What is Leachate

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

After a few months of worm composting, you may notice excess liquid in your bin. Maybe you’ve seen your worms trying to escape. If you have a spigot flow-through system, you may be able to drain this liquid. Let’s talk about this excess liquid and how to manage it.

Let’s dig into the problem so we can start digging ourselves out.

What Is Leachate

Leachate is the liquid runoff from rotting and decomposing food. It is a liquid that has not gone through decomposition, as noted by its smell and color. Leachate does not contain the beneficial bacteria associated with compost tea. Instead, it can contain phytotoxins that kill plants and make animals and humans sick if ingested.

How to prevent excess liquid

The good news is that you can avoid any extra liquid through proper maintenance. Maintainance means figuring out how much dry bedding to add when feeding your worms. You can prevent excess liquid by knowing how fast your worms eat and not overfeeding your worms.

Check out the complete guide here to learn more about feeding your worms!

How to deal with a bin with too much moisture

The fix is easy if you are on this page because your bin has too much leachate, and you don’t have a spigot to drain it. Add dry shredded paper, cardboard, or coconut coir. The dry bedding will absorb any excess liquid. This will make the bin more hospitable for your worms and allow the worms and bacteria to digest the juice.

Can I Use Leachate On My Plants?

Overall, I’d advise you not to use leachate on your plants. However, some people have succeeded by diluting 1 part leachate to 10 parts water. Apply the liquid after regular watering to the soil and not directly to the plant. Avoid using this diluted liquid on food plants; use only on ornamental plants.

Difference Between Leachate & Compost Tea?

There seems to be some confusion between leachate and compost tea. It’s important to note that compost tea is not the leftover liquid in the compost bin. In fact, compost tea is a probiotic liquid that’s aerated and made using vermicompost – which is essentially worm poop. Vermicompost is the end product of the composting process. On the other hand, leachate is the excess liquid that hasn’t yet undergone the composting process.

There are a lot of different recipes and strategies to make compost tea. The simplest version is to take four tablespoons of worm castings and a teaspoon of molasses and mix it with 1 gallon of water. You will need to wait 48 hours until you can use the final product.

I shake everything together and leave it uncapped. Every 3 to 4 hours, I come back, recap, shake and uncap. You could use a fish tank bubbler in more technical setups and wait the two days without shaking.

This compost tea is excellent for all plants and contains all beneficial microbes and bacteria.

Summary

So there you have it, a basic overview of what leachate is and how to prevent or use the leachate you have. Leachate should not be confused with compost tea made from worm castings in a specific process.

If you have comments, tips, and tricks on dealing with or using leachate, leave them in the comments below.