Several years ago I used to watch a cartoon called Earthworm Jim. (Yes I'll admit I watched cartoons in college!) It was based on a video game that I never played but I guess was somewhat popular at the time. In the cartoon Earthworm Jim was a space traveling superhero worm valiantly ridding the universe of bad guys like Professor Monkey-For-A-Head and Evil the Cat. Great names for super villains don't you think? While inside his suit he could accomplish everything a normal person could. He had arms and legs and carried a laser gun. OK maybe normal people don't carry laser guns but I think you get the point. Earthworm Jim, along with the Tick (another super-silly superhero cartoon about a super strong yet dimwitted superhero dressed in blue) was just a humorous work of fiction, after all earthworms aren't superheroes right? Of course they are!
Earthworms are the superheroes of the garden. They are planet Earth's composters taking organic materials and turning them into something even better than gardener's gold, worm poop! Worm poop, also known as worm castings and vermicompost, has so many beneficial microbes inside that it is like compost on steroids. The bacteria in the castings coming out is in a much greater quantity than the material that went in and that is great news any plant lucky enough to have the castings spread near them. The castings also act as a great soil conditioner improving the moisture holding capacity of the soil. By using worm castings you are feeding the soil not the plant which is exactly what you are supposed to do. The plants take the nutrients from the soil whereas the synthetic water soluble magic blue colored water will get your plants drunk on artificial nutrients and deposit salts into the soil. Salt isn't good for plants!
I've decided to give worm composting a try. There are fancy worm composters you can purchase online through various retailers at a range of prices but there are also some inexpensive options out there. I hope you'll follow along on yet another of my gardening projects over the next couple of weeks: Vermicomposting!