18.8.11

Collecting Earthworm Castings

Earthworms tunnel though soil, mixing top soil with subsoil allowing lots of air and moisture to pass through. They improve porosity and contribute nutrients. In short, earthworms create a healthy environment for plants.

"earthworms---the intestines of the soil" - Aristotle (about 330 B.C.)

  Earthworm Castings are the organic material that have been digested by earthworms. They are enriched with nutrients and microorganisms and are considered excellent soil conditioning material.

earthworm castings

Since worm castings are very rich for plants, I collected several pails and applied generously on my new garden beds last month.

earthworm castings

Earthworm castings can be purchased or harvested from worm bins. It may take several months for the worms to digest the contents in the worm bins and eventually produce nutritious worm castings. I took the short cut. Actually there are worm castings all over the ground under the rain trees just in front of my house. I scraped off just the top inch of the soil which consisted of worm castings and partially decomposed leaves. The top soil was so rich, I felt as if I was collecting gold. In return, I threw in some of the clay soil that I dug out from my garden. They will slowly but surely turn to 'gold' too.

earthworm castings

If you wish to collect them, you will need to know how they look like so I am including the photo above. The worm castings are like little out-of-shaped balls, less than 1 cm in diameter. Do note that these castings have been around for a long time, exposed to rain and shine so they do not look anything like fresh worm poop.

Don't be surprised if your worm castings collection come with some weed seeds.

wall planting flower bed

The new garden beds about 6 weeks after earthworm castings application.

red Ruellia elegans

A closer view of red Ruellia with a white butterfly fluttering around it. I do rear earthworms but not in the bins. They roam free in the garden, encountering all sorts of dangers, meeting with predators like centipedes and birds. On some days when it rains continuously, the earthworms suffer from breathing difficulties. They breathe through their skin and must stay wet and slimy for oxygen to pass through them. However, too much water will drown them. Just for today, why not appreciate these little but invaluable creatures who risk their dear lives to create a healthy environment for our greens? There must be a reason why earthworms do not have eyes, ears nor limbs but come with 5 'hearts'...

30 comments:

  1. learn something new every day i knew they left somethign behind but never knew what to look for before. very cool

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  2. Maybe I can sell my collection of worm castings in internet.

    That mus be a good idea.

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  3. That garden wall and plantings is lovely. Th Ruellia is very pretty.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

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  4. When I see worms in my soil I know it is good soil. I didn't know what worm castings look like so thanks for the picture. With these worms hard at work you will have very fertile soil!

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  5. I learned things from your post today. I did not know what the castings looked like and that centipedes eat them. I am glad you posted this. Your wall planting is lovely.

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  6. My worms not eaten by the birds are free to roam as well. I have toyed with the idea of having a worm bin and may still do it...

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  7. Is this the same 'natural' worms? Can remember as kid would take a bunch of ducklings in search or worms with cangkul and can see their excitement how they pulled the worms out of the soil.

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  8. I mean natural worms refer to wild earth worms. They come with 5 'hearts'?

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  9. Great post! I also know they are beneficial, but never knew about scooping castings!

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  10. Clever idea to recycle your clay soil with the enriched soil. I've seen casts in the lawn when it rains, but they look like mounds of spaghetti.

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  11. I'm thinking of vermicomposting someday since I read that their castings are one of the best organic fertilizers. My only problem is that I would get squeamish just looking at wriggling worms...LOL

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  12. I teach composting, and we often have vermicomposting demonstrations. I have not made the plunge to start a worm bin, as of yet. I would have to have one in the basement or garage because of our winter temps, however. The nutritious castings can't be beat...

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  13. I never knew this!
    Really interesting, and thank you so much for sharing.
    Your photographs here are wonderful.

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  14. I agree - very interesting post. Thanks for the tutorial.

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  15. Well I learn something new all the time from blogs. I'll have to keep my eye out for some.

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  16. What an informative and interesting post! I enjoyed it very much.
    Blessings, Beth

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  17. I love worms!! They are the most valuable thing int he garden. When we fisrt moved in the soil was like rock. I amended and amended with cow and chirchen maure from my parents farm. One day when I was planting I saw worms!! I was estatic!!! i was so happy to see them. I remember my brother in law stopped by that day and he looked at me like i was crazy!!LOL
    *hugs*deb

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  18. Interesting info! When we were young, my siblings and myself would wait for the worms to come out of their home, in pools of water outside my house after a heavy downpour. We thought it was strange and cute that they would come out to "swim", we did not know anything about it back then! :)

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  19. Thanks for sharing, One. No sign of castings in my garden though. Talking about new beds...mine is waiting for me to get into action, but the sun's so hot these days! (Excuses, excuses, I know)
    Rosie

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  20. Hmmm, I am doing the same thing as well... I just collect them from the hills near my house...

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  21. just like Solitude Rising, i turned squeamish too with earthworms, caterpillars, and pupa, reason why i might not be able to farm butterflies. But i did not see the earthworm castings in your photos as little piles of soft-molten pebbles. The castings i always see here in the farm under the fruit trees and in decomposing organic matters are very different. Maybe i should post their photos and link here. At the moment i don't have photos yet. But our earthworms are not the African nightcrawlers used in vermicomposting. Ours are the native inhabitants of our soil, been there already, God knows who put them there.

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  22. Dear One, This is a very informative posting that I enjoyed enormously. I love the wall behind your new garden! Beautiful. P. x

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  23. This is an educational post. Thank you for sharing. I am beginning to appreciate earthworms more than ever before.

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  24. I love it!!! That is so interesting. Everytime I find worms in the garden, I am happy. I know they're doing a good job.

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  25. Such an interesting and informative post! I also loved your red Ruellia. :)

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  26. Yeap, earthworms are the natural inhabitants of our garden soil here.

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  27. Thanks for sharing so informative post! Now i know hwo to find them! ahhaha...

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