Most gardeners who are familiar with organic farming practices know that worm castings are like black gold. When it comes to beneficial, organic amendments, there may be nothing more beneficial. Composting worms, otherwise known as Earthworms, are the soils "intestinal engine," feeding the entire microbial world in a complete closed-loop nutrient cycling system. They consume organic matter and transform the newly produced carbon into a product sold at high-end garden centers known as worm castings. You will always hear organic gardeners and growers raving about the benefits of worm castings. However, when asked if they are cultivating with composting worms in their soil system, most will reply, "No."
In fact, cultivating worms in your soil has additional benefits over just adding worm castings, and could ultimately save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars on buying new worm castings every year. Furthermore, you can save even more money by encouraging the worms in your soil to reproduce faster. In this article, we will show you how.
The Benefits of Live Worms in Your Soil
Composting worms, like all other organisms in the soil food web, form a symbiotic relationship with their neighbors. One of these groups of creatures that live in symbiosis with worms are mites. In order to become a true organic gardener, one must learn how to control pests without using pesticides, and a very effective way to do so is using predatory insects and predatory mites. So by encouraging composting worms to grow in our soil, we can also encourage these beneficial mites. Adding this skill set to one's IPM playbook allows the organic gardener to learn to trust and believe that mother nature will combat the plant's health issues. This gives freedom and time back to the gardener so they can focus on other things, and become a proactive gardener instead of a reactive one.
Composting worms dig and build dissolved oxygen channels and allow soil mites, especially the white springtail mite, to "hitch a ride" onto the worm's bio-film. Then, they move around the soil system working in harmony with the composting worms to break down organic matter into carbon. The more composting worms living soil gardeners have to work and continue driving the soils engine, the quicker the newly created soil life can keep up with the high nutrient demands of the plants.
Composting worms love the oils and fats that are found within the avocado and seem to prefer to "congregate" around avocados over other food sources. Therefore, we can begin to attract worms from all over the soil medium by using an organic avocado. Organic is important, because we don’t want to potentially introduce any pesticide residue into our soil, even if it’s on the avocado skin.
Here are six easy steps to implementing “Avocado Tech”:
1) Cut the avocado in half exposing the fleshy green side and the pit.
2) Move enough topsoil to allow placement of one half of the avocado in the soil, face down.
3) Do the same for the second half of the avocado.
4) Only bury the avocado halfway, exposing the skin above the soil line.
5) Lightly mist water over the avocado skin and surrounding area every other day.
6) Allow two weeks to pass without disturbing the avocado.
This will jumpstart the breeding not just of composting worms, but of all of the diverse soil microbial life a gardener needs to grow a high-end product using only mother nature to feed our soil and our plants. This will also spur the reproduction of isopods (roly polys), white springtail mites, rove beetles, Hypoaspis miles mites, and predatory mites.
One of the concerns we hear about transitioning to cultivating living soil gardening is, "How are we going to be able to afford the amount of composting worms it takes to fill a commercial market garden, or even a farm?" With these conditions, composting worms will begin to double in population every 90 days. We recommend transitioning one small section of your garden at a time, and using the surplus of worms you will create to populate the next section. Calcium sources such as Gypsum, Oyster shell flour, and eggshells, aid in speeding up this reproduction process as well. Calcium is KING when it comes to next level worm farming and vermicomposting.
There is a disconnect with some gardeners about the real power of having the nutrients they feed their plants come from soil microbes instead of synthetic salts. The living soil system relies in part on the quality of the organic matter that the microbes are breaking down. Quality inputs will always equal quality outputs. So take the plunge by starting to introduce and breed live worms in your soil, and we promise you’ll see a big difference.
If you are just starting out gardening, or if you’ve been doing it a few years but have been tilling your soil every year and using fertilizers, then it will take some time to rebuild the life in your soil. But you can speed this process up and produce giant, dense produce in your first season by breeding your own worms and supplementing with Bioflux fermented plant boost. It contains hundreds of species of bacteria and fungi that will jumpstart your transition to living soil. Or mix some Terraflux activated biochar into your soil (you can also amend it as a top dressing), and instantly increase your organic matter percentage. Just head to the Everflux store by clicking below.