June 27, 2012

Leachate: Friend or Foe?

Wondering whether or not that liquidy byproduct of worm composting is can be used as fertilizer for your garden? The answer: probably not. Though the quality can depend on things such as how mature and uniform the compost in the bin is, how well aerated it is, and exactly what types of food you’re putting in, it is rarely safe to use the stuff coming out of your bin as a fertilizer. In fact, it will likely kill your plants instead of helping them prosper.

If your bin in producing a significant amount of liquid byproduct, there’s likely not enough bedding in the bin to absorb the liquid that is released as the food decomposes. (The number one problem in any worm composting bin is NOT ENOUGH BEDDING!) We recommend adding more bedding to the top of your bin and then recycling the leachate by using it to moisten the newly added bedding. That being said, if you’re really desperate to turn your leachate into a fertilizer, try diluting it with water 10:1 and aerating it for 24 hours (stir regularly or use a fish tank pump.) Test it out by spraying it on a plot of grass or some weeds that you don’t mind harming and if you see no negative side effects after 24-48 hours, go ahead and try it on your garden.

Remember, leachate and worm tea are not the same thing! The Urban Worm Crew recommends making a worm tea fertilizer instead of trying to use the leachate. For more information on how to make worm tea, click here or hold tight for future blog posts.

Happy worming!