Part of keeping my homestead sustainable means raising black soldier flies and meal worms to supplement my chicken feed. Both of these insects cannot withstand freezing temperatures. This means they have to be brought indoors. (garage or basement counts as indoors) However they produce best in warm temperatures. That means that one of my Fall projects is cleaning out the meal worm bin in order to move it in for the Winter. I keep mine on top of the dryer all winter , but I realize I might be the only homemaker that would be open to bugs in the house. Shout out in the comments if you would be open to keeping bugs in the house during the Winter to make your homestead more sustainable . I might be surprised how many are out there? It would sure be nice to show to my family and my mother-in-law, who think I am really “weird” to keep bugs around for my chickens, that there are others out there. Please, please show my family that I am not the only one!
I used an old window screen my neighbors gave me when they replaced their windows. Boy, I have found so many uses for those! I simply scooped the contents onto the screen and let the frass(meal worm castings) slip through to a bin underneath. By the way this frass is good stuff. You want your tomato plants to bloom in spring? Apply a little meal worm frass= blooms galore! I add it as a top dressing to all my pots and raised beds. Here is a break down of the nutrients in meal worm frass: mealworm castings contain 4 times the available nitrogen, plus other important nutrients such as phosphorus and iron — Nitrogen-4.17% Phosphorus-2.70% Potash-1.64% Sodium-62.9mg/100gms Iron-26.5mg/100gms. PH is 7.25— perfect for your vegetable garden! You will be using only ¼ of these castings for the nitrogen value compared to regular commercial fertilizers! Extremely cost-efficient! Recommended applications for lawns are between 10-20 lbs per 1000 square feet. Plants (indoor-outdoor), flowers, grass, soil rejuvenation or other fertilizer applications. Take one or two teaspoonful for plant or flower use, sprinkle evenly then water. For best results mix with soil.
If your still not convinced: Frass is the fine powdery material phytophagous (plant-eating) insects pass as waste after digesting plant parts.It causes plants to excrete chitinase due to high chitin levels, it is a natural bloom stimulant, and has high nutrient levels. Frass is known to have abundantamoeba, beneficial bacteria, and fungi content. Frass is a microbial inoculant, also known as a soil inoculant, that promotes plant health using beneficial microbes.
I found a store that was selling it for $17.00 per 5lbs another selling at $4.99 per 1 lb.
So to sum up; Get meal worms! They are great for your chickens and their waste is even better for your garden! Hear me when I say: bloom stimulator! Who doesn’t want that?
After I cleaned out my bin I put a few inches of wheat bran,from my local feed store, into the worm bin with the worms and beetles to start anew for Winter. Continue to put in fresh veggies in your bin to feed/water your meal worms all Winter. Pick out the larvae for a nutrient packed treat for your chickens every week.
If you are new to meal worms and want to get started see here . If you are cleaning out your bin like I am, work your meal worm frass into the garden soil now. Don’t worry, you will have more in spring when you clean out your bin before putting outside for the warm weather.