Fertilis ™ earthworm castings is the brand name for one of the main products of the Company, Planner Bee Plant Care, started by Carmen Nottingham in the early 1990’s.
Over the past 20 years, we have been producing Fertilis ™ earthworm castings, as well as earthworm composts, worm bins and doggie-loo’s. We have also extensively researched, piloted, and implemented larger-scale waste management projects using earthworm technology.
Our company’s aim is to help heal the soil and we have been doing this through gardening, maintenance, landscaping, Permaculture Design & implementation, workshops on growing organic edibles, soil and environmental rehabilitation methods for farming, and greening urban areas (including rooftop gardens).
All these activities ultimately have ONE thing in common – the creation of HEALTHY GOOD RICH LIVING SOIL, which is achieved by copying Nature’s processes. The key to creating healthy living soil is managing EARTHWORMS within the CYCLE of Life / Nature.
Everything is connected………..and the use of earthworms ensures a strong connection between waste processes (death) and regeneration (life) which sustain us, the environment and ultimately, our planet.
We can reverse climate change – it all starts with you, me and the earthworms…
Most frequent questions and answers
Firstly, what is soil? Soil is a living entity. A handful of healthy (or live) agricultural soil should contain about 6 billion bacteria, about 10 000 protozoa, and about 5 kilometres of fungal hyphae. 50% of the root systems of plants should be colonized by mychorrhizal fungi.
If these micro-organisms are present in the soil (as humus), there will be enough disease suppression, so it won’t be necessary to apply any poisons, as plants will be strong. For centuries, farmers applied manures and compost to their soil. Bodies of dead animals that have been broken down are also recycled into nutrition for the soil and the plants in the soil.
Therefore, an organic fertilizer feeds the LIFE of the SOIL. Organic fertilisers should either contain the micro-organisms, or the natural FOOD for these micro-organisms – or both. This is the case with Fertilis: it contains micro-organisms (bacteria, protozoa and fungi) as well as the minerals and food-state available nutrients that all plants need in order to be healthy and strong. Fertilis is humus. Humus is the soil’s life. Organically grown food is far healthier as it contains food-state nutrition for our bodies.
INORGANIC fertilizers are a by-product of the 2nd world war. Synthetic, enzymeless (micro-organism deplete) man-made chemicals wage war on nature.
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When these are applied to plants, the beneficial organisms that suppress plant diseases are reduced, organisms that cycle nitrogen from plant-not-available forms into plant-available forms are reduced. The soil becomes imbalanced, organisms that retain nitrogen, phosphorous, sulfur, magnesium, calcium, etc die off. Once retention is destroyed, these “nutrients” end up in our groundwater, our drinking water and go out to sea – causing pollution and environmental imbalances on a large scale.
Also, plants in these imbalanced soil conditions become susceptible to disease as the opportunistic, disease-causing organisms become a problem – and we have to spray poisons to kill the pests. And so the cycle of death continues. And we eat the produce!
Is it no wonder that there are so many sick people on the planet?
Fertilis ™ is made by feeding cow manure to the red wriggler earthworms (Eisenia fetida). As these earthworms process the manure odours and pathogens are removed, the pH levels are balanced, and ZILLIONS of BENEFICIAL micro-organisms are created.
Fertilis is HUMUS – Nature’s life-giving essence that creates healthy SOIL, which is central to all life on earth.
Adding Fertilis to the soil introduces all these beneficial micro-organisms to establish themselves and so regenerate the soils.
Fertilis helps to unlock the nutrients and create fertility and water-holding capacity in all soils.
Fertilis, although classified as a “fertiliser” is actually a SOIL ENHANCER and organic facilitator: it facilitates the fertility in the soil by making the nutrients available to the plants. In this helpful environment, the plant roots are able to absorb exactly what nutrients they need when they need it……
As with our bodies, we are only able to absorb FOODSTATE nutrients (minerals, vitamins, etc).
It’s exactly the same as with plants – the Fertilis helps the nutrients in the soil become available in FOODSTATE form to the plants.What
Soils are usually very poor, as the life has died, mostly from our harmful activities and ignorant practices.
We leave soil uncovered, let it burn in the sun, it becomes lifeless and compacted, and then we create erosion when it rains or when we water…….
It is not difficult to create healthy soil – the key is to maintain it (and that’s not difficult either)
Soil needs to be replenished in order to keep it vibrant and alive.
And anyone – everyone – can do this:
For the best and quickest results –
Stop using harmful poisons / pesticides
Add HUMUS (Fertilis – 1 cup per square metre) and cover the surface of the soil with a thick layer of compost
Add leaves and grass clippings as mulch ON TOP OF THE COMPOST AND
Water well initially.
This is an instant recipe to improve the SOIL STRUCTURE.
Once this is done NEVER uncover the soil again.
Dig the hole,
Add Fertilis and compost, add water, place the plant, close the hole and
Add compost on top of the uncovered soil.
Add leaves, grass clippings as mulch…….
As the soil regenerates you will find that the compost and mulch disappear quickly.
On a regular basis (usually in spring (when new life starts) and in autumn (when PLENTY leaves are available):-
KEEP ADDING COMPOST
KEEP ADDING LEAVES / MULCH.
Generally – 250ml per square metre onto lawns. For shrubs, spread 250ml around the base of the shrub. There is no need to dig it in, nor to water immediately afterwards, as it won’t burn.
When planting out seedlings, make the hole, add 15ml fertilis into the hole, place the seedling directly onto it and close up the soil around the seedling.
