Very interesting, I read one article about it and and already see a bit of a problemWorm compost and tea. This is something which may be expensive but with rising fertilizer costs it is something to look into.
This is something I haven't shared too much on the forum, but I'm an avid home-scale worm farmer, at most I had about 10 square feet of composting worms in three bins. There are typically 1 pound of worms per square foot in a passively managed or heavily "brown" container, and 2lb/sqft in a more green and actively managed composting system. They rapidly compost anything that was once alive outside of bones, citrus, large chunks of green wood, and some other exceptions, consuming about a quarter of their bodyweight a day. Crops may be fertilized by diluting their castings (poop, aka vermipost) in water, optionally fermenting it with some sugars such as molasses and aerating it, and then spraying it onto crops.
Worm tea has distinct advantages over typical fertilizers and manure.
Worm compost does not have as high of an N/P/K ratio as normal fertilizers, but that is counteracted by it being more available to the plants. Normal fertilizer: Vermipost:: Cheap elemental multivitamins: Expensive plant based multivitamins.
- It is a natural insect repellant. There is a compound in worm castings which dissolves chitin, the exoskeletons of pests. It won't kill them, but it repels them, comparable to a skin irritant to us.
- It is massively probiotic. Worm castings contain many beneficial microbes for plants which prevent harmful diseases from taking hold in your plants.
- Worm castings contain a growth hormone for plants.
Here is a comparison from a small scale experiment using alfalfa:
I've read three books on worm farming and I recommend The Worm Farmer's Handbook by Rhonda Sherman for mid to large scale operations.
I've personally used worm castings and tea on my garden with great success. I had plants that were yellowing and seemed to stop growing make a full recovery.
Worms are surprisingly resilient, in outdoor conditions, European Nightcrawlers can survive zones 7 and probably 6 winters easily, while "Red Wigglers" are better for slightly hotter climates. For colder climates, Canadian Nightcrawlers are a good choice. They also eat a lot more than you'd expect. They love cardboard and will even eat cereal boxes and white paper.
From the article
Things You Can’t Put In Your Worm Farm
Fresh manures – many animals are treated for worms with vermicides, which pass into the fresh manure and will kill your worms, compost them first!
Do you know of anyone who has scaled this up? What ever fertilizer I go with I will be needing tons of it.
Also does any more effort go into this than regular composting?