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Swede Lake Vermiculture & Castings

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From Complete Lawn Devestation to a New Robust Lawn in Less and 8 Weeks

by The Incredible SLV Staff on 09/29/12

"Holy Crap" is an understatement when it comes to words to describe the benefit of using our worm castings (Empowered Earth) to accelerate the replacement of my lawn after my wife and I mistakenly applied Roundup thinking we were using a general broad leaf killer.  On a rare day in Early August I gave in to using chemicals to rid my lawn of at least two to three gazillion dandelions.  Thinking we were using 2-4D, we mistakenly used Roundup.  To make matters worse, we applied Roundup at ten times the suggested strength.  COMPLETE TERROR!

Refer to my related article on the Pics & TidBits section and scroll down to article.

We didn't know what to do, but we knew that to restore our showplace lawn would be expensive.  We bit the bullet and purchased 1100 plus pounds of "Sun-N-Shade seed, and rented the necessary seeding/aerator equipment and the tractor to which it was attached.  It took 8 hours to criss cross the three plus acres to assure complete seeding.  We were thankful that we had our own well and pressure pump to apply the water which we desperately needed during the draught we were experiencing. 

Will it Work?  Will it take before Fall?  We didn't know and would just have to wait and see.

After about six days from seeding we made arrangements to use an incredible applicator to apply our castings, already bagged and ready.  We decided to apply the castings to our front lawn, west pasture/lawn and west boulevard and only a portion of our east pasture/lawn and none on the east boulevard. 

You can see the results from my Pics & TidBits section (link above).  At first, within the first two weeks, we were questioning the results.  However, grass was growing.  Watering and more watering became our discipline.  After 3 weeks from seeding, the difference between the castings and non-castings portions were visible.  And, after 5 weeks from applying the castings, the difference was very visible.  The different areas appeared to be weeks (not days) apart. 

Indeed, this near tragic error became an expensive experiment.  However, the results definitely proved the efficacy of  using pure worm castings (not expensive chemicals) to accelerate the complete restoration of a desolate lawn to a robust lawn in a greatly shortened period. 

Holy Crap!  Worm poop is a good idea!





High BRIX Produce for 2 to 4 times Better Nutrition

by The Incredible SLV Staff on 09/29/12

How can you be sure that what you are paying for your fruits and veggies  provides you with the nutrients you think you are getting.  The good news is that there is a way for you to know, it is simple and inexpensive.  You can measure the quality with a BRIX refractormeter,  Read about BRIX in my Pics & TidBits page (and scroll down) and/or Google BRIX meters.  There's tons of information available. 

Using a BRIX meter, we have shown that applying Empowered Earth castings to prepare the soil and to aid growth can greatly increase the BRIX level. We compared a number of fruits and veggies, with and without castings, and the produce with castings were typically two to four points higher, the difference from "poor" and "average" to "good" and "excellent".  Also, the produce that had been watered with "casting tea" were literally "off the chart.



The Benefits of Castings

by The Incredible SLV Staff on 08/05/11

Hello everyone, thanks for reading my blog once again!

In the last post I explained how worm castings help in a "big picture" way by improving the soil ecosystem itself.  In this post I will give you the more conventional benefits of worm castings.  There are so many benefits that I will probably have to do a second post sometime in the future to fill in ones that I miss!

What are the benefits of worm castings?

  • Our worm castings are all-natural and chemical free.  They also have no odor and are completely safe for people and animals (they're even edible).
  • They contain many beneficial macro and micro nutrients that your plants need, and they are in a form plants can take in immediately.
  • Because of their shape, castings aerate and loosen the soil.  This greatly increases root growth and health.
  • Castings contain a great variety of microorganisms (see the last blog post for explanation).
  • The worms naturally deposit a film of oil around each casting that ensures a slow release of nutrients which extends the nutritional benefits of the castings as well as impeding nutrient burn on the plant.  Another benefit of the oil is that the nutrients will not be washed away.
  • Castings naturally absorb and hold water, lowering the need for watering.
  • Adding castings to a compost pile will add nutrients and microbial variety, and the organisms in the castings will suppress (or even eliminate) the odors of the compost within a day or two.
  • Because of the microbial variety in castings, harmful fungi and bacteria are repressed.
  • Castings contain the enzyme chitinase.  Chitinase works to break down the exoskeleton of bugs (chitin is the building block of the exoskeleton).  Insects that feed on plants can sense the presence of chitinase and avoid plants that contain it.  Plants take in chitinase from the castings and then have a natural bug repellent!
  • Castings tea can be made from castings, and the tea has great benefits of its own.  In short, it's almost like a supercharged, liquid version of castings.  The tea also enables foliar feeding, which is when the plant takes in nutrients directly from the leaves.  This method is thought to be a faster way to deliver nutrients to plants.
Thanks so much for reading!


