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Spilling the Tea on Worm Tea

worm tea

When it comes to worm farming there is nothing better than the liquid that we harvest that provides a rich source of nutrients and beneficial microbes for our garden soil. It is, however, a topic that can be a bit confusing due to the terminology that is sometimes used.

To put it very simply, there are various ways that you can collect and utilize the liquid produced by worms working away in a worm farm

Worm ‘wee’ is a term often used by worm growers to describe the liquid that is shed from a worm farm as it breaks down organic materials such as kitchen scraps. Worms need moisture to keep their skin in good condition, but they also excrete water with various nutrients dissolved in it, much like human urine. The worm ‘wee’ gradually drips from the bottom of the trays and is a very concentrated source of nutrients that generally needs to be diluted with water before it can be used on your garden. A good rule of thumb is about 1 part worm ‘wee’ to 10 parts water, in which case you end up with something that looks like weak tea (before any milk is added).

Worm ‘leachate’ is a term that is often used to refer to the liquid that is produced if we add water to the top of a worm farm and then collect what comes out the bottom of the worm farm. This water may be rainwater that finds its way into your worm farm, or it may be water you add from a watering can or hose. As the water percolates through the worm farm, it collects worm ‘wee’ and the finer particles from worm castings. Leaching the good stuff from your worm farm is a great way to harvest nutrients and humus that can go straight onto your garden. We find that pouring a ten-litre watering can through a Tumbleweed worm farm will give you a worm ’leachate’ that is ready to use on your garden.

Worm ‘tea’ is a term that we find confusing as different worm farmers use the term for different things. Some use it to refer to the ‘wee’ or ‘leachate’ that we describe above, while other worm farmers create a very specific worm ‘tea’ by adding a sugar source such as molasses and creating a brew, using either the ‘wee’, ‘leachate’ and/or castings to which extra water is also added. The worm ‘brew’ (let’s call it) is often then aerated using an aquarium pump. The oxygen this introduces to the worm ‘brew’ creates an explosion in the growth of beneficial microbes, further enhancing the liquid that is created. To us at least, this brewing process is a good reason to call this substance worm ‘tea’. 

Whatever terms we use to describe the liquid organic fertilisers that we can create from our worm farms, the fact is they provide a free and very well-balanced plant tonic that is all organic.

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