How To Make Worm Tea | Grow Big Plants Now

Last Updated 9/15/20

Using a liquid fertilizer for growing vegetables at home is good, but you have to be careful with some of them. Enter worms and the magical ways of compost tea.

Its funny how I came into being a worm guy.  I heard about how to brew worm tea and the next thing you know I had a bag of red wriggler worms show up to my house. I built my own worm bin and my tomatoes have never been the same. 

Ok, that probably wasn’t funny, but having worms mailed to you was cool in itself.  In a nutshell, worm tea is simply taking worm castings and dipping it into water like a tea bag.

You will learn my highly effective worm tea recipe and why you need to start brewing a batch of compost tea.

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What is Worm Compost Tea?

When you steep or soak a tea bag full of worm castings (earthworm excretions) in water, you make worm compost tea. 

The worm castings are also called vermicompost and while they can produce the same worm compost tea but have different names, the impact they have on any dirt and plant growth is fantastic.

Your gardening will experience a boost as the worm tea slowly percolates into the dirt. Why? As the worm tea travels down the soil profile it will do some amazing things.

This compost tea will activate microbiological activity in the dirt.

It does this by adding the following soil enriching materials

  • Bacteria
  • Fungi
  • Actinomycetes
  • Protozoa

The difficult part in making worm compost tea is to have access to worm castings or vermicompost but it won’t be an issue if you are already engaged in worm farming.

how to make worm tea

If not, you’d need to start your own worm farm by using the many worm kits available on the market.

Check out our worm tea recipe and tips on how to use worm tea in the video below:

Worm Tea Water Vs Worm Castings?

By now we should be able to easily tell the difference between worm tea and worm castings. 

We now know that making worm tea from worm castings is simple.  The compost tea recipe is made by steeping worm castings in water for 24 -48 hours.

You can use the compost tea at full strength or dilute it with another 5 gallons of water before it can be applied to the soil in its “liquid gold” form.

You can spread this magic worm tea water full of microbes all over your plants and soil to promote healthy growth.  

No special equipment needed for your compost tea to make your plants get bigger- just water, vermicompost tea, and a sprayer or watering bucket.

Green thumb Gardener occasionally links to product and/or services offered by vendors to assist you with all your gardening needs. Some of these may be affiliate links, meaning we earn a small commission if items are purchased.

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Solid Worm Castings

Worm castings on the other hand is solid waste formed from the excretions of earthworms and in their pure form contain a myriad of organic materials which can actually add microbes not only to plants but also as a supplement for poor dirt and plant life. 

This means your worm farm can be used in its raw form to revitalize poor soil by its nutritious presence in the soil. 

More important is that worm poop contains large quantities of natural fertilizer such as nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, potassium and magnesium among other microbes.

You know the saying, “You are what you eat”.  Feeding your worms food scraps of bananas and a balanced food source of varying organic chemicals (nitrogen, phosphorus, & potassium) will be available in the worm manure.

Just ensure that your food is free of chemical fertilizers or growth inhibitors to ensure it is organic if that is important to you.

Liberal Amounts of Both Won’t Harm Plants

Being in liquid form that contains all the microbes & microorganisms present in worm castings, you would be able to drench your house plants and garden with the compost tea. Your plants would get all the healthy microbes and fertilizers they need from this worm poop tea. You don’t have to be careful how you apply the compost tea because you can wet the plant roots, stems and even the leaves without any detrimental consequences. Make sure however that you dilute the tea well with a copious amount of water (five gallons over and above the amount you have in the bucket you use for seeping should do it).

From Solid to Nutrient in a Jiffy

We also know that because worm castings are in solid form, plant nutrients contained in them are also in solid form but are soluble. So while worm tea already contains the plant nutrients in solution, the nutrients in worm castings are yet to be dissolved so plants can use them. But here’s the beauty about these soil and plant boosters. Both of them can be directly applied to the soil in their present state.

The Best Nutrient Provider on the Planet

Worm castings can be placed in the soil in as much quantity as is needed and don’t be too finicky or worried when you apply it to your soil. They will be absorbed into the soil the minute they hit the surface and as for burning the roots or plant stems, forget it! Once they’re in the soil they’ll do wonders to your vegetable or crop by boosting their growth with its arsenal full of all kinds of nutrients. By the way, you can also find carbon, nitrogen, zinc, iron, copper, cobalt, borax and…embedded in worm castings to nourish your veggies with or whatever you’re growing.

Leachate vs. Worm Compost Tea

Mentioning leachate here heralds a possible flaw in what has been a rather smooth and risk free interaction and co-existence between worm tea and worm castings.

The break lies in the occurrence of leachate. 

What is it?

It’s simply liquid runoff of your food source that seeps through the system and collects at or below where the worm castings or vermicomposter are at. 

So if you do have a worm farm, be sure to make periodic checks to ensure that leachate doesn’t accumulate at the bottom of your worm factory as dire consequences may overwhelm your veggie plants!

how to make worm tea

The Reason Why

Phytotoxins are harmful to all plants as well as humans and are manufactured by bacteria. One strain of toxin known as pathogens is found in leachate water. 

The pathogen wasn’t broken down in the worm’s intestine and is harmful to humans and shouldn’t be applied to edible vegetable plants.

The reason is obvious for as waste decomposes it releases pathogen bearing liquid water which in fact is the leachate. 

Hence the reason why this contaminated water liquid should be prevented from accumulating in the worm compost bin.

Even its use as a liquid fertilizer is questionable and you should be very careful when thinking about using it.

Precautionary Measures

Once again leachate is not worm compost tea.

If for any reason you do decide to use the leachate, the onus is on you to make sure you follow these critically tips  

Please make sure you abide by them always to avoid any problems that may take place as a result of your lax outlook:

  1. NEVER use the leachate if it exudes a bad smell and don’t just dump the leachate water anywhere and certainly not on plants along the driveway or roadway where it can quickly drain into drainage gutters and away from homes.
  2. ALWAYS dilute leachate with lots of water in the ratio of 10:1 or 10 parts of water to 1 part of leachate.
  3. AERATE the leachate to oxygenate it to improve its quality if you have the equipment, otherwise, safely dispose of it as quickly as you can.
  4. ALWAYS use outdoors to water only your shrubs, decorative or flowering plants.
  5. DO NOT use it on plants like vegetable plants and fruits which you intend to eat.

How to Make Worm Compost Tea Water

Have you ever experienced that elevated feeling of accomplishment, of being fruitful, of satisfaction and of glee when you look down or up at the leafy greens and tubers or the hanging garden plants? 

I’m sure you have and it’s a nice feeling is it not? This compost tea recipe will give you that feeling.

Well, you now have the perfect method to make one water soluble fertilizer tea for your garden. A worm compost tea bag packed with healthy bacteria and microorganisms you never thought existed.  This worm compost tea will help enrich your soil in a way you never thought and ward off plant diseases.

We give this tea bag and microbes an extra boost with molasses.  The molasses super charges the compost tea microbes as it is food for them to grow in numbers.

It’s not a treat for your palate but your plants are going to love this castings tea from the first minute you use it on them and during all the years hence. 

We’ve covered what this organic tea bag. So let’s dive into how to make worm compost tea from worm castings.

Here are the materials you need to brew worm compost tea:

  • Porous Mesh teabag – any type of bag or cloth which will hold the castings as it’s seeped in water.  You can use a pantyhose in a pinch
  • Use rainwater, pond water, or distilled water (Dechlorinate your city water)
  • Bucket (with 5-gallon bucket holding capacity will be ideal)
  • Worm castings (the castings should fill about one-tenth of the bucket)
  • Organic Molasses (optional) – this is food to increase your healthy microorganisms in the compost tea brew
  • Aquarium pump with aeration stone, fish tank bubbler
  • Watering Can, spray bottle, or another container to distribute the worm compost tea brew

What do you do next?Follow the steps listed below to make your first supply of worm castings tea brew:

  1. Fill up the porous tea bag with worm castings or vermicompost
  2. Steep the bag with content using the types of water recommended above
  3. Add about one to two tbsp of molasses per every 5 gallons of compost tea water.  the molasses is optional but definitely recommended.
  4. Allow the bag to be immersed in your 5-gallon bucket for 24 hours A light brown color means the worm tea is ready for use. Mind you, aerated water spurs microbe activity in the bucket so you could use a bubbler to add more oxygen to your worm tea solution.
  5. Dilute the worm tea with more water. First, remove everything from the bucket containing the worm tea and add five gallons of water to your one bucket of worm tea.
  6. You can add your leftover worm castings to your compost pile as all the microbes are in the 5-gallon bucket of worm casting tea.

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How To Use Worm Compost Tea

You may well ask as to how you water your plants with the worm tea. There are three simple steps to guide you for the best use of worm tea:

1.    Best delivery option – Narrow down your options as to the type of watering can use between an ordinary can or a spray bottle. Both are ideal but the choice is up to you according to your own circumstances.

Clogging up of the sprayer has been known to happen so use a strainer to rid your tea of lumpy castings material that might clog up your tea sprayer.

2.    Water plants with worm tea – Worm compost tea water is such a dynamic organic fertilizer it’s not fussy where and on what it spreads its goodies. You can use castings tea water on your vegetable gardens outside or your decorative plants indoors, the results are amazingly the same. Got to love worms!

It doesn’t just boost the dirt, it also prevents disease from gaining a foothold on your dirt or plants.

3.    Secure any leftover worm casting tea – Once you’ve watered your plants and find you have some leftover castings tea, don’t waste it by throwing the tea away. Carefully store it in a safe place but make sure you don’t cover it up.

The swimming microorganisms in the tea also need oxygen to survive so be kind and let oxygen in. To be on the safe side, it would be better if you use a new batch of castings tea each time you water your plants.

You’ll gradually learn approximately how much worm compost tea you’ll need to use each watering round so that waste is kept at a minimum.

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Final Thoughts

I bet you never knew what worm tea was and what wonders this aerated tea can do to your planting activities did you? 

You may have even thought it was all about drinking tea but was something else entirely different and new to you! 

Well, now you know what it is, how to make it and how to use it in your garden to get fantastic productive results.

More importantly, you now know you have a miracle maker, a wonder booster tea for your garden, that’s literally packed with all the essential micro-organisms to revitalize and energize your garden and changing it into a beehive of hyper-productive activity. 

Till next time.  Put your worms to good use and brew some compost tea.

Green Thumb Gardener
how to make worm tea
Jeremy Starke

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