Home gardening tips and tricks are in no short supply these days. Whether you are doing a simple google search for ‘how to grow vegetables successfully’ or you visit the garden shop for a packet of seeds and you end up leaving with a variety of stuff (soil mix, soil treatment, plant booster and fertilizer) and so much advice that you wish you had a notebook! Then you are ready to plant but the odour of the soil treatment causes you to ponder on that advice your friend gave you the other day “…you are what you eat”. We must understand that agro-shops are businesses and increased sales is good business for them. The main challenge, however, is the variety of inputs you need to achieve a healthy growing plant. It is very difficult to find any product out there that would supply an all-in-one effect to your garden.
Vermicompost, however, seems to be just perfect for the home gardener. Vermicompost is essentially recycled organic waste, derived through the actions of earthworms and beneficial microbes. Through this symbiotic relationship between these organisms, essential plant nutrients, plant growth regulating compounds and beneficial microorganisms are returned to your soil. Vermicompost also has the ability to inhibit the effect of certain soil-borne pathogens that are commonly associated with root rot and dieback. Vermicompost when used as a foliar drench, supplies soluble nutrients and help retard certain pests and diseases that often affect plant foliage. As a home gardener you have total control over the quality of your vermicompost and how you dispose of your organic waste, therefore your trips to the garden-shop may be fewer and more specific. If you are considering growing your food organically then vermicomposting is one of your best options. It is important to note that compost richness is dependent on what you put in.
If you are not religiously organic but still want to use vermicompost, then your nutrient application rates should be reduced. Vermicompost is also an excellent source of organic matter for your soil. Organic matter improves water and nutrient retention, soil structure and porosity. It is also a rich source of food for soil microbes. Vermicompost can be easily incorporated into your potting mixtures or even your garden beds. It is highly effective at low concentrations, thereby allowing it to be very ‘elastic’ economically speaking.
In the cover photo, we have on display a few commonly consumed crops that we have grown using vermicompost and vermicompost tea. These plants responded very positively and what is most notable is that the only additional agro-input used was Epsom salt for improved magnesium and sulphur.