When gardening organically, choosing the right fertilizer is essential to your plants’ wellbeing. Organic fertilizers bring the soil to life, otherwise being destroyed by synthetic fertilizers.
Nature blesses us with various natural fertilizers in the form of living things. Whether it’s worms, moss, fungi, or manure, the beneficial microbes found in these natural fertilizers will nourish your garden soil. Two of these wondrous fertilizers are mycorrhizae and worm castings.
Mycorrhizae and worm castings have their benefits for soil, and choosing between them can be difficult if you don’t have all the information. But, no worries - we are here to help. This article covers everything you need to know about these two fertilizers and why you should consider using them.
Earthworms are easy to overlook; they live underground, and we can often forget they’re even there. However, there’s more to them than meets the eye. They are an essential component of the food chain and our ecosystem.
Worms make excellent garden fertilizers in the form of earthworm castings. These are considered some of the best natural organic fertilizers. So what exactly is a worm cast?
Earthworm castings are, in essence, worm poop. It is the waste that worms leave behind in the soil once they have digested organic material. After eating organic matter, these nematodes absorb what they need and convert the rest into their most refined, nutrient-dense form. Waste for worms, but superfood for plants! Vermicomposting, or vermiculture, is what we call the process of making worm castings in a worm bin.
The advantages of worm castings are too many to count. Our wriggly friends’ organic waste has more nitrogen than other fertilizers and contains many types of beneficial bacteria, including nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Additionally, worm castings are rich in potassium, phosphorus, and humic acid, which promote a healthy soil food web.
Worm castings promote plant growth and save it from diseases with high nutrient content. It helps to improve soil structure with aeration and enhance its moisture content to prevent it from drying out.
Preparing a homemade worm farm is a great way to save a few dollars and make your own 100% natural fertilizer. To set up a worm bin, take a plastic container or bin and add soil, shredded paper, and enough water to submerge everything. Then add worms and worm eggs. Give them about a day to get nice and cozy in their new home, then feed them regularly with food scraps. Be sure to give your worm bin a good turn now and then—harvest worm castings after about three to six months.
Making vermicompost tea is another easy way to fertilize your plants naturally. To prepare an actively aerated compost tea, add a handful of worm compost, soil, aerator, fresh leaves, and supplements of your choice to the compost tea bag. After that, submerge this bag into a bucket of water and let it sit for at least 36 hours before collecting your tea. Finally, spray it on your plants.
You can easily use this tea as a liquid fertilizer for your potted plants. A well-brewed tea contains all the nutrients found in the original compost.
Mycorrhizae is the name given to a symbiotic relationship between fungus and plant roots. The mycorrhizal fungi make water and nutrients available to plants by increasing the roots’ absorption. Mycorrhizal fungi’s narrow roots penetrate deeper into the soil and absorb organic material more efficiently. In return, the host plant provides nourishment to the fungi produced by photosynthesis.
Rich phosphate fertilizers and other agricultural chemicals can damage mycorrhizae present in the roots. Plus, soil overuse, agriculture, and construction have disturbed the level of Mycorrhizae naturally present in the soil. However, a population of mycorrhizal fungi introduced to the soil can make up for this loss.
Mycorrhizal fungi promote root growth and take up immobile zinc, phosphorus, and copper. It increases the plants’ ability to grow under adverse conditions, prevents soil erosion, diversifies the soil food web, and protects plants from contamination by toxic substances.
Mycorrhizae are also beneficial to the soil itself. In research, we observed that the soil’s water content and organic matter concentration both increased significantly when treated with mycorrhizae. This, in turn, results in the production of healthier fruits and flowers.
Although it is pretty unusual to grow mycorrhizae at home, it does not mean that it is impossible. All you need is uncultivated soil, plant species, and a container.
First, you need to take soil from that part of the earth that has not been harvested recently. After that, select plants that are most likely to support mycorrhizal growth, such as grass species. Next, add the soil to the container and grow the plant by watering it daily. After a few months, inject fungi inoculum into the roots and remove them in a few days. Now you can use these roots in the soil, and the mycorrhizae will grow on a large scale.
Mycorrhizae work wonders for plant growth. They’re thinner than plant roots and, therefore, extend deep into the soil to absorb nutrients quickly. Many plants have it naturally present in their roots. Worm castings are also an incredible source of nutrients for your plants. The benefits of both are many, but worm castings are slightly better in comparison.
Worm castings are impossible to overuse and are nearly free if you make your own. Setting up a worm bin for vermicomposting is easy, DIY-friendly, and foolproof. It can also boost the level of mycorrhizae in the soil.
As you know, worm castings are worm excrement composed of various microbes. These essential microbes may also carry mycorrhizal fungi. Moreover, worm castings promote the natural growth of mycorrhizae in most soils. Thus, you may be able to reap the added benefits of mycorrhizae at the same time.
The use of synthetic fertilizers dramatically reduces the natural nutrient content of the soil. Therefore, many people now prefer purely organic gardening. Both mycorrhizae and worm castings are great natural options with numerous benefits. They increase nutrient uptake and help plants thrive.
When deciding which to use, worm castings are the winning choice as their benefits outweigh mycorrhizae. It is easy to harvest worm castings using a worm bin. The process is easy to maintain at home, and the fertilizer carries no adverse effects. Moreover, worm castings may also stimulate the growth of mycorrhizal fungi, providing a double advantage.
Do you wish your plants would grow bigger? Was your garden less than it should've been last year?
If you're tired of growing puny vegetables and fruits, it's time for an upgrade...Simple Grow Worm Castings!
What are worm castings? Another term for worm manure. Why would you want to use it in your garden, raised beds, and house plants? Because it makes them grow bigger, faster and healthier...with no chemicals!
How do worm castings do this? It's like giving your plants a powerful multivitamin with everything they need to grow. Trace minerals, nutrients, and most importantly...worm castings are chock full of beneficial microbes. Why does that make a difference?
In recent years, we've learned the importance of gut bacteria for humans and know that it impacts so many different parts of our health. The same thing applies with worms. Gut bacteria from the worm's digestive tract gets into the soil from the worm castings and promotes plant health. Plants have a symbiotic relationship with the microbes from the worm's digestive tract. Plants respond to it and grow really big...really fast!
If you've never tried worm castings before, you owe it to yourself to give them a try. Instead of using traditional chemical fertilizers from the big box store, why not try fresh, certified organic worm castings this year? You'll be able to grow bigger, healthier plants that you actually can feel good about eating.
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