Hey, this is pretty cool! After having read a few articles on the seed germination benefits of worm castings, I decided to do a side by side comparison between vermicompost (dug from my ‘worm pit’) and regular seed starter mix. Referring to the pic (click to enlarge) the bottom row are seeds that I planted using my vermicompost and the top row are in the seed starter mix. Starting from left to right, I have the heirloom tomato Arkansas Traveler, Catalonia Chicory, and Arugula.
I planted all these seeds at the same time 10 days ago, and I was careful to use equal amount of seeds for each variety and to plant at the same depth. Now granted I planted these in rather cool weather, but all things being equal, there is a clear outperformance of germination in the seeds sown in the vermicompost. Also on this go around, I planted several other varieties of seeds (all in the vermicompost) and they are all doing very well. I did mix the vermicompost to the seed starter mix so that the consistency would be “light and airy,” which will allow the delicate seedlings roots to get oxygen and push through the soil easily. Plain vermicompost might allow the seeds to germinate faster, but the consistency is a little too heavy by itself.
I planted heirloom tomatoes: Sungold, Isis Candy, Kellogs Breakfast, Anna Russian, Black Krim, and Bloody Butcher. I also planted mustard greens, herbs, okra, and several varieties of pepper. All of these are sprouting very well.
There are theories that worm castings contain plant hormones (one being auxin) that aid in seed germination and plant growth. However, there is a concentration level of castings (over 20%) at which it is no longer advantageous and might be harmful.
If you are a gardener or nursery that grows your plants from seed, I think it is well worth the effort to produce worm castings to aid in germination. I think it will be especially advantageous for hard to germinate seeds, and also for rare or expensive seeds. I plan to do more experimentation with hard to germinate seeds, and I encourage you to do your own trials. Hey, I wonder how this would work for stimulating roots in plant cuttings? Hmm!
If you are not at a stage to produce your own castings, you might want to consider this product; FREE SHIPPING – Nature’s Big Bud Worm Castings Premium 100% Organic Liquid Plant Food Tea Fertilizer 1 Gallon