Worm Farming Secrets
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Vol 14: Issue: 21 - Tuesday 19th May 2020

Hi ,

In this issue of "Worm Farming Secrets" we're looking at Worm
Casting Tea and the difference between what is referred to
as 'leachate' and true "Worm Tea". This is the first part in
a brief series focused exclusively on Worm Casting tea.

We're also answering a question about 'Effective Microorganisms'
(EM) - looking at exactly what EM's are and whether or not
these can be used to enhance a worm composting environment.

Last but not least we're answering a question related to the use
of ground up tree stumps and how suitable this material is for
worm composting.

Also, if you're interested in being a little more self-sufficient
in your life by learning practical new and fun skills, these 17+
experts can show you how to...

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All the best...

Duncan Carver

Editor: "Worm Farming Secrets"




Discover How To Grow Big Fat Composting Worms And Produce More
Organic Worm Compost Faster Than Ever Before...



Worm Castings Tea - Part I

This week we will begin our exploration of the wonderful world of
castings tea (aka 'worm tea', 'vermicompost tea', 'vermi-tea'
etc). This is a closely related topic to that of worm castings (a
subject we've certainly talked a LOT about as of late) given the
fact that castings play a vital role in the creation of good
quality worm tea, as you will soon learn.

On that note, the first important sub-topic we should probably
look at is the 'worm tea vs. leachate' issue.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a lot of misinformation out
there re: the definition of worm tea - I suspect that worm bin
manufacturers/merchants (in particular, those selling
'flow-through' systems with 'reservoirs') are largely
responsible, although there is plenty of similar info available
on the web as well.

Bottom-line, the liquid that comes out from the bottom of your
worm bin/bed is NOT worm tea - it is more accurately referred to
as 'leachate'.

The potential problem with leachate is that, while it DOES
typically contain some beneficial compounds/organisms (the more
mature your bin the better), it also can contain unstable
materials leached from partially decomposed wastes. This in
itself can be bad enough, since there are a lot of potentially
phytotoxic compounds that can be created (during anaerobic

The other issue is that since a lot of the stuff (for lack of a
more technical term) in the liquid is not yet stabilized, it also
will go anaerobic much more quickly if left to sit - thus
creating an even nastier 'tea'.

Don't get me wrong here - I'm not saying that leachate can never
be used as a sort of 'tea'.

There are in fact plenty of people who use it successfully in
this manner. What I WOULD suggest however is:

1) diluting it with non-chlorinated water (more on that in a

2) aerating it with a simple aquarium air pump, tubing and an air
stone, and

3) generally putting it to use in outdoor beds.

The last one might not be quite so critical if you follow the
first recommendations, but generally speaking, a large garden
(especially one with rich, organic soil) will be better able to
take care of any harmful compounds before they are taken up by
the plants, than say the potting soil in a houseplant pot for

I mentioned "non-chlorinated water" - the reasons for not using
water straight out of the tap should be relatively obvious. This
water has been rendered fit to drink, and obviously one of the
criteria there is an absence of microbes (pathogenic ones in
particular). I don't imagine chlorinated water would wipe out
your entire population of 'good guy' microbes in the castings
(not even close, I suspect), but why add set-backs of any sort
when you don't have to?

The good news is that chlorine can easily be removed from water -
simply letting a bucket of water sit for 24 hours will do the
trick, or you can speed up the process by aerating the water (as
described above).

Ok - now that we've established what is NOT worm tea, let's talk
about what REAL 'worm tea' actually is.

By definition, worm tea is the liquid that results from the
soaking of high quality (mature/stabilized) worm castings or
vermicompost in water.

Generally, it is recommended that this water is aerated, and
quite often other materials are added during the 'brewing'
process to improve certain attributes of the tea, depending on
your particular end use.

You certainly don't have to add anything extra - and if you are
jut starting out, it's probably not a bad idea to stick to the
basics and skip this step. As we'll discuss in one of the other
worm tea articles in coming weeks, there has actually been some
controversy regarding the 'feeding' of worm tea microbes in this
manner - in a nutshell, some feel that this can in fact increase
populations of pathogenic microbes.

Something else worth mentioning...

While I have been pretty casual thus far about my interchangeable
use of the terms castings and vermicompost (generally opting for
the former term to keep things simple), the distinction between
these terms is actually somewhat useful for this discussion.

As you may recall, vermicompost is a humus-rich material that
contains varying amounts of worm castings, along with other
decomposed or partially decomposed materials that have not passed
through an earthworm's gut.

Worm castings on the other hand are literally the 'poop' pellets
that come out of the rear end of a worm.

From a 'quality' perspective, you should generally be striving
for the highest percentage of worm castings you can achieve in
your vermicompost (remember, it is next to impossible to have
absolutely 100% castings, but you can get pretty close).

This certainly isn't set in stone though - as we'll discuss next
week, this actually depends on your end use - not all types of
plants respond the same way to different teas.

Some plants prefer teas with dominant fungal population, while
others prefer bacterial dominance. As such, a vermicompost with a
higher percentage of fungal food (such as carbon-rich 'bedding'
materials) may indeed be better for creating a tea well-suited
for certain types of plants than would pure worm castings (high
bacterial dominance).

Ok - I think we've got the basics covered.

Hopefully this overview has helped to set the stage for what
we'll be covering during the next couple of weeks.

I'm sure you'll be happy to know that next week we will be
jumping right in to the real 'meat' of the topic - looking in
more detail at how worm tea is made (including some DIY
instructions), and how to best use it.

