Non-Aerated Castings Tea – 9 Months Later

Back in March (2018) I decided to test out non-aerated worm castings “teas” – specifically with the goal of determining whether or not they would go foul without any sort of aeration (after the initial “brewing”, that is).

One treatment received some maple syrup as a “microbe food”, while the other received no amendments and all teas were sealed up in small ziplock baggies.

It didn’t take long to notice a distinct difference between the treatments – the amended teas getting quite cloudy, and starting to stink within the first couple of weeks. The no-amendment teas remained clear (with tea color, though), and no bad odors developed.

By early in April I decided to toss the amended teas simply because the smell was getting too bad. Even just going down to the basement I could smell them (enclosed in the ziplock bags), and I definitely didn’t want any of the odors to end up wafting upstairs!

My original plan had been to test out the no-amendment teas to see if they offered any plant-growth-boosting properties, but my spring/summer ended up a bit “all-over-the-place”. The experiment got shelved (literally) and completely forgotten about…until a number of months later, that is!

A discussion/debate in a Facebook group about aerated vs non-aerated teas (always a hot topic) in the early fall reminded me about the bags, and I decided to check on them. Interestingly enough, there was still no bad smell – only a faint, pleasant earthy odor.

I checked on them again this week, and not much has changed. It’s worth noting, however, that only one of the bags seems to have remained fairly full (I guess these zipper bags didn’t had a perfect seal) – so I don’t really have much of the tea left.

Nevertheless, I would still like to do some testing to see if this extract would offer any benefits to plants.

I would also like to try this out again – maybe this time instead of a sugar source it would be worth testing a mineral-based amendment (I have some rock dust that should work well). Hopefully I can find some better containers as well (some sort of bottle would make more sense).

Bottom-line, it is pretty clear that basic worm castings extracts can have a great shelf life! Now the only question is whether or not they offer any plant-growth-boosting properties.

Stay tuned for more updates in this series!

Previous Posts In Series
Does Non-Aerated Castings Tea Always Stink?
Non-Aerated Castings Tea – Update
Non-Aerated Castings Tea – 4-13-18

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    • Wayne Tadlock
    • January 23, 2019

    Bentley, on your non aerated casting tea- perhaps rinsed out plastic soda or water containers for storage? Trust me, foul odors will eventually permeate them too. But they’re not as “iffy” about durability. lol ?

    • Davilyn Eversz
    • November 27, 2019

    Hmmm. I don’t know. I am a big fan of Tim Wilson the microbe guy, and from what he has taught us, just because it doesn’t smell doesn’t mean it is still alive and viable. Did you conduct any microscope tests to see what was still living, if anything?

    • Bentley
    • December 6, 2019

    Valid question, Davilyn – and I am a huge proponent of the microbial benefits of castings as well. I wouldn’t claim this is super-microbially-active (and absolutely wouldn’t go near a microscope to come up with any sort of meaningful assessment anyway – even with a reasonably strong microbiology background)…but beyond the “microbial” realm there are also some important beneficial compounds (apart from typical NPK) – plant growth promoters/regulators that should stay active. This REALLY reminds me that I need to test these extracts to see what sort of impact they have (or don’t have) on plant growth. Thanks for your nudge! 😎

    • Patty Schofield
    • April 30, 2021

    Hi Bentley!
    I am coming across advice to flood a (multi tiered plastic) system daily or weekly with water, maybe 2 or 3 times that day, then water the garden with that water. What will happen to a bag system if this is done? Of course, this is a bag system that is well maintained, no signs of anaerobic smells.
    Thanks in advance!

    • Bentley
    • April 30, 2021

    Hey Patty! I’m not a big fan of the “flood your stacking bin” advice at all. I think it encourages people to drench their systems, flushing out all manner of decomposition metabolites – leaving them with something NOT on the same level as an actual tea created from finished (stabilized) castings. That being said – in the case of someone with more vermicomposting experience, who has a more mature system with good air flow – I see a much greater chance of producing some nice stuff! I think bag systems would probably be one of the better choices – and they will likely require a lot more “hydration” anyway so it can be a sort of “two birds with one stone” scenario the way I see it. It’s definitely a topic where there is no one “right answer”. People get all bent out of shape about leachates on the one side, while others are far too lax about recommending “flooding” etc on the other end. I always prefer options in between. :-))

    • Patty Schofield
    • April 30, 2021

    Thanks once again.

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