A garden is the best alternative therapy.

This isn’t your mom’s home remedy, but possibly an elixir that the garden will find potent and invigorating.

You see, despite the cooler weather and the much appreciated rain, the squashes and cucumbers are struggling.  Their growth appears stunted and both the yellow squash and the zucchini are now flowering.  I don’t know what to make of it.  Top it off with a small infestation of aphids.  This doesn’t sit well for an obsessive-compulsive gardener.

I brewed up a small batch of castings tea yesterday.  I read that it can help troubled plants by giving them a dose of immediately available nutrients and trace minerals and a bath of beneficial microorganisms.   As it turns out, there were a couple of sites that proclaimed the virtues of castings tea as a pest deterrent precisely because of these microorganisms.   This is the recipe I used:


5 Gallon Bucket

Foot-long piece of old panty hose

Stick (from which to hang the panty hose)



2 C. Worm castings

2 T. of cane syrup (molasses or corn syrup)

Chlorine-free water

Bucket, stick, panty hose, water, sugar and worm poop.   Mmmmm.

Bucket, stick, panty hose, water, sugar and worm poop. Mmmmm.

I put the worm castings in the panty hose, tied a knot at the top, then tied the panty hose to a stick I notched to sit on top of the bucket.  Then I filled the bucket with water and let it sit 24 hours.  It is suggested that one use an air pump to bubble the brew, but I don’t have a pump and just decided to let it sit as is.  The cane syrup serves as a food for the microorganisms living in and on the worm castings, and allowing the mixture to steep for 24 hours gives it time to produce excellent levels of these beneficial bacteria and microbes to enrich the soil and protect against harmful fungi.  I am hoping that this will help the veggies out.

Yeah, I know it's nothing pretty to look at, but the toads came out for a gander.

Yeah, I know it's nothing pretty to look at, but the toads came out for a gander.

I came home and sprayed down the plants.  I’ll hold out hope that they’ll be rejuvenated even though they’ve scarcely grown the past three weeks.   I sprayed down the herbs as well, and it didn’t take but ten seconds or so for the little green worms to come slipping off.  I found a couple more that obviously enjoy the basil almost exclusively.   I feigned eating one, which totally freaked out my daughter.   “Mmmm, tastes like basil.”


Comments on: "Worm castings tea … hopefully to the rescue." (4)

  1. I’m sure your brew has to be good for the garden. John D. swears by the molasses spray. I have never seen caterpillars on my basil before but I brought some into the house tonight along with chives and oregano and parsley and before I knew it a green grasshopper and a caterpillar were hopping across the table! I also have aphids but I’m just letting mother nature take its course this time.
    I bet it’s pretty noisy round your house in the evening!

    • roundrockgarden said:

      They were there, just hiding in a nice comfortable – and tasty – spot!

      If I can’t get a handle on the aphids, I’ll bring on the ladybugs and let them have a feast. Otherwise, I’ll just keep knocking them off with a good worm poop spray. 😀

  2. Thank you so much for the detailed info about creating the tea! This is an area of gardening I haven’t experimented with. It might be time to get going on the worm composting, or do you get the castings from somewhere else?

    • roundrockgarden said:

      I put worms in my compost bin, but I don’t sift out their remains. Luckily, there are several nurseries that carry Lady Bug brand worm castings like this.

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