If you’ve begun your wormy journey to help your garden soil become richer, you may have a few questions regarding what you’ve gotten yourself into. Worm farming is one thing, but learning about their intensive and slightly confusing life cycles is another. And now, you’ve found loads of worm castings (also known as worm poop) and are likely wondering what they’re made of.
Worm castings, or the white-ish yellow bunches found within your worm soil, do contain worm cocoons. These cocoons hold already fertilized eggs, which hatch in 2 – 6 weeks depending on the type of worm laying them. The cocoons within the soil may never hatch if the soil is not of good quality.
In this article. I will provide you with detailed information on the basics of worm reproduction and the worm life cycle. Then, I’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding worm castings in regard to worm farming in your garden. Keep reading to find out whether worm castings are beneficial to your garden.
Composition of Worm Castings
Worm castings are, technically, worm poop. However, they’re unlike any other natural poop that insects or animals produce because they are rich in content that your garden needs. The organic fertilizer produced by worms – and used in vermicomposting or from which your soil benefits when you have a good population of worms living within it – is what is referred to as worm casting.
Now, there are dozens of components within a given worm casting. These include helpful bacteria and enzymes. However, some of the most garden-relevant components found in worm casting are a high concentration of the following:
In worm castings, you will also find the fertilized eggs belonging to the worms, though they won’t always hatch into more eggs. Worm castings need to be kept moist, at a suitable temperature, and in the right space for the castings to hatch into worms.
The fertilized eggs in the castings are contained in cocoons. They can remain dormant in your soil for as long as it takes for them to get into a more ideal environment. This may mean that the worm castings present in your soil are much older than the mature worms in your garden!
The Basics of Worm Reproduction and the Worm Life Cycle
Worms don’t technically lay eggs. Their eggs are found in their castings. Eggs are produced and left in the form of castings, with the fertilized eggs already within the casting. They will be gold or amber-colored and if you choose to, you can remove them or rearrange them from the bin.
The worm life cycle is unique from start to finish. This is because worms contain both male and female sex organs.
Watch the below video to see what your baby worms will look like once they hatch:
After the worm’s eggs are fertilized, the eggs will hatch from the cocoons in your casting as long as the environment is right. This means that if it is too dry, too cold, or even too hot (say you have your soil under a heat lamp or you’re sanitizing the soil), they won’t survive.
How Worm Castings Help Your Garden
Worm castings help your garden the same way that worms do because they are their source. When worms produce the castings, they’re adding nutrients to your soil. Plants need water, sunlight, and nutrients. Plants also need the following:
Each of the above nutrients is important in helping your plants grow, and an abundance of them will help your plants grow even stronger.
In particular, worm castings contain nitrogen, which gardeners may have to add to the soil artificially. Adding worms and worm castings to your garden can help enrich the soil with these nutrients and add even more, so you don’t have to change the soil as often. Rich soil is also more resilient to things like disease.
Why You May Avoid Worm Castings
You probably wouldn’t want to avoid worm castings–they have the nutrients essential to plant growth that you probably got your worms for in the first place. However, wanting to get rid of the eggs is understandable. If you already have enough worms, want to take your worms from one soil pot to another, or if you’re bin vermicomposting and have other plants, you may want to remove the eggs.
If you happened upon this article and you aren’t doing any vermicomposting but have found worm castings in your garden, consider adding it to your repertoire. Otherwise, you can remove the entire worm casting (or just the eggs) to avoid worms hatching in your garden. If you also aren’t interested in the castings, doing some sanitation will get rid of the eggs and castings alike while resetting your soil as nutrient-free.
What Do Worm Castings Contain?
Worm castings aren’t just eggs, though. They have many other components actively working to help make your soil richer and therefore enable your plants to grow stronger.
Worm castings contain bacteria, nutrients, cocoons, and enzymes that help enrich your soil. The castings are produced during vermicomposting when the worms move through your soil, processing it. Technically, worm castings are worm poop.
The worm castings contain cocoons that have worm eggs inside. This way, you can ensure you always have a fresh generation of worms helping your garden soil by providing nutrients and supporting aeration. Worms don’t live forever, and when they die, they help to enrich the soil, but it’s still important to have active worms processing the soil.
Castings are the main source of all the good stuff your worms are doing. Sure, worms move through your dirt, making it easier for water to penetrate, and your soil doesn’t become compacted, but most of us love worms for the nutrients they produce. The worms themselves may provide nutrients when they die, but they typically leave their hard work in the castings.
Your castings are mainly going to provide humus to your soil. The amount of nutrients the castings provide via the humus is difficult to match with any bagged soil. Castings contain zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and calcium.
Can You Separate Worm Eggs From Castings?
If you’ve found some castings in your garden and are excited about the benefits, you may be wondering if you can remove the eggs. Maybe you have just enough worms and are uninterested in any wigglers.
You can separate worm eggs from castings, but it may take some tools and a little precision. The eggs are the golden or tan-colored orbs within the casting, and you can remove them with tweezers and a magnifying glass. However, you may not get all of them.
Again, the castings are the cocoons in which the eggs are sitting. They also are the hard work of your worms, producing extra nutrients for your soil. If you want to separate the eggs from the castings, it would be worth it to keep as much of the casting as you can to ensure your garden is getting the soil benefits.
The video below explains one method for separating the worms from the eggs:
If it feels like a tedious process, it’s because it is. Like all things on earth, worms want to be able to easily reproduce and keep their species population high. Even if you do separate most of the eggs, you’ll likely still leave a few. Remember, though; worms are extremely beneficial for your garden!
Worm castings do contain eggs, though these may be quite difficult to see. If you are not interested in having more eggs hatching in your garden, you might have to pick the eggs out.
The eggs are usually tan in color and extremely small. However, you want to avoid taking the entire casting out because the casting has a lot of the important nutrients you likely started vermicomposting for. Hopefully, this article has answered most of the questions you might have had regarding worm castings.