Aerated Worm Tea

By Erin Schott

Watch Erika’s How-to video here .

     At Instar, we use aerated worm tea in all of our gardens. From our personal urban farm to client gardens, edible and ornamental plants benefit from a monthly dose of this microbial cornucopia.  So what exactly is "aerated" worm tea? Simply put, it is the end result of steeping worm castings in dechlorinated or distilled water releasing the microbes that live there into an easily absorbed liquid for your plants and soil. Aeration is the process by which you give your microbes oxygen so that they may grow and multiply.  Essentially, you are growing life and creating a living soil when you use aerated worm tea in your garden by releasing valuable bacteria, fungi, actinomycetes, and protozoa to the soil fending off any negative predators in the process.

           Living soil is so important in raised beds and native soils alike. In a raised bed, with soil brought in from elsewhere, you want to maintain the health of the soil diversity considering it has little access to the soil life surrounding it in the ground. In a native soil, aerated worm tea will help to create a rich topsoil layer which your plants root into initially and diversify what's below that as you maintain the applications of tea.  Also, by regularly releasing the good guys into your soil you leave little room for anaerobic (thriving without oxygen) bacteria and organisms to invade your plants root systems. You are proactively protecting your plants from compromised health or reduced yields!

           Plants need pore spaces around their roots to best thrive which is one of many benefits the microbial life in aerated worm tea help to deliver simply by living their sweet little microscopic lives! As they work, they leave behind valuable nutrients while also creating those necessary pore spaces for plants to access water and oxygen. Lastly, the tea works well as an organic foliar spray to deter small-bodied insects and disease. In the process, your plants become stronger and more disease resistant providing more prosperous harvests. Using aerated worm tea will help you create soil that is healthy and hardworking just like you - The Instar Gardener. Without further delay, go forth and bring your soil to life so that it may provide for you and your generations to come!

Worm Tea Recipe:

Materials Needed:

1. Worm castings - preferably from your own vermicompost system

2. Cheesecloth and string - for the "tea bag"

3. Organic Molasses - about 3-4 tablespoons

4. 5 gallon bucket - filled with dechlorinated or distilled water

5. Small pump with a Bubbler attached via tubing- to oxygenate the mixture

Step 1:

Remove about 1 cup of worm castings from your worm bin and place in cheesecloth creating a "tea bag" for steeping!

  • The castings are the moist, thick, and practically black substances left behind once the worms have consumed and excreted what you feed them and contain the microbial essence!

Step 2:

Fill your 5 gallon bucket with dechlorinated or distilled water and ad your 3-4 tablespoons of molasses making sure to stir it to dissolve the thick molasses at the bottom.

  • The molasses is the food for your microbes. The natural sugars in Molasses will give the microbial life energy to multiply as you aerate the tea.

Step 3:

Hang your closed tea bag from the side of the bucket until the castings are submerged and add the airstem of your pump. Let steep for 24- 48 hrs.

  • The longer you allow the mixture to steep and aerate the more life you will be growing. However, any longer than 48 hours and you will have to feed your microbes again with molasses.

Secret Step 4:

Put your positive energy into the appreciation of life from your worms hard work!