Uses for Vermicompost
Vermicompost can be easily used on farms or CSA’s to grow vegetables and herbs. The following statement from a local CSA farmer who has found success using vermicompost on raised vegetable beds:
“Using vermicompost and compost tea over several seasons has improved the health and vitality of my vegetables and raspberries. Yields and the sizes of tomatoes, beans, lettuce, kale, and raspberries (to name a few) have been outstanding. This past year, I noticed that some of my broccoli plants were prematurely yellowing, and I sprayed them a couple times with compost tea. The yellowing subsided, and I continued to have a bountiful broccoli harvest until the end of the season. There is no danger of putting on too much which makes it easier than fertilizers when applying.”
Founder and Head Farmer at Blue Barrel Farm CSA
Adding vermicompost to landscaping projects can help ensure that all of the initial hard work and financial investment does not go to waste. Vermicompost will help keep plants healthier and happier, meaning that the hassle of replacing them later is less likely. Vermicompost can be used for everything from small house plants to large outdoor flower gardens to entire lawns.
“I used Soil Stewardship’s vermicompost tea last summer on a couple of flower pots toward the end of the growing season. They came back to life and lasted through our beautiful warm October. The flowers began to grow as well as the spika plant and they doubled in size! It was a joy to watch this amazing product work its way into my flowers.”
Fort Collins homeowner
Greenhouses and Nurseries
Vermicompost has been shown to help germinating seeds grow with more success and vitality. Businesses that start plants from seed can see great benefits by replacing 10-20% of the volume of their normal potting soil with quality vermicompost.
“At one of the greenhouses I worked in, we did a trial in the nursery growing Bok Choi and Parsley in straight organic potting soil, a potting soil with 10%, 20%, 30%, 40% and 50% vermicompost that we acquired from Soil Stewardship. We noticed a better seed germination in the seed trays that had vermicompost and advanced growth rates in the soil that included vermicompost. We found that the 10% mixture did well but the 20% and up ratios were even taller with thicker stalks. We surmised that the optimal cost to result ratio was the 20% vermicompost mix. That convinced me that using vermicompost was beneficial in our growing operation and we began to include it in our standard operating procedures.
I managed an organic seed production farm and included vermicompost tea applications every 10-14 days. We have a terrible problem in our Winter Squash crops with both Powdery Mildew and Squash Bugs in our area. Our neighbors announced the arrival of Squash Bugs a full month before we noticed any and we saw Powdery Mildew in the edges of our fields but never on our Squash crops. Eventually the Squash Bugs moved in but we were still able to harvest Winter Squash before their populations became overwhelming. Our neighbors never did get to harvest Winter Squash. I’m sorry that I did not keep a row as a control in our fields but was happy to have the seeds and income in total.
At the Western Colorado Community College Culinary Arts Raised Beds, we added traditional thermophylic compost to one of the raised beds and vermicompost to the bed next to it. Both beds were planted on the same day with Tyee Spinach. Both beds grew very well but we did notice slightly wider leaves and a deeper green color in the bed containing vermicompost. Both tasted wonderful but the vermicompost bed produced Spinach with more oxalic acid globuals on the surface of the leaves than what was noticed from the traditional compost bed. We’d love to do a nutritional analysis of both Spinaches but have not pursued that yet.”
Grand Junction, CO professional grower and instructor at Western Colorado Community College
Viticulture and Fruit Growing
Vermicompost is widely used on the West Coast to improve soil health leading to healthy and vigorous high value crops, such as fruit trees and wine grapes. Researchers at Ohio State University showed that using vermicompost in soil management practices can increase the populations of beneficial nematodes that prey on the nematodes responsible for Peach Replant Disease. Resistance to leaf-born diseases can also occur through regular use of vermicompost extract in the form of a foliar spray. At Soil Stewardship, we are working to bring these benefits to Colorado as well.
Many farmers in the U.S. spend thousands if not millions of dollars each year on a little soil nutrient called nitrogen. This nitrogen is regarded as highly important for good plant growth and high yields. Interestingly enough, horse manure is an excellent natural, organic source of nitrogen. Unfortunately, instead of this nitrogen going back into the soil, large amounts of it often end up in the landfill where it uselessly sits, slowly releasing gases harmful to the atmosphere.
Dealing with horse manure in an ecological and sustainable way is not as difficult as it is often thought. On-farm composting is very beneficial and easy to manage. If you do not already compost your horse manure, please consider adding this simple practice to your operation. Horse manure is too valuable to waste away in a landfill, and there are much better uses for special gift from our horses. Soil Stewardship is available to help your equine facility compost your horse manure!