What are worm castings?
Worm castings are basically worm poop. According to reports, the castings left behind act as organic fertilizers, and vermicast is one of the best fertilizers for plant growth.
It is produced on a large scale using necessary worms on a large area and harvesting worm castings is known as vermicomposting. The best worms used for vermicomposting are Red Wigglers and European Nightcrawlers. On a large scale, they are grown in optimal conditions with food source provided at the top of the raised bed, and the worm castings are collected below without disturbing the worms.
Worms feed on soil components like organic material, decaying plant and animal remains, and small organisms like bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa , and nematodes. The material that they consume is digested to release soluble material in the worm castings.
The worm digestive tract contains bacterial flora, which can break down complex molecules like cellulose into simpler form. The castings contain a good quantity of nitrogen, phosphates, and potash in the soluble form. The castings also contain useful enzymes and even bacteria. The microbes released in worm castings have been found to be rich in microbes that increase plant growth, soil texture, and supply nutrients to the plants.
Vermicast vs. Vermicompost
What is vermicast?
What is vermicomposting?
Vermicast and Vermicompost have been used interchangeably in most places, while others have made a distinction between the two. They may both be correct! It depends on how you use the terms. There is a slight difference between the process (verb usage) and as a product (noun usage). The method of vermicomposting produces vermicast. As a product, vermicast is the worm castings in its pure form (all black). Vermicompost is a mixture of vermicast and organic matter.
What kind of worms are used for vermicomposting?
The commonly found worm in the garden is the earthworm. However, the garden worm does not like recycled material as much and would prefer regular soil. The worms used for vermicomposting are red wigglers.
Even though red wigglers are broadly classified under earthworms, in reality, there is a vast difference between the common garden earthworm and red wigglers in their color and function. The red wigglers are more efficient and produce much more worm castings than to the other species of worms, and the nutrient quality of the castings is also better.