Organic cultivation is an increasingly popular agricultural practice, which is based on the use of sustainable and environmentally friendly techniques and methods. One of the most important practices in this type of cultivation is the use of completely organic fertilizers, which provide the necessary elements for the growth and development of plants without the negative effects of chemical nutrients.
Among the different types of organic fertilizers, vermicompost stands out for its high quality and excellent nutritional value for plants. Vermicompost is produced through a composting process with worms, which digest organic matter and transform it into a fertilizer rich in macro and micronutrients, as well as beneficial microorganisms for the proper development of crops. Today we will tell you more about this type of fertilizer, its applications in agriculture, and, of course, how to prepare it, either in solid or liquid form.
What is vermicompost?
Vermicompost is an organic fertilizer produced thanks to a process of decomposition of organic matter by means, in most cases, of Californian red worms. This worm composting process, also known as vermicomposting, is an ecological and sustainable technique for recycling organic waste that is used to produce a high-quality, nutritionally rich fertilizer for plants. You literally use your trash to make a great fertilizer for your plants!
The vermicomposting process involves feeding worms organic matter, which can be fruit and vegetable scraps, leaves, twigs, and other organic waste. Worms digest this matter and turn it into compost rich in nutrients and beneficial microorganisms for plants. The compost obtained is especially rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, three of the main nutrients for cannabis, as well as other essential nutrients for proper growth and development.
As you will see in more detail below, the use of vermicompost in agriculture and gardening has several benefits, such as increasing soil fertility, improving soil structure, reducing erosion, and preventing diseases and pests. Additionally, vermicomposting is a sustainable and eco-friendly way to reduce the amount of organic waste sent to landfills, helping to reduce your carbon footprint and contributing to a healthier environment.
Crop fertilisation is beginning to be seen as a double-edged sword: while necessary to produce crops that can feed us all, it is also a considerable source of pollution for the environment, so it seems essential to reconsider the techniques and products we use.
Are vermicompost and worm humus the same thing?
At this point in the article, an important question has probably already arisen… what is the difference between vermicompost and worm humus? Let’s make it clear: vermicompost is the end product of the composting process in which Californian red worms (Eisenia foetida) decompose organic materials. This composting process takes place in a box or container where the worms consume the organic materials, processing them through their digestive tract and excreting a nutrient-rich final product. Vermicompost is a high-quality fertilizer that is characterized by being dark, soft and spongy.
On the other hand, worm humus is the result of the vermicomposting process, but it refers specifically to the fraction of organic fertilizer that has completely decomposed. In other words, worm humus is the final phase of the vermicomposting process in which all organic particles have been broken down into stable organic matter and plant-available nutrients. Worm humus is a fertilizer very rich in nutrients and beneficial microorganisms for plants.
In summary, vermicompost is the final product of the worm composting process, while worm humus is the finer and more mature fraction of that vermicompost. Both products are excellent sources of plant nutrients and can be used in gardening, agriculture, and horticulture.
Uses of vermicompost in agriculture
The advantages of using this type of organic fertilizer are not only to provide nutrients and microbial life to the substrate; quite the contrary, vermicompost has other interesting applications in the field, which help not only the development of fertilized plants but also the structure of the soil where it is used. Let’s see some of them:
- Organic Fertilizer: As you already know, vermicompost is an excellent organic fertilizer that provides essential plant nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. These nutrients are absorbed by plants more efficiently than chemical fertilizers, which reduces the amount of nutrients lost to the soil and in turn decreases the risk of reaching toxic levels.
- Soil structure improvement: Vermicompost is rich in organic matter and microorganisms that help improve soil structure. Regular use of vermicompost can increase the soil’s ability to retain water and nutrients, resulting in better plant growth.
- Control of diseases and pests: The microorganisms present in vermicompost have antifungal and antibacterial properties, which help control diseases and pests in plants. Additionally, vermicompost can increase plant resistance to diseases and pests.
- Acceleration of plant growth: Worm compost is high in natural growth hormones, which stimulate plant growth and increase yield.
- Erosion reduction: Vermicompost helps to retain moisture in the soil, which reduces erosion and the loss of nutrients caused by runoff water, which little by little leach the substrate and makes it lose much of its nutritious elements.