What's so great about worm castings? (Overview)

by The Incredible SLV Staff on 07/14/11

     Hey everyone!
     So now that you know what worm castings are, you're probably wondering what they do.  Most of the time, castings are referred to as an all-natural, completely organic plant fertilizer.  This is a short way of explaining it, but castings are so much more than that.
     You see, the soil that your plants depend on isn't just soil.  It's also the whole soil ecosystem that supports the plants.  There are tons of different fungi, bacteria, and microscopic organisms that live and breathe in that soil (if it is good soil), and they play a vital role.  In order for a plant to be healthy, there has to be a variety of these microbes, which ensures the beneficial ones are there and the negative ones do not get a monopoly. 
      Maybe an analogy will help.  Take the savannahs and fields in Africa.  All sorts of mammals, birds, insects, and even reptiles live there.  But, if only zebras lived there, it would be bad.  There would be no predator to keep the population in check.  The zebra herds would swell to an unmanageable size and deplete the resources that keep them alive.  The grass would be chewed to ground level, the trees would be stripped of leaves, and food would eventually run out.  However, if a predator population moved in, like lions, the zebras would be kept in check and the land would recover.  The ecosystem needs to be balanced.
      Soil ecosystems with one type of microbe growing to large proportions can often mean disease for the plant.  Root rot is an example of this. 
     Chemical fertilizers are so strong, so harsh, that they pretty much wipe out the soil ecosystem.  That leaves it open for monopoly by one bacteria or fungi.  But even that might not happen because the fertilizer makes the soil nearly inhospitable for quite some time. 
     That's where castings come in.  Yes, worm castings do have many beneficial micro and macro nutrients for plants, but they also have more than that.  Castings contain a wide variety of beneficial microorganisms.  When you add castings to the soil, it not only delivers nutrients, but it builds and diversifies the very soil ecosystem.
That's all for today, but I will explain more in my next post.

What are worm castings?

by The Incredible SLV Staff on 06/29/11

We'll start with the basics on this blog, and this is usually the first question we get when we tell people we sell worm castings.  I don't blame you if you don't know what they are; I didn't know what worm castings are until we started looking into them.

Basically, "castings" is a nice word for poop.  So, worm castings are worm poop.  What, you think it's gross?  Well, it's really not.  It's kind of funny when gardeners find worm castings gross because, well, what do they think regular soil is?  It's a lot more than worm poop, that's for sure.  There's also decaying things, castings from other sources, and... ok, ok, I'll get back on topic.  Besides, there is nothing harmful in worm castings.  It's nontoxic to animals, plants (well, obviously), and people.  In fact, you could eat it if you want to.  If you have a strange appetite for earthy substances, then dig in! :D

Castings are not the same as worm compost.  Compost has many more ingredients and is not pure worm castings.  To put it simply, castings are the more "refined" version of compost (in term of being similar to refined metal, not snobby people).  You know exactly what you are getting with castings, while compost can be variable.

In terms of appearance, castings are small, semi-cylindrical black bits.  They have no offensive odor, and I actually like their smell (which is not strong by anyone's opinion).  Have you ever taken a walk in a forest or a field shortly after a rain?  Have you smelled that fresh, earthy fragrance that brings springtime and growing things to mind?  That's what castings smell like. 

Castings should feel slightly moist when you hold them, as water is vital for keeping them viable.  An interesting characteristic of castings is that they hold their shape even when compressed.  Try this out when you use castings in your garden:  take a handful, squeeze it as tightly as you can, and then lightly press on the molded castings.  The castings simply crumble, going back to their original shape.  This is very beneficial for plants and soil quality in general, which I will elaborate on in my next update.

Ok, so now you know the bare bones about castings.  They're small and black, have no strong or gross odor, and keep their shape.  Just great.  But what do they do, and why are they so beneficial?  I will begin to answer those questions in my next post.

So what do you think?  Do you have any more questions?  Comments and questions are welcome, just click the comment button below this post.  You don't have to have an account of any sort, or enter any information (well, you can put your name if you want, but you don't have to...).

Let me know what you want answered, and I will do my best to respond.

Thanks so much for reading!