Nettles… Fresh picked from our front yard and washed… Just delicious! These go in the dryer. Tomorrow’s lot are for compost tea. It’s much easier to pick the fresh, young nettles than it is to pick and process older ones. All you need to do is wash the dirt off of the roots and they’re ready to go, whether they are to be used in a tincture, dried, composted, fermented or just used as a tea. Get them fresh from wherever you can and you’ll be rewarded with super nutritious greens, a remedy for many ailments, powerful fertilizer and a beautiful tea.
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As you can see from the pic above, it’s time to clean out the Mealworm Palace. The fine powdery stuff