Raising worms for their full range of benefits pays off year round. But if there is one season the home gardener can especially rely on their black gold in, it’s spring.
After many months of cooler weather and sleepy worm behavior, things start picking up. Spring awakens cocoons full of baby worms and new life is everywhere you look. All of your over-wintered vermicompost is ready to harvest and there are plenty of ways to use it!
Spring Worm Composter’s Checklist
With the growing daylight and bird-song filled breezes to motivate your work, spring is a great time to focus on the finer details of your vermicomposting. Yep, spring cleaning time. Even the worm bin deserves a freshening up once in a while!
Keeping all your tools and materials in top condition will pay off in your time and in the health of your worms. Check off each task as you complete them (in any order).
- Harvest “finished”, over-wintered worm bins and trays. Not sure how? Check out our article on how to easily harvest black gold worm compost.
- Check pH meters, thermometers, and moisture meters. Replace as needed
- Check hand rake tines and scraper edge. Replace as needed.
- Start new worm bins with divided colonies and fresh bedding.
- Order replacement red wigglers for delivery if your herd did not survive winter.
- Check any heating elements. Clean, and store until next cold season.
- Take your time.
- Use a designated container for all your worm composting supplies.
- Use garden materials cleared from beds to add microbes and organic matter to your habitats.
Worm Composts’ Work in the Spring Garden
Rising temperatures release the grip of ice in the soil before plentiful rains come and saturate the earth again. Ground-dwelling creatures rise to the surface and create underground tunnels for air, water, and nutrients. New life begins. Roots seek food, hungry for energy.
When roots find and use nutrients in the soil from worm compost, they have the building blocks and protection they need for healthy growth. Worm compost enhances the vigor of all you grow throughout the entire spring season.
Luckily, there are many ways to incorporate that goodness into your landscape care. Consider which of these you’ll try as you plan your gardening projects this month.
Worm Compost Form and Function
The versatility of vermicompost shows up in the many ways it is used to jump-start the spring garden.
Soil Amendment: In this application, varying amounts of worm compost are mixed right into existing soil. The processed organic matter improves the structure, drainage, aeration, nutrient balance, and microbial activity of your soil. It is no wonder plants respond as dramatically as they do.
Top dressing: Vermicompost laid over existing soil acts both as a mulch and a slow-release fertilizer. With each rain, nutrients are washed into the soil where they remain safe from harsh sunlight or evaporating winds.
Worm Compost Tea: A solution of water and worm compost left to “steep” and grow a dense microbial population. It is used as a drench or sprayed as a form of protection, fertilizer, and soil enhancer. Curious to learn more? Check out our article on Worm Compost Tea?
Seed Starting Mix: A loose mixture including about three equal parts: worm compost, moisture retaining material, and aeration and drainage material. It gives seeds the best start.
Potting Mix: Heavier than seed starting mix. It is a combination of organic materials such as water-retaining coco coir, perlite for aeration and drainage, sand, wood chips, compost, and more. You can add to a less expensive bagged mix to create your own boosted version. A full third of your mix can be worm compost if you’d like. Though, far less is needed for amazing results.
Use worm compost to grow these spring sure-things:
● Peas, beets, carrots, lettuces, kales: For these, use worm compost as a soil amendment rather than a tea that can splash onto edible parts. Loosen the soil and evenly incorporate your worm compost. Spread the soil smooth and sprinkle or plant seeds as required. Gently press into the soil and water thoroughly.
● Peppers, eggplant, tomatoes: You can start these plants from seeds indoors. Prep and moisten seed starting mix. Need some pointers? Our article on How to Make Seed Starting Mix will guide you. Fill shallow seed starting containers. Then, follow individual package directions for planting depth. Cover with plastic wrap until sprouts emerge. Keep moist and in full sun. Transplant when temperatures allow.
● Spring onions: Use potting mix to make pulling onions for dinner a breeze. Fill a pot with your pre-made worm compost potting mix. Evenly space onion sets around the perimeter and inside the middle. Every 6 inches is best but they can handle being closer if needed. Push each one at into place at the depth of ½ inch. Pat down the dirt and water until the soil is saturated.
● Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages: Cold tolerant transplants love a worm compost fertilizer-boost to ward off transplant shock. Dig a hole twice the size of your transplant root mass. Sprinkle compost into the bottom of the hole to encourage root growth. Gently fill in and add more compost along the way. Top off with regular soil and water well. (You can also use this method for any new planting.)
● Ornamental plants, flowers: A long drink of worm compost tea is a very effective way to quickly revitalize and energize foliage and flowers. As more flowers bloom, more beneficials come into your yard and the ecosystem becomes restored.
● Trees and shrubs: Spraying trees and shrubs with worm compost tea has been shown to protect from various ailments, diseases, and pests. Try to spray on a calm day when rain is not in the forecast.
● Lawns: Widespread application of a tea using a hose attachment greens your lawn and improves the health of the soil beneath. Your lawn becomes thicker and more resilient.
Spring into Action
Spring is the best time of year to make things new and prepare for great potential. Have you already been successful using worm compost in your spring garden? Tell us about it! Share your experience in the comments below. And now that you have even more specific ways to use your worm compost, pick one to try. Enjoy the abundance of your rewards all season long.