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Worms and Larvae
This has got to be THE topic that every girl wants to write about! But if you farm, they play an important role, and harnessing the power of these creatures can prove a real boon to your farming systems.
Worms and larvae digest scrap organic material. They turn it into highly usable compost to enrich your soil, to produce more organic material - the kind YOU like to eat, and the kind you like to feed to your chickens and goats. The chickens and goats produce lots of manure - along with all those eggs and milk that YOU like to use. The worms and larvae also reproduce and provide necessary (and natural) protein for your chickens and other poultry. A nice self-perpetuating cycle.
You can grow redworms, mealworms, crickets, or soldier fly larvae. Of those, redworms and soldier fly larvae are the easiest to care for, and provide the best benefits for your garden.
Soldier fly larvae can digest more kinds of waste than redworms - redworms do best with limited meat or dairy, while soldier fly larvae will gobble pretty much anything and turn it into soil.
Soldier fly larvae have the additional benefit of being self harvesting. With the right kind of system, you just empty out the collection box every few days. No sorting through the compost to sift out the worms.
Either one though, is a benefit to your farming efforts. Both require fairly consistent temperatures to produce prolifically. Redworms like neither heat nor cold, preferring about 70 degree temps for optimal performance. Soldier fly larvae also require avoiding extremes for best reproduction.
Before you get grossed out by feeding them to your chickens and ducks, remember, that is part of a NATURAL diet for those animals! They will snap up bugs as fast as they can, but you'll quickly run out of them if you have a very large flock. If you want to keep from feeding them nasty protein sources commonly found in commercial feeds, worms and grubs provide a natural and sustainable way to do that, and keep your poultry in top condition.
You can find instructions on making a Black Soldier Fly system here:
You can buy a composting system for them here:
You can make a worm composting system fairly easily:
- Take two large storage bins, and drill about 2 dozen holes in the bottom, and another two dozen in the sides, for ventilation and drainage.
- Put the lid for one of them upside down, to act as a drip tray, under the bottom one. You'll need to regularly empty that as extra moisture drains out.
- Put your worm bedding in the bottom bin. Put the worms in, and put the lid on. Feed the worms regularly.
- When the bin is full, put the second bin in on top of the first one, put new bedding and food into the top bin. Feed them for about two weeks (to give the worms time to migrate up, and time for the eggs to hatch and migrate up also), then remove the bottom bin, and dump out the worm castings, and start over.
With worms, it is essential to maintain the correct moisture levels in the bin. They don't like freezing temps either, so you may need to bring them inside in the winter.