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The Poop Scoop, Worm Leachate - If You Must
January 19, 2013
If You Must Use Worm Leachate
Hello again everyone. Are you as excited as I am about spring coming? Sometimes I get so excited I wet my plants! Ha HA! old joke.
Which brings me to this, "Worm Leachate".
As I mentioned spring is coming and it'll be here before we know it. Some will start using their worm tea right away on their starter plants but I want to address something that I address quite frequently in my newsletters and in emails. I'm sorry for sounding like a broken record but this comes up so many times and we'll probably never see an end to this discussion. The difference between worm tea and leachate.
I'm just going to give you the link to this. It's leachate vs worm tea. You can read this for yourself if you haven't.
In this addition of the Poop Scoop I want to talk to those that insist on using the worm leachate, the juicy juice at the bottom of the bin. Most of you know that I'm a BIG proponent of NOT using this liquid at the bottom of a worm system. I speak from experience and from the readings of other "big names" in the worm farming industry.
However, don't misunderstand me when I say to stay clear away from this stuff. There are some that do have success at using the leachate. Some plants do well from the leachate and others will get quite sick. It really depends on what stage your compost is in at the time and what type of plants you're using it on.
I can't tell you what plants benefit from this leachate no matter what stage the leachate is in but maybe some of you can tell me.
As I have stated, many times, there are good and bad microbes in every worm bin, compost pile, and teas. In fact, there are good and bad microbes in some of the best worm tea that anyone can brew. It's all because life has a way of preserving itself.
These bad microbes play an important role in life. There is a fungus that lives in our gut called "Candida". This is what we would call an unbeneficial microbe. But is it really.
It's job is to consume us from the inside-out when we die. The problem that people have is the over abundance of this fungus. It feeds on sugars and starches and many antibiotics. It starts to show itself in the form of flaking skin like dandruff or psoriases or just a small patch of red, itching flaky skin somewhere on the body.
I'm not trying to gross anyone out. I just want to show you how every living thing has a purpose in life. We just need to learn how to control it. Like I said, Candida will help to consume our bodies and return us back to the ground. We just need to give it the proper environment to thrive (its favorite food like sugars and starches).
Which leads me to the juice in the bottom of the worm system (worm leachate). Your worm bin system, no matter what type it is, has to have oxygen flowing through it. Without this oxygen your worms will die and your beneficial microbes will die as well. No oxygen means that unbeneficial and/or bad microbes will thrive in order to fulfill its purpose in life which would be to return the decaying matter and worms into a reusable state for something else other than the benefit of plants.
Now, why is the leachate more than likely not good to use?
As I stated, the good microbes need to have oxygen and a food source in order to thrive. The bottom of a worm system has NO OXYGEN!
The liquid is just sitting there and is stagnate, There is no plant life growing out of it nor is there any bubbling of oxygen taking place. In fact it's just sitting there and growing more unbeneficial microbes.
But also there does contain the good microbes a well. Now, bear with me, because I know this is a difficult process to understand and it's probably the most misunderstood concept of worm farming. The soil food web is all about a balance in nature. We control that balance in our gardens when we use natural methods. Nature itself does this in a lush forest or even in your backyard.
Some gardeners can get away with using the leachate because they have created an environment in their garden that is unsuitable for these bad microbes to populate or thrive in any way. They're still there in small amounts, lying dormant, and waiting for the right environment to live and populate and fulfill its purpose.
Some gardeners can become too consumed with other things besides their garden OR the weather can instantly change (too hot, too dry, too cold, too wet, etc...) causing the the bad microbes too awaken or metastasize and begin to cause diseases or eat away at the plant.
So you can see that if you use the leachate then you use it at your own risk. You just don't know what you have in the mysterious liquid.
So if you must use the leachate...
A worm system contains layers of matter like a lasagna.
1. Top is fresh food (respectively)
2. Next is decaying food and castings. This is sour and contains the good but mostly the bad microbes that break down the food for the worms.
3. Next is the castings which is your beneficial microbes along with few bad microbes.
4. Next is the bottom which contains the liquid worm leachate. This holds all the liquid that has passed through all these layers and has picked up the good, the bad, and the ugly. This is what you're using on your plants.
Now here is what I recommend if you must or insist on using the worm leachate.
1. Do not use the leachate if it has a sour or pungent smell.
2. Make sure that your compost is completely or close to being composted so that it is 95-99% worm castings. You may have to stop feeding your worms for a week.
3. When using the worm leachate, dilute it at a ratio of 10:1. This will reduce your risk of killing the plant but still delivering the good microbes.
4. If you're unsure of what your leachate contains then throw it out or just use it in a small area of your garden.
That's all. I don't want anyone to think that I am absolutely against using the leachate. If it is working for you then keep doing what you're doing and don't change anything because you heard it from me. I have gambled with it before and lost. I don't want to go through that again.
I honestly don't know why anyone wouldn't want to brew the worm tea as it really goes hand-in-hand with the castings. I try to tell everyone that if they are producing the worm castings then they also need to be making the worm tea. It's so simple and it'll completely transform your garden even if you're already successful at growing luscious plants and fruit. It's like giving an obnoxious and energetic person a pot of coffee :)
Anyway, use the leachate at your own risk and if you're just starting out in worm farming then just throw it out altogether. I hope this was helpful to you and I hope that your planting season this spring is fun and rewarding.
All the best,
P.S. If you haven't learned how to brew the worm tea. You'll be amazed at how simple it is.
P.P.S. For those that are following me and my Foreclosure Property Clean Up biz then I uploaded a new video about scrapping metal and profiting from the extra cash that homeowners have left behind for us.
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