Worm Tea Anyone?
I will have a large cup of worm tea with lemon and sugar please. Just kidding… we don’t drink worm tea but our plants absolutely love it.
Worm tea or vermi-tea is made by steeping worm castings in water and aerating to grow large amounts of beneficial bacteria. The resulting brew can have extraordinary effects on your gardens and lawns. This is an introduction to worm tea.
We won’t be talking too much about the process of brewing the tea but rather the basic concepts involved.
In this article we will discuss some of the “Dos” and “Don’ts” regarding the usage of worm teas.
We will take a look at some of the beneficial properties of tea and the reasons you should be using it.
Worm Tea Benefits
Vermi-teas are the other side of the coin regarding worm castings usage in your gardens.
Worm castings add beneficial bacteria and slowly release nutrients that help your plants to grow. Worm teas add huge amounts of bacteria and super-charge plant growth immediately.
This would kind of be like comparing the family car (worm castings) to a NASCAR race car (worm tea). Bacteria is the Single greatest source of nitrogen available to your plants.
Other benefits include a lowering of pH in your soil and helping to inoculate your plants to disease and pests. As bacteria die they release carbon dioxide that is used by your plants for photosynthesis.
The bacteria also supply nitrogen which is immediately available to your plants. Worm teas can be applied as needed to help boost your gardens and lawns.
A Short Video
This is a short You tube video that I stumbled across. This guy has some raised bed gardens and has one set up as a control for comparison.
The results are certainly not scientific but more anecdotal. This is also my experience with using worm teas and something that I have seen time and time again. Take a look:
Some “Dos” and “Don’ts”
There needs to be some discussion about the proper way to use worm teas. This is a short list that will help you get the most benefit while using your tea.
Do – Use your tea within 24 hours of brewing.
Yes, Do – Use un-chlorinated water when brewing
Do – Use as a Foliar spray on your plants or as a soil drench. (or both)
Yes, Do – Dilute and use. ( Experiment with this. Some people have great results up to a 10 – 1 ratio.)
Do – Soak your seeds before planting in worm tea. This works great for inoculating.
There are also some things we should NOT do when using worm teas:
Don’t – Use a pressure sprayer for application. Spray nozzles can kill the bacteria and fungi. Use a watering can instead.
Don’t – Spray in sunlight. Only spray in the late evening so that UV rays won’t kill your bacteria.
Pressure sprays and UV rays will kill your bacteria. Water with a gravity-fed watering can or (on small plants) an old turkey baster works great.
Newly introduced bacteria will be able to survive under the cover of darkness and get their “sunscreen” on before the next day. This really raises the effectiveness of your brew.
Worm tea has a very short shelf-life. Refrigeration may help but usage within 24 hours is good practice. Chlorine kills bacteria. Use rain water or gas-off tap water for at least 24 hours before using.
Soft water is also a No – No. You can foliar spray or soil drench. Both work really well. Soaking your seeds in worm tea before planting gets them off to a quick and healthy start.
Worm tea is very beneficial for your plants and gardens. It supplies a quick boost and helps to prevent disease and pests.
Compost tea can be applied as often as you want. It will not harm your plants or burn them. We have learned how to apply the tea and how NOT to apply the tea.
In a future post, we will discuss how to make the worm tea and the equipment required. We will also discuss some additives that people use when brewing that can make your tea even more powerful. Until then, garden smart.