How to make vermicompost
We imagine that, given the advantages of worm compost, you are already wondering how you can prepare it at home. The process, although simple, requires some patience, as it will take a few months before you get the first results. However, we assure you that it is something worth starting, because once you have your composter ready, the work will be done by the worms for you. Here is one of several methods that are commonly used:
- Select a container: Choose a suitable container for vermicomposting, which can be a plastic container, a wooden box, or any other container that has holes for ventilation and drainage.
- Add organic matter: Add a layer of organic matter such as leaves, paper, fruit and vegetable remains, branches, etc. This layer will provide the food base for the worms.
- Add the worms: Add the Californian red worms, which are the most common in the production of vermicompost. Make sure the worms are evenly distributed in the container.
- Keep Moist: Add enough water to keep the container moist, but be sure not to add too much water, as this can drown the worms.
- Add more organic matter: Add more organic matter as the amount in the container decreases. The worms will consume the organic matter and produce vermicompost.
- Collect the vermicompost: After a few weeks or months, your vermicompost will be ready for use. Separate vermicompost from food scraps and other undecomposed materials.
It is important to note that vermicomposting requires certain conditions for the worms to feel comfortable and produce quality vermicompost. Basically, it’s about maintaining adequate humidity, providing enough oxygen, and avoiding adding materials that may be toxic to worms, such as fatty foods or citrus fruits. By following these guidelines, vermicomposting can be a simple and effective way to produce high-quality compost at home.
How long does vermicompost take to produce?
The time that the process of making vermicompost takes depends on several factors, such as the quantity and quality of the organic materials used, the number of worms, and the environmental conditions of the place where the process is being carried out.
In general, it is estimated that the process can take between 2 and 6 months to produce quality compost, depending on the factors mentioned above. For example, if a good amount of high-quality organic matter is used and proper humidity and temperature conditions are maintained, the process is likely to be accelerated and high-quality vermicompost will be obtained within 2-3 months. On the other hand, if the amount of organic matter is low and the conditions are not optimal, you may have to wait longer.
It is important to note that vermicomposting is a natural process and therefore the time it takes for vermicompost to be produced cannot be fully controlled. However, by following the proper guidelines and taking environmental conditions into account, it is possible to speed up the process and obtain quality compost in a reasonable amount of time.
How to make vermicompost tea
Yes, you can make vermicompost tea, which is a popular way to use vermicompost as a liquid plant fertilizer. Vermicompost tea is made by steeping a quantity of vermicompost – or, for that matter, worm castings – in water for a set period of time, allowing the nutrients and beneficial microorganisms in the vermicompost to dissolve into the water. Below you have a “recipe” to prepare compost tea, although if you are interested in preparing this fertilizer in liquid form we recommend the following article, where we delve into the subject in detail:
Compost tea is an essential component in organic gardening, a homemade plant supplement and soil improver that inoculates the substrate with beneficial microbes. In this post, we talk about its popularity among naturally-minded cannabis growers and tell you how to make your own actively aerated compost tea!
To make vermicompost tea, follow these steps:
- Prepare the vermicompost: Take a quantity of vermicompost (2-3 handfuls will do) and place it in a mesh bag or old sock. This will help prevent solid waste from getting into the tea.
- Fill a container with water: Fill a container with clean, chlorine-free water. You can use rainwater, well water, or distilled water.
- Soak the vermicompost: Place the bag of vermicompost in the water and soak it for 24-48 hours. Shake the bag from time to time to ensure that the nutrients are properly dispersed in the water.
- Strain the tea: After the soaking time, take out the vermicompost bag and strain the tea to remove any solid residue that may have remained.
- Use the tea: Vermicompost tea can be used immediately to water plants or stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for several days.
Vermicompost tea is a great way to provide plants with nutrients and beneficial microorganisms in a liquid, easily absorbable form. It can be applied to plants with a foliar spray or with an automatic drip irrigation system, although in both cases it will require prior filtering so as not to clog the diffusers and drippers.
Vermicompost is an efficient and sustainable alternative for the production of organic fertilizer in crops, gardens, and orchards. Its production process is simple and can be done at home with basic materials and tools. In addition, the use of vermicompost not only provides nutrients to the soil and plants but also contributes to the reduction of organic waste and the maintenance of biodiversity and soil structure.
Vermicompost is an environmentally friendly solution and an alternative to chemical fertilizers that can contaminate soil and water. Using vermicompost not only helps grow healthy plants but can also improve soil quality in the long term, which translates into benefits for the environment and human health. As you can see, it is a form of fertilization that is highly recommended for any grower, in which the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.
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