Worm Power

This past Christmas I receives a box of Worm Power Shower from my sister. I’d seen Worm Power in the Harris Seed catalog but I’d never tried it.

Worm Power Shower

Worm Power Shower

Worm Power is an organic fertilizer that’s worm castings – the nice word for worm excrement. It’s made through a process called vermiculture or vermicomposting. Instead of allowing only bacteria and fungi to break down materials into compost, worms are used to speed the process and also enrich the resulting product. Their movement through the material mixes the compost and their eating breaks down the materials faster.

You can do your own vermiculture if you’re interested. A great book describing how to do it is Worms Ate My Garbage by Mary Appelhof and Mary F. Fenton. I haven’t tried it but the process seems pretty easy. It’d be a cool project for kids or for school groups. You could make some compost and learn about worm biology in the process.

But back to Worm Power. This company in Avon NY is affiliated with a dairy and uses manure and worms to make the Worm Power. The castings are odorless and the levels of fertilizer in them is low enough that you’re unlikely to cause any fertilizer burn. You can purchase boxes of Worm Power casings or get them in small pouches to make worm casting tea.

Worm Power Tea - storing it in an iced tea jug might not be the best idea!

Worm Power Tea – storing it in an iced tea jug might not be the best idea!

My Christmas gift was a box of the pouches to make casting tea. After soaking the pouch in water for 24 hours the product really does look like tea. I’ve used it on some of my houseplants and seedlings for the garden and they appear to have responded well to it. Also, after brewing the tea, the pouch can be cut open and the castings used as a top-dressing for potted plants.

Worm Power seems to be a good product but there are a couple of issues that I have with Worm Power and the Worm Power Shower packets in particular. Each pouch makes one gallon of casting tea that needs to be used within 4 days – I would imagine all kinds of things would start growing in the tea after 4 days! I have no problem using a gallon of tea but if you only have a few houseplants or one pot on the deck, this would be a lot of fertilizer to use.

The biggest issue for me is the cost. A box of Worm Power Shower that makes 5 gallons of tea costs over $12. I could get enough MiracleGro to last many years for that price. I’m not knocking the company – I’m sure the price is fair for what they’re offering. But for me it’s just too much for a weak fertilizer. If I used it just for my houseplants, I’d go through 5 gallons in a little over a month during the summer. And if I used Worm Power on outdoor potted plants – forgetaboutit – the 5 gallons wouldn’t even fertilize them all one time! I’ll be using up the pouches I have but from that point on, I’ll be going back to MiracleGro for my houseplants and outdoor potted plants.

But I haven’t given up on Worm Power. The Harris Seeds web site mentions that you can mix Worm Power with potting mix to act as a safe and slow release fertilizer. A 3 pound bag of Worm Power can be added to 15 quarts of potting mix. I like this idea. When I’m growing transplants for the garden, I struggle a little with fertilizing them. I always wonder if I’m fertilizing too much or too little and I know my tendency is to fertilize too little. Worm Power would solve the fertilizing issue in trays of transplants. It’s too late for this season but maybe I’ll give it a try next year.

Worm Power’s an interesting product. It makes a great gift and conversation starter for a gardener. For the right people in the right situation and for those who will only use organic products, it could be the fertilizer for them to use. For me, I have too many plants for it to be practical.

When it comes to growing transplants, it might be just the answer to fertilizing that I’ve been looking for. But then again, adding some Osmocote to the soilless mix might do the same thing for a fraction of the cost. Who knows? I’ll decide next January!

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