Posted: Today at 14:02
The liquid that drains from a vermicomposting system can be called whatever you want. I call it leachate as it has drained down through decomposing organic matter. It’s definitely NOT the same thing as vermicompost/castings tea.
When a system (whether stacking, single-compartment flow-through, or regular plastic tub with drain holes) DOESN’T produce leachate this shouldn't be viewed as a bad thing. IMHO this is actually what we should be aiming for! I’d much rather conserve my nutrients and produce a top notch vermicompost than be constantly collecting run-off from my systems.
Vermicompost/castings tea is created when you submerge high quality vermicompost in water (preferably not straight from the tap) and either let it sit and steep or vigorously aerate it.
Leachate CAN be used as a liquid “fertilizer” of sorts, but the quality will be highly variable – depending to a large extent on how old the system is and how well maintained it is. Liquid coming from mature vermicomposting system that has been well maintained will likely going to be much better quality than a brand new worm bin operated by someone who is not all that familiar with the fundamentals of vermicomposting.
Because the material the liquid is draining from will be at varying levels of decompostion (and aerobicity), there can be all manner of different compounds (some of them potentially phytotoxic or worm-toxic) being added to the “tea”.
I recommend diluting any liquid that comes from the bottom of a worm bin – and potentially even aerating it for a period of time before use. I would also recommend only using it in your garden (vs small potted plants) just to be on the safe side.
Nevertheless i have achieved good results with worm leachate and can clearly see the positive impact it had on the plants i used it on but
when i started to brew “proper worm tea” using pure undiluted worm castings and molasses in the process i was blown away by the results.
In my humble opinion there can be no doubt that a freshly brewed worm tea is clearly much more beneficial for plants and soil than any run off liquid from even the best of worm farms.
Making worm tea does NOT need to be complicated!
Here’s how simple my tea was: fill a 5 gallon bucket with rain water and toss in 15 oz of castings(3 oz of vermicompost per gallon.) Keep it near the front of the house where I will walk by it a few times during the day. Leave a stick in the bucket and whenever I walk by, give it a good swirl to add oxygen. Viola!!! Wormcompost tea in a couple of days. I have also placed the compost in a cloth bag, and even a nylon stockings. Then dunk the bag repeatedly into the water.The vigorous dunking not only helped to get lots of ‘good stuff’ out of the vermicompost and into the water, but it also helped to aerate the mix.
Now for a my tried and tested approach.I do consider myself a bit of a worm tea guru.
Here is a basic supply list:
- High quality vermicompost / worm castings. 3 oz of vermicompost per gallon.
- Some type of permeable bag – muslin bags or old tights
- Aged water – if you are using tap water you should let it sit for a day or two so as to remove the chlorine. Preferably, use some rainwater or pond water if you have some on hand.
- A bucket 5 gallon.
- A basic aquarium air pump and tubing – an airstone will help, but it’s not vital
- a source of simple sugars – I use molasses (1 oz molasses per gallon.) and it works very well. This is used to help increase the population of beneficial microbes in the mixture
- One hand full of materials like quarry dust/rock dust, kelp etc can apparently help to boost populations of the ‘good’ microbes, while adding some additional nutrients to the mix. I just use a hand full of Quarry dust or fine river sand if i run out of dust.
I plug in my air pump ( powered by a stack of waggon batteries and charged with a very little wind turbine that i have knocked up at the top of my garage.) to start aerating the tea. I will likely leave it going for 24 hours or so. Then use it on the garden either through a watering can or a spray leaf feed.
The results will blow you away.Better, Greener, and Cheaper than any bought feeds. Magic stuff.