Vermicastings and compost teas

Good morning. I learned from Dwayne Bowman with SoilCraft about how they are using vermicast tea to increase biology in commercial regenerative fruit farms in Washington. They buy their vermicastings, but I learned that what you feed the worms makes a difference on the quality of vermicastings.

After watching some youtube videos, I am trying to create high quality vermicastings here for my garden. I am feeding cow manure (grassfed and dairy mix), oak leaves, coffee grounds, kelp, azomite, and I am looking for a source of chitin.

On Saturday, I was talking to a guy that has a business of making compost tea and applying it to large fields. He commented that you need the soil biology to create organic matter.

Here are some questions that I would love to hear your feedback:

  1. Does it seem like a good idea to research and try “Appropriate Technology” ways to have small-holder farmers use compost/compost teas/vermicastings/vermicasting tea?

  2. Is it achievable to make quality composts and teas without microscopes and electric?

  3. Which is more important for a small-holder farmer a) use green manure/cover crops to increase organic matter and thus soil microbiology b) use biological tools to increase soil organic matter and soil biology, or 3) use both?

  4. What is your experience both good and bad in using compost/ compost teas/ vermicastings/ vermicasting tea?

In her book “For the Love of the Soil” Nicole Masters talks a lot about using vermicasting tea to convert from conventional farming to regenerative farming. It is a way to stop using commercial fertilizers.

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I’m not a big expert (yet :wink: ), but I can give you an answer on question nr 2: yes, it is absolutely possible to create high quality compost without electricity and stuff. Compost tea might be more difficult, I’m in contact with the soil food web for more information on that one (whether stirring regularly instead of aerating would suffice).

Question three boils down to what a small scale farmer can afford. Plants do stuff for free if we let them. Biological tools (I assume you talk about stuff like vermicompost and compost tea and stuff) speed things up a bit, but cost a little more effort and/or money. We work in Central Tanzania, where people are very poor, so any financial investment is out of the question here…

Hi Mike!

In response to question #2, here is a post from a few years back on our solar powered compost tea brewer prototype. It won’t be appropriate for every small-holder farmer, but I think its worth considering in areas where solar power is accessible. Take a look: Solar Compost Tea Maker - #6 by Elliott_Toevs