Stay tuned! :-)

Find that interesting?

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"I am newly converted to earthworm breeding. I'm from Malaysia.
It is always interesting to read your WFS Newsletter and I am
sure, many other readers are like me, grateful to you for
benefiting from your excellent contributions. I have not however,
come across any mention on the use of EM (effective
microorganisms) in helping the growth of the earthworms.

I understand that these wonderful microbes, among other good
work, help to speed up aging of animal manure and at the same
time, break down the hard, granular goat manure which otherwise
would be too difficult for the worms to feed on. Some people I
understand, spread thinly a layer of the decomposed manure (pure)
over the bedding, as food supplement. I haven't tried this yet.
Could you comment on this, please? I'd be most obliged." ~ Bahar

Hi Bahar,

This is an interesting question.

For those of our readers unfamiliar with the term 'Effective
Microorganisms' (EM), it is actually a trademarked brand name for
various microbial inoculants used in a wide variety of
applications, including waste management.

The term was first coined by a Japanese scientist, Dr. Teruo Higa
in the early 80's, and the EM phenomenon has spread far and wide
ever since.

There is some controversy regarding the actual 'effectiveness' of
EM, especially given the fact that scientific validation is in
short supply. Dr Higa himself has admitted that there are
limitations based on the fact that it is still unknown exactly
which microbes are responsible for the beneficial effects. (see
Wikipedia link in the REFERENCES section).

I have actually dabbled in the use of EM for 'composting' myself,
by testing out a method known as 'bokashi'. The reason I use
quotation marks when referring to it as a composting method, is
due to the fact that it is not really a composting process at
all. While composting requires oxygen in order to proceed
effectively, bokashi is an anaerobic method which takes place in
a sealed system (such as a bucket with a tightly fitting lid).

What I liked about this method was the fact that it was very
easy, and surprisingly there were no foul odors to speak of (even
with things like shrimp waste being added) - it actually has a
somewhat sweet smell. This is pretty impressive for anaerobic
decomposition, which is generally responsible for any nasty odors
that can occur during 'regular' composting (and rotting in

The limitation of this method is the fact that the end product is
not a stabilized material - you can't just put it in your flower
pots as a fertilizer or soil conditioner.

Generally, a bokashi practitioner will dig the material into the
garden, or add it to a compost heap in order to complete the
decomposition process. I have actually added some materials from
one of my bokashi buckets into some worm bins to see what would
happen. In my big outdoor bin, the material remained untouched
for awhile and then was quickly processed by the worms. In my
smaller indoor system however, the anaerobic material had a
negative impact on the system - causing the bin to go 'sour' on

It is important to remember that anaerobic processes can produce
organic acids and alcohols (among other things) which probably
aren't all that great for the worms. In a larger system, the
worms can simply go elsewhere until these undesirable compounds
are broken down by aerobic microbes - but in the smaller system
this was obviously a little more difficult.

Anyway, this has become a little more long-winded than I had

Getting back to your question, Bahar - when it comes down to it,
the use of EM is really not necessary in order to speed up or
improve the vermicomposting process. Allowing wastes to decompose
aerobically (what I refer to as "aging") for a period of time is
a great way to render waste materials more worm-friendly.

EM can certainly be used to start the break down process - and
the EM mixture itself would likely be consumed readily by
composting worms - but if you are using methods like bokashi,
just keep in mind the fact that the end product might not be
consumed by the worms until it has been exposed to aerobic
microbes for a period of time.

Hope this helps!

Find that interesting?

Get immediate access to 300+ detailed Q&A's about all aspects of
successful worm composting just like the one above. Click here now...



"I would like to know your thoughts on tree stump grind as a
source of worm bedding. I know it does not have much nutrients.
My neighbor has a tree trimming business and offered it to me.
Should I check it for toxins? Thanks" ~ Susan

Hi Susan,

The long story short - wood chips, sawdust, and any related
materials (such as stump grind) are not ideal for use as worm
bedding. They are highly resistant to decomposition, but probably
even more importantly, they do not hold water very well at all.

This is a really important consideration for any bedding
material, since you not only want to avoid having moisture pool
in the bottom of your system (or pass right through in the case
of a bin/bed with drainage), but you also want to be able to
retain enough moisture in the composting mass to keep the worms
well hydrated.

Other wood-based products like cardboard/paper/newsprint are all
much better choices. They all have really high carbon-to-nitrogen
ratios and can take some time to break down (although nothing
like actual woody wastes), but they are very absorbent, thus
providing the worms with a nice habitat.

Another thing to consider - as you pointed out - is potential
toxins in the wood. Conifer woods in particular can contain oils
that can irritate or harm worms. Cedar is a prime example - and
in fact, I'd recommend that you don't even build a worm bed using
this wood, since the harmful compounds can leach out into the
bedding, resulting in worm mortalities.

All that being said...

I should point out that all hope is not lost.

If you have access to a lot of ground wood waste, I would
recommend leaving it to sit and rot outdoors for a few months. If
you also have access to manure, you could probably even enhance
the process by mixing them together. Once these ground up woody
wastes start to rot, they will be much more absorbent and will
also provide more food value for the worms.

Find that interesting?

Get immediate access to 300+ detailed Q&A's about all aspects of
successful worm composting just like the one above. Click here now...



5 Of The Worlds Leading Experts Reveal Their Most Intimate Worm
Composting Business Operations & Techniques...



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That's all for this week.


Duncan Carver



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