HVH offers a very pure form of worm castings, harvested right here in San Diego, California. Many of the finest nurseries in southern California are now recommending pure worm castings to their customers, based on the positive experiences many people have had. There is no doubt these castings are an excellent source of nutrition for plants, but that is not their only appealing feature. The manufacturer has applied for a patent for the use of this product as an insect repellent. The patent is not issued yet, nor can we claim that castings will repel whitefly and other pests. Nonetheless, that is the “buzz”, and HVH is conducting our own tests to discover whether it will work for us in this way. If you notice any such results with your own use, please let us know. UltraPure Worm Castings are relatively inexpensive, and we highly recommend them for their excellent benefits to the soil and for the feeding of your hibiscus.
Our supplier has continued to improve his castings and we are happy to report that they are now the most advanced, highest quality worm castings available anywhere.
DO NOT USE MORE THAN THE RECOMMENDED AMOUNT OF WORM CASTINGS WITH YOUR PLANTS. It takes very small amounts of worm castings to grow a healthy microbiome in the rootball of plants. Large amounts block water absorption and can prevent water from reaching the roots of your plants. So be very careful to use only the recommended ratio of 1 part worm castings to 10 parts soil. This will grow a healthy microbiome while keeping your plant’s soil well hydrated.
The important active ingredient is the concentration of chitin degraders. Chitin degraders produce chitinase. Chitinase will dissolve chitin and chitin is the structural component of the hard shell of an insect. In the original HVH worm castings, the level of chitin degraders was 54 million cfu/dwg (Œcolony forming units¹, or the number of living microorganism cells, per dry weight gram). Our manufacturer has increased the chitin in the feedstock for the worms and thus increased the level to 200 million cfu/dwg. By increasing the chitin degraders 400 percent, the response time of insect pests has been cut dramatically.
HVH Worm Castings also contain fossilized kelp and rock minerals to bring all of the minor elements into the active range, along with 40 percent high quality compost. The compost provides the food source for the beneficial micro-organisms, insuring that the customer gets a product that is still alive. Extensive research has shown that using the castings with kelp, rock minerals, and compost if far more effective than using worm castings alone.
Improved HVH High Quality Worm Castings are available in two sizes: 1-gallon standard and 4-gallon economy size bags. Use in a 1:10 ratio. For example, use 1 cup of HVH High Quality Worm Castings to 10 cups of potting soil. You can also use this mix as a top dressing, about 1/4″ deep.
“Worm Cast Applications”
by George Hahn, California Vermiculturist
Worm Castings have been known as the best item possible to make all plants to grow better. New applications have been researched by several universities and have been field tested for confirmation. Any landscape or growing application will benefit immensely from the use of worm castings.
Improved Growth: Extensive university testing has been performed by Ohio State, Cornell University, UC Davis, and the Australia SIRO to prove the results with worm castings. These tests have shown improved flower size, bloom quantity, quality, and color. Fruit and vegetable tests have resulted in yield improvements from 15% to 57% as well as improvements in taste and appearance.
100% Organic: The general public has come to correctly support non-chemical answers. Worm castings have been known since the time of Charles Darwin’s research as the best way to healthy soil and healthy plants and 100% organic. A common cry is for solutions that are not chemical based so we don’t risk potential health problems.
Non-Toxic: The skull and cross bones found on agriculture chemicals is absent on worm castings because they are non-toxic. Parents do not need to fear for their children or pets with worm castings.
Can’t Burn: Since worm castings are 100% organic they don’t have the salts found in synthetic fertilizers. The absence of these salts means that there is no possibility that plants can be damaged using worm castings.
Odor-Free/Odor Elimination: Worm castings are the only animal waste that does NOT have a manure odor. Worm castings have the fragrance of rich healthy soil.
Odor Elimination: Testing has shown that worm castings are very quickly effective at odor elimination. Mix 20% worm castings with composted dairy manure, horse manure, chicken manure, or compost and all objectionable odors are eliminated within eight hours. You can now use these effective organic fertilizers without offending odors. Worm castings are more efficient and cost less than half than activated charcoal.
Fungus Control: Four major university research projects and testing has shown that the complete soil food biology found in worm castings will quickly control fungus problems. Within a few weeks plants suffering from fungus problems will show significant improvement that lasts. All ground fungus is quickly brought under control. Nitrogen is released in the fungus control process providing added plant growth. (This is published research information and can be given to buyers in a generic form).
Insect Repellency: Testing has shown that several microorganisms found in worm castings stimulate the organisms in plants that work as repellants for a large array of insects. The repellants increase to a level that the insects find the plant nectar distasteful. The insects then leave. The effectiveness has been seen for aphids, white fly, and other bugs that feed on the plant juices. Plants tested included but are not limited to: begonias, various citrus, hibiscus, various house plants, morning glory, roses, solanum, and zylosma. The number of individuals who have successful applications now exceed 1,500. This research is on-going. A patent application is in process as well as a bio-pesticide registration.
Fire Ant and Common Ant Repellency: Ants can detect the natural repellency organisms when they walk over worm castings. They find the worm castings highly objectionable. An immediate negative reaction can be seen by ants when worm castings are applied. The ants leave areas covered with a 1-inch layer but will begin to walk across the layer after a few weeks. Apparently some change happens to the top layer. Red fire ants will leave their nests within 24 hours of a single application. We are working with the top research scientists for the application on red fire ants. The ant revulsion has many applications.
How Does the Insect Repellency Work?
My best understanding and explanation is:
The relationship between the enzyme chitinase and insect repellency is well documented from academic research. (Extensive research work is now being done to genetically alter plants to produce a high level of chitinase). Using worm castings is a non-toxic, and organic methd of doing the same without genetic alteration.
The enzyme chitinase will dissolve chitin and chitin makes the exoskeleton of a bug. If the level is below detection then it is not toxic to the bug and they can NOT detect it. Increase the level of chitinase above this level and the bug is repelled by the nectar of the plant rather than attracted to it. The bugs reaction to chitinase is similar to our reaction to sour milk. One drop of sour milk mixed into a glass of sweet milk and you will drink the glass with no negative reaction. However, mix in three tablespoons and no one has to convince you to not drink the milk.
Using worm castings triggers the chitinase production level. At this point I can’t name the trigger organism. I have a theory that I am researching. I should be able to name the organism soon. Applying the worm castings to the soil at a 10% – 20% mix results in the level of internal chitinase increasing. The 10-20% mix comes from research by Ohio State, Subler, Edwards, et al, regarding the optimum mix for optimum plant growth. Applying a ‡ inch layer to the top of a plant equates to 10%. A 1 inch layer to 20%.
The detection level for the bug is in the range of 1 million cfu/dwg. We have tested plants covered in white flies. The level of chitinase producing organisms is usually less than 300,000 cfu/dwg. One particular hibiscus tested at 260,000 cfu/dwg prior to application. This 10 foot tall hibiscus was covered in white flies. Three months after application the white flies had left the plant totally. The chitinase level had increased to 670,000,000 cfu/dwg.
The speed of repellency is in direct relation to the size of the plant. Spider mites will leave house plants in about two weeks. Aphids will leave roses in less than two months and it will take about three months for all of the white flies to leave a ten foot tall hibiscus.
It appears that this mechanism works for nearly every plant. I have included a list of the plants tested. All of the plants listed were tested by 11 nursery managers/staff and two garden writers. All tests to date have shown success. (These tests were NOT performed by California Vermiculture). We have performed our own tests and shown efficacy have relied on tests by others as support data. Nearly every one of these testers scoffed at the possibility of worm castings being able to repel insects.
The manager of Steven’s Nursery told me that he could not accept insect repellency. I agreed that the idea sounded outrageous but offered samples for his personal testing. He had Joseph Coat roses that had been plagued with aphids for over six years. He said that there was not a single spot on these roses bigger than the size of a dime NOT covered in aphids. He applied a 1 inch layer in the watering basin. In less than two months, all aphids were gone. He has now applied worm castings to all of his roses. He now has not a single aphid anywhere.
Nursery managers have asked their clients to apply worm castings and observe the possible pest repellency effects. The number of people who have seen success in their own tests exceeds 1,000. I have asked how many of their clients have complained of no positive results. Not one complaint for lack of results has been made to date except for Gina Wright.
You read the article by Gina Wright in Decor & Style. You need to know the whole story. In a later article, Gina reported that her aphids were all gone but the white flies were still evident though greatly reduced on her hibiscus and abutilon. I contacted her to do some testing to determine why she still had white flies. She reported back that she had spoken too soon. All white flies are now gone.
I have registered the use of worm castings for insect repellency as a patent. The patent search shows no one else has made this claim. Dr. Scott Subler says he is familiar with the industry and no one else has tied together this effect. Dr. Subler also did Not believe my radical reports but now says this is the first ever, organic, non-toxic method to provide for insect repellency. Dr. Subler are working together to assmble the needed academic documentation. We should have several research projects underway before the end of the year.
I am working with the EPA Biopesticides to get registration as both a fungicide and a pesticide. The director and his staff are very supportive. I should have registration for non-food applications before the end of the year. Food applications will take longer.