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Making the Case for Castings

So, how was your dinner tonight? Good?

Good. Glad to hear it. Mine? Not shabby at all. Burritos will probably always be my favorite dinner because you can put anything in there you want. For instance, tonight’s dinner featured pico de gallo, guacamole, rice…you know, the usual burrito suspects. Though, I did have an interesting moment while enjoying what Mitch Hedberg once lovingly referred to as a “sleeping bag for ground beef”.

cute worm with a small plant sprout

All three of those things I mentioned come directly from seeds. So how do hometown herbalists or even small commercial farms manage to cultivate such excellent cuisine? Furthermore, what implications can certain items can have on a farm’s finances?

…so what if I told you the answer was worm poo?

Yes, worm poo, though we can call it “worm castings” if you want to gussy things up a bit.

Look, we know what fertilizer is. It’s arguably the single most important aspect of plant growth short of the seed itself. So why would worm castings work as opposed to mass-produced, synthetic fertilizers?

Some farms do go with synthetic fertilizers because they’re extremely high in nitrogen and inorganic phosphates, which provides quicker results. The quicker that sprout sprouts, the quicker it can get to the table, right?

Let’s hit the brakes on that idea for a second. Over longer periods of time, synthetic fertilizer can kill off the microorganisms that convert remains into tasty, tasty soil food. Worse yet, should that nitrogen reach a water source like groundwater, it can potentially make that water toxic to several other organisms…us included. So if a commercial farm is utilizing such a product, said farm runs a risk of ruining the water and their soil. Maaaaaybe not the best item for either environment or financial stability.

Worm castings, meanwhile, are more absorbent and don’t feature potentially toxic levels of nitrogen compared to their synthetic counterparts. This allows a long-term, steadier food source for the soil while not damaging other organisms in the area. Cornell University even performed a study that found worm castings can also help suppress plant diseases. Neat!

…but what does it mean financially? Why would a farmer looking to eke out a living prefer worm compost over what they could go nab at the store?

A good comparison would be the humble chicken. Those feathered folk provide several avenues for revenue: hens can lay eggs, their feathers can be used for decorative purposes and hey, most of us do like chicken tenders. Similar ideas can be applied to worms! Yes, you can sell or use the worms themselves as bait, but some entrepreneurs have managed to create facial masks from those very same castings! So by dedicating an area of their land to worms, farmers can diversify their sources of income as well as benefit their other money-making inventory.

When it comes to cultivating all of that delicious food we enjoy on a daily basis, it’s hard to top what worms can provide. If you’re a farmer, consider utilizing worm castings for your future fertilizer. Those wiggly little animals can offer big benefits to your bottom line.