In addition to traditional composting, which I have written several posts about, there is also another form of composting which is even better, and is so easy to do that almost anyone at almost any age and physical ability level could do it successfully. That is vermicomposting, or worm composting.
For the past several months I have been contemplating either building or purchasing a worm composting bin. I had a worm bin set up at my last house before I moved and I really miss the benefits of having it around.
Worm castings or vermicompost is an extremely beneficial fertilizer for gardens and house plants. Many gardeners will purchase worm castings to add to their garden beds each season to give their plants what they need to achieve their full potential.
Many growers have found that it shortens the germination cycle for new plants, increases yield on their crop overall, and does it all while protecting the plants from disease. As if that wasn't enough, worm castings are also chemical-free. This makes it an especially attractive option for organic growers, specifically.
An Ohio State University study found that worm castings have a substantial effect on the yield of crops. They found that increased yield was due to plant growth regulators produced by microorganisms within the castings. In short, the castings have billions of tiny, healthy bacteria within them that contribute to the rapid germination and growth of plants.
In addition to the beneficial microbes, the USDA says that worm castings are "several times higher in nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium than topsoil." The nutrients in all-natural worm castings are substantial and they provide the perfect mix that plants need.
Worm castings have the ability to protect your plants from both diseases and pests without the use of harmful chemicals. This study from Cornell University found that earthworm castings can stop many common plant diseases.
According to the study, castings "can colonize a seed's surface and protect it from infection by releasing a substance that interferes with the chemical signaling between the host and the pathogen." These pathogens are a common issue for many greenhouse growers when attempting to grow plants indoors.
Worm castings help form a protective barrier at the microbial level, that will keep your plants growing even if they're exposed to potentially harmful diseases.
In addition to protecting against disease, castings also help keep pes