Foliage Gone - What To Do With Worm Tea Leachate?

bencjedi(6 - Central Kentucky)November 26, 2007

My worms living in nested 5-gallon buckets since April 2007 produced an inordinate amount of 'worm tea' (leachate) in the lower bucket and I didn't get a chance to mix with molasses and bubble to use as a foliage spray this summer (didn't want to buy a fish tank aerator pump and stone for one use). Now all the leaves have fallen off all my vegetation and I am not sure how to use the liquid. I started a new compost bin outside a few weeks ago.. should I dump in the worm's liquid to stir microbial activity or buy/do the pump/molasses thing and then add it in to the pile? I want to get the new bin cooking (procured several bales of free straw and have a regular deal with Starbucks for UGG). The bin can be filled to the max with straw, but I wanted to keep adding UGG regularly.

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squeeze(z8 BC)

add it to the compost, it's NOT tea, it's leachate, which is an indicator that your bin was way too wet


    Bookmark   November 27, 2007 at 12:22AM
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bencjedi(6 - Central Kentucky)

In it'll go! Thanks!

Though the experts at the university-sponsored class I took said it was worm tea that was being produced. I never did anything with it and it built-up all summer. When I added shredded paper as bedding I squeezed it out thoroughly, as a sponge, so I'm not certain where all the liquid came from. If it helps kick off microbial material "as is", it is definitely destined for the outdoor bin. It just rained quite a bit today, so maybe I should let my bin dry out a bit and stir things up before adding?

    Bookmark   November 27, 2007 at 12:52AM
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The leachate is only going to be worm tea if you take and percolate water down through finished castings. Most bins only have huge amounts of finished castings for a short time since we tend to harvest them. Hence, most of the leachate really just bedding/rotting food tea. Probably better for your compost bin than for your plants.

Food contains a lot of moisture and plastic worm bins tend to have a lot of condensation. The condensation collecting on the plastic and dripping down to the bottom is probably a good portion of what you have.

Worms don't need it super wet so with many bins lots of leachate can be an indication that things are being kept too wet. In many situations once the bed is set up, people add dry bedding to balance the moisture in the food. It all depends on the nature of the bin (amount of air flow) and the humidity/temperature of the air as to if one has to wet their bin down.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2007 at 9:28AM
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bencjedi(6 - Central Kentucky)

I dumped all the leachate onto my outdoor compost bins. The worms are due for some new bedding soon and there is plenty of junk mail to shred, so I'll try adding that a bit dryer to see if it lowers the moisture.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2007 at 11:47PM
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I was getting a lot of this leachate last winter and the bin got so wet that a lot of my worms died. I did two things. One, I made sure not to put in any additional water with the food waste ( I used to wrap the food waste in wet newspaper ) Next, I put a whole dry newspaper under the bottom bin of my worm-factory so that instead of just liquid leachate forming a pool that my worms seemed to love to drown in, I now have a soggy newspaper that I later discard into the bin again. If I see the bin is getting too wet, I just mix in dry strips of cardboard.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2007 at 9:54PM
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bencjedi(6 - Central Kentucky)

WOW.. no one told me the leachate was molten hot! Adding it to my outdoor compost bin 5 days ago fired-up my decomposition. For a couple weeks there was no activity in the compost. I turned the compost this Sunday and not only felt a wave of heat in the 40-degree air, but saw charred pieces of straw and steam vigorously rising. The leachate must have been infested with a large population of microbes.

I now officially rename worm leachate into "wakeup juice". :)

    Bookmark   December 4, 2007 at 12:12AM
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That is the whole point of worm castings and worm tea is that they are full of microbes to help enliven the soil so no doubt that the leachate is good for a compost bin. Especially as the leachate is not the same as tea since it probably contains a fair amount of nasty kitchen scrap bucket juice, all the better for the compost bin!

Here is a link that might be useful: My bin

    Bookmark   December 7, 2007 at 8:32PM
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