certainly find living in it.
Scatter compost across beds and turn into soil with a spade so that fragments of manure and soil are visibly mixed to about a fork’s depth for general soil preparation and conditioning.
‘Vermicompost’ can be added to individual planting holes (maybe a handful or two in most cases) when planting the likes of rhubarb, globe artichoke, zucchini, melon, tomato and other hungry high producers – just mix in with soil at the bottom of the planting hole before you put your plant in.