How to Make Worm Tea: The Definitive Guide (2023)
If you’ve been learning about vermicompost and its many uses, you may have come across worm tea, vermi tea, or even compost tea. However, worm tea is often misunderstood. In addition, it can get confusing to find a simple worm tea recipe you can make at home. In the end of the article, I’ll also share the perfect vermicompost tea recipe we use to make a potent liquid fertilizer out of our vermicompost. Read on to learn how worm tea is made, and what its uses are.
What Is Worm/Vermi Tea?
First, let’s discuss what vermi tea is not. It’s a common misconception that the leachate that collects on the bottom of your worm bin is worm tea. This is false. In fact, leachate is often produced as a result of anaerobic bin conditions, which means it often contains bad bacteria. With this, it is not recommended for use in large amounts.
On the other hand, true vermicompost tea should be full of good bacteria (aerobic bacteria). The vermi tea can be made by simply steeping vermicompost or vermicast in water, along with other ingredients such as molasses to encourage good microbial growth. In theory, when used to water plants, or sprayed on plant foliage, these beneficial microorganisms protect plants and improve plant growth. It also inoculates your plants with the many nutrients and minerals worm castings contain.
Benefits of Worm Tea
Vermi Tea is often thought to be loaded with nutrients. However, vermi tea should not be solely considered for its nitrogen content. Although vermi tea is rich in nutrients, its microorganism content is what makes it special. The good bacteria in vermi tea help condition the soil, fight harmful bacteria, and improve the ability of plants to absorb nutrients.
How Do I Make Vermi Tea?
- 3 Cups of Vermicompost/Vermicast
- 5 gallons of rainwater or aged water (1 bucket)
- 1 Tbsp of Molasses
- 1 Large Cheesecloth/Fabric Bag
As its name implies, vermi tea is made in a somewhat similar fashion as tea. First, encase the vermicompost in a permeable material such as a cheesecloth, or a fabric bag. From there, add 3 cups of vermicompost for every 5 gallons of water. Do not use fresh tap water, as chlorine from fresh tap water can kill beneficial microbes. Rather, use dechlorinated water, aged water, or rainwater. Finaly, add a tablespoon of molasses for every 5 gallon bucket of water. While steeping the vermicompost “tea bag” in the molasses-infused water, mix it gently to aerate the water and keep the good bacteria alive. The vermi tea will be ready in 15 minutes. The remaining vermicast/vermicompost can then be used in the garden as mulch/fertilizer.
“Supercharged” Vermi Tea
Although the traditional method described above is easy and effective, if you want to truly make the most out of your vermicast, you can make a more bioactive ‘supercharged’ version of vermi tea.
To do this, simply use the provided vermicompost tea recipe above. Then, steep the vermicast in water for an extended amount of time. In addition, you should add an aquarium pump to keep the mixture aerated. Using an aquarium pump ensures that the good bacteria in the mixture stays alive. From there, the brewing time can range from a few hours, to even a couple of days, depending on your preferences. For a good middle ground, we recommend brewing the vermi tea for 12 hours, or overnight.
In addition to aeration, the bacteria will need a sugar source, in the form of molasses. The bacteria consume the molasses as a food source. With this, to the recipe, add an additional tablespoon of molasses for every 12 hours of brewing. For example, a brewing time of 12 hours would need (1+1) = 2 tablespoons. If you will brew for more than 24 hours, do not to add all the molasses all at once, or you will end up with a sticky, sugary mixture. Then, after brewing, the remaining vermicast can again be used as normal.
How Should I Use Vermi Tea?
You can spray vermi tea on plant foliage to protect plants from pests and disease. In addition, you can water the plants directly to condition and fertilize the soil, helping your plants grow healthier, and stronger. Remember, a little worm tea goes a long way.
Using High-Quality Vermicompost
Now, that’s a wrap. It’s clear worm tea has a ton of benefits—from increasing microbial populations, improving nutrient absorption, to speeding up the growth of your plants. By using the described techniques, you can now easily make vermi tea with the vermicompost you produce at home.
Thanks for making it this far. Now, it’s your turn. Is there anything new you learned about worm tea? Share your thoughts below.
If you think the article will help other worm farmers, feel free to share it on social media as well.