When planting new trees and shrubs, add 750ml Fertilis into the hole, add compost and plant the tree / shrub. For pot plants or bonsai, apply a thin layer of Fertilis on the surface of the soil in the pot.
Any plants – orchids, bonsai, bulbs, vegetables – all benefit from Fertilis.
To grow seedlings in seedling trays – mix 250ml Fertilis with 800 ml vermiculite or washed riversand.
As a top dressing for lawn, mix 100ml Fertilis with 900ml river sand or soil.
You can’t put “too much” Fertilis into the soil. But you can’t plant directly into ONLY Fertilis. It has to be put into the soil to increase the soil’s micro-organism population – and it is this soil life that feeds the plants and helps them to flourish.
Fertilis is NOT a compost. It is a fertiliser,…. or rather a SOIL ENHANCER (See Question 2). Compost is a soil conditioner – but it still has to be broken down into food state form by the soil micro-organisms (if they are present in the first place). One bag of Fertilis is equivalent to applying about 30 bags of manure-based compost. The value of Fertilis as a fertilizer is far more than synthetic fertilizer – and it is far cheaper.
Fertilise with Fertilis, and mulch with compost. Then apply a layer of natural mulch (such as leaves, dried grass clippings, etc) to retain moisture and to provide further food for breakdown by the soil micro-organisms.
Although earthworms are blind (they have no eyes as such) their skin is a highly sensitive sensory organ, so they feel their way around in the dark.
Yes – through their skin. They need a similar oxygen supply to humans, and they are very efficient at extracting oxygen from the soil. Their blood has haemoglobin; they have 5 hearts and a very good circulatory (and digestive) system.
Consequently, because their skin absorbs so well, they can drown easily when there is too much water. The water displaces oxygen in the soil, and they can’t breathe. That is why when we have a heavy downpour, you often see earthworms – they are suffocating and trying to escape from drowning. Unfortunately, earthworms are extremely sensitive to UV rays, so they die very quickly if exposed.Does
No. In any environment, (soil, pot plants, containers) they regulate their numbers by the amount of food and water that is available to them.
If there are enough micro-organisms and enough moisture in the soil, they multiply well. If there is moisture loss, or not enough micro-organisms, they go into a state of estivation (like hibernation), and do not eat nor multiply. If the period of drought is too long, they can die.
NO. If your soil has no earthworms, it means that the conditions are not right for them. Any introduced earthworms will die.
To have earthworms in your soil, you need to feed the soil with organic nutrients – such as Fertilis earthworm castings – and mulch with compost. You also need to ensure there is enough moisture in the soil. The Fertilis is full of beneficial micro-organisms, which then establish in the soil, and they can multiply in the presence of compost and moisture. THEN – MAGIC HAPPENS – earthworm cocoons -from soil-living earthworms that have been lying dormant in the soil – hatch – and these earthworms continue the job of healing the soil and making all the necessary nutrients available to the plant roots.
Note: some earthworm cocoons can lie dormant in ‘dead’ soil for a long time. When the soil has micro-organisms (Fertilis), compost (food) and moisture – they hatch and earthworms establish in the soil.
No. Earthworms do not eat plants nor their roots. Their main diet is micro-organisms and harmful pathogens. Earthworms BENEFIT plants, because they help to remove any harmful pathogens or bacteria in the soil, and they balance the pH of the soil. They also convert the nutrients in the soil into a FOOD STATE form, so that they are easily absorbed by the plant roots. Minerals and organic chemicals (eg Nitrogen, potassium, phosphate, calcium, magnesium, etc) are not in foodstate form in the soil, unless they are converted by the presence of micro-organisms. (Earthworms multiply micro-organisms in the soil)
More than likely NOT. The earthworm’s anatomy is complex – it has 5 hearts, 3 guts, calciferous glands, and a haemoglobin circulatory system. Would you survive if you were cut in two?
Most earthworm species live in the SOIL. There are 4 species that are commercial (waste management) earthworms. Of these 4, the Eisenia fetida is the most widely researched and used, and is the one that produces Fertilis. There is concern going around that we are spreading an environmental risk by propagating the Eisenia fetida earthworms for domestic and commercial waste management, as they will “take over” our indigenous earthworms. In my humble opinion, this is not so for various reasons:
The Eisenia fetida CANNOT live in soil. They will most certainly die and they will not multiply and lay cocoons, as our soils are too lean for them.
The fact that there are between 3 500 and 6 000 SPECIES of earthworms on the planet, means that they are very specific to their habitats, and no two species can interbreed.
The climate conditions in South Africa as a rule are harsh for earthworms, and of our SA species (about 300) none of them are top-dwellers. Our SA earthworms need a lot of territory in which to roam and are mostly underground soil dwellers.
• MAN has created the greatest imbalances on this planet. Name me ONE garden that is pristinely indigenous. Most gardens have exotic species of plants, grown with man-made synthetic fertilisers and are poisoned regularly at the first sign of pests. Our gardening and farming practices have killed the life of the soil.
• We consequently have polluted the planet with our indiscriminate use of chemicals and pesticides, we have poisoned the groundwater, polluted the air and have caused global warming to manifest. Not to mention our landfill sites – cancerous growths attached to ugly, hot, crime-ridden, rat-infested cities.
• The earthworm bins are there to HELP REDUCE the wet waste that goes to the landfill sites. Wet waste contaminates dry (and recyclable) waste, such as paper, etc.
SURELY anyone in their right minds will see that the earthworm bins (and wet waste recycling) are here to help SAVE the ravages of human activities and lifestyle on the planet.
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