I have always been a huge fan of worm castings as they are loaded with benefits for your garden. The humus levels are high, meaning they retain moisture up to 70% more than gardens without castings, and reduce the occurrence of compaction. Less compaction means that the roots of your plants have more space to grow, and natural garden worms are less likely to be destroyed as the soil springs back into shape. Castings are full of a
wide range of minerals that are absorbable by your plants meaning you will grow stronger, healthier and more productive plants. The #1 benefit to castings in my mind, however, is that they are full of beneficial microbes. These microbes essentially feed and maintain your plants better than you ever could using human made products. In fact, plants would not grow at all if microbes didn’t exist, they are a necessary garden element, and castings are loaded with them.
The trouble with microbes, however, is that they are tricky buggers to keep alive if they are stored on shelves or transported long distances. They will die if they dry out, die if they can’t access oxygen, die if they get too hot. Ideally, every gardener would have their own indoor worm compost at home and would add the castings from their own production into their gardens. But this is unrealistic.
Last week I had my eyes opened by a whole ‘nother process that (do I dare) suggest may even be a better alternative to buying packaged worm castings for your garden. Here in Calgary Kevin Davies, founder and CEO of Hop Compost, is making craft batches of organic compost just outside of downtown Calgary. The ingredients for this process come from Calgary’s best restaurants, cafes and grocers located right here in Calgary. Hop is the first inner city compost producer in Canada, and has been approved for this due to the careful considerations the Batchmakers ensure when processing this waste. There is no dangerous liquid leachates or toxic methane gases being released at Hop, meaning it is safe and beneficial to Calgarians. By processing this compost right in the city, where they also collects the waste for it, Hop has saved over 10 million pounds of emissions that are normally required to ship the materials and the end product to and from a city.
Hop has analyzed the waste from each source they collect materials from and carefully mix their batches to ensure consistency in their end result. The Batchmakers at Hop mix coffee grounds with bulky produce to create air pockets, produce is paired with meat to increase heat thereby killing pathogens, ash with citrus to ensure that each batch has a balanced pH, and so on. The final result is a hot steaming pile of compost, indicating that it is full of living microbes and that it has the highest mineral levels in any manufactured compost in Canada. In fact Hop Compost boasts 7.6 times the mineral content of any other compost on the market.
The final stat that makes my organic gardening heart sing is that Hop Compost is 2000 times cleaner than OMRI organic standards require for pesticide and herbicide counts. It is as clean as clean can be, and a perfect addition for your organic garden.
For amazing benefit to your home garden, you can add just half the amount of compost to your garden than you normally would by using Hop, and you still get 3.8% more organic and usable nutrients than you would with any other compost on the market. NPK is broken down as follows: 2.5% Nitrogen, 0.6% Phosphorus, 1.5% Potassium.
Likely due to the high levels of nutrition and microbes, Hop increased crop yields at MicroYYC by 48% last year when it was blended with a potting mix. This means your vegetable garden will grow stronger plants that will produce more fruit for you to enjoy this summer! Just another way to benefit economically from this local, sustainable and organic product.