Consumers these days prefer everything organic, from organic fruits to vegetables and even meat and its byproducts. What can you do to make a difference? Soil contains different components depending on its type and location, and healthy soil comprises three factors: chemical composition, physical structure, and microorganisms.
Sometimes soil needs a little help regarding nutrients and other factors like porosity that promote healthy growth. Fertilizers play a significant role as far as a nutrient deficiency in the soil goes, and there are two types: organic fertilizers and synthetic fertilizers. Worm castings are fantastic organic fertilizers to consider. However, which is more effective for crop growth? Here is everything you need to know about worm castings vs. chemical fertilizers.
Worm castings are odorless and excreted after a worm feeds and digests organic matter like vegetable waste. This process is also known as vermicomposting. Castings resemble black, egg-shaped coffee grounds and are a fantastic natural fertilizer for plants. Worm poop contains valuable minerals that include: magnesium, manganese, borax, cobalt, iron, copper, phosphorus, carbon, and nitrogen.
In addition, worm castings also have other components like enzymes, humus, and beneficial bacteria, essential for healthy soil.
The worms used for vermicomposting are budget-friendly, and you can purchase three types of worms online or from bait stores. You get various worms perfect for gardening, including hybrid worms, red wigglers, and compost worms, each with different characteristics.
Chemical fertilizers are special in farming and contain synthetic compounds that cater to a specific soil deficit. Nitrogenous fertilizers, for instance, work on soils that lack sufficient nitrogen. These chemicals are highly water-soluble and absorb quickly into the soil. Once absorbed, they work fast to provide plants with the nutrient boost they need to grow and become healthy. However, chemical fertilizers deplete rapidly. Additionally, due to the fast results, the soil becomes fertilizer-dependent.
As discussed earlier, chemical fertilizers are more dedicated because they carry key components like nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium or a combination to fix a particular soil problem. The soil digests this water-soluble fertilizer quicker. Despite its efficiency, it can often do more harm than good.
Chemical fertilizers like those rich in Ammonium are pretty acidic, destroying the soil's pH level. Each soil type supports different types of enzymes and microbes. Microorganisms such as mycorrhizal fungi and nitrogen-fixing symbiotic bacteria are crucial in keeping the soil fertile.
Once soil turns acidic, microbes in the soil cannot survive, resulting in them dying, leaving the ground barren. Unlike chemical fertilizers, worm castings have a neutral pH of seven, which does not affect the microbe composition in soil. Earthworms release more bacteria into the ground that helps break down any pesticides and pollutants.
Prolonged use of chemical fertilizers introduces acids like sulfuric and hydrochloric acids into the soil, which contributes to soil friability. Friability means the acids dissolve soil crumbs that hold rock particles together, promoting soil porosity. Soil crumbs are necessary for soil aeration that keeps organisms in the soil alive.
Organic fertilizers like worm castings are soil conditioners, and soil crumbs come from humus and decomposed materials like leaves. Humus holds more water than its weight, increasing water retention in the soil. Worm casting contains more humus than any other organic fertilizer. Large particles also help make the soil loose and increase aeration, which assists plants with nutrient retention.
Chemical fertilizers kill beneficial microbes by altering the soil's pH level. Some of these organisms include antibiotic-producing bacteria that prevent plant diseases. These fertilizers release a lot of nitrogen at once into the ground. Excessive nitrogen and insufficient trace elements in the soil make plants attractive to pests and increase their susceptibility to fungal and bacterial disease. On the other hand, worm castings are slow-release organic fertilizers and release nitrogen gradually.
Chemical fertilizers leach the soil because they essentially provide the soil with excess nutrients all at once. Plants can only absorb so many nutrients while the rest drains away, which pollutes groundwater, a significant source of our water intake. Unlike chemical fertilizers, earthworms counteract leaching because the nutrients are released slowly, making it easier for plants to absorb.
Worm castings produce humic acid, an essential component during germination. Humic acid aids with the fast absorption of minerals like manganese, calcium, iron, and other trace minerals. The acid stimulates plant roots by increasing the microbial activity in the soil. It is also an excellent root cleanser that flushes excess salts out of the root zone and lowers the pH levels in the soil.
The high salt content in chemical fertilizer can be harmful to plants. For example, fertilizer burn occurs when you apply excess fertilizer to plants, damaging plant roots and turning the plants yellow.
There are several ways to use worm castings:
You can sprinkle the castings around your plants. Because of its ability to gradually release nutrients and promote fast absorption, plants can access these nutrients and grow quicker.
Worm castings can also help seeds germinate faster. Combine worm castings with your seed-starter mix to boost seed germination.
Making worm casting tea is another excellent method of using vermicompost. You can make the tea by steeping worm castings in water, and you will need a compost tea bag. You can use it to water your garden, spray the plants, or even your seedbed as you wait for them to germinate. Worm tea absorbs into the soil faster than solid worm castings, producing faster results.
Who knew that organisms as trivial as earthworms could have such a significant impact on plant growth? Throughout this article, we have detailed worm castings vs. chemical fertilizer and how each promotes plant growth and soil health. Synthetic fertilizers are temporary solutions. When overused, they can strip the soil of nutrients and alter the structure and composition.
Chemical fertilizers are rich in potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus, but you only need them in small amounts. Although organic fertilizers do not possess the same nutrients, they bring hard-to-reach nutrients to the surface. They also contribute towards longer soil nutrient retention, soil aeration, and water retention. Based on all the information, it is safe to assume that worm castings are a more favorable solution than chemical fertilizers.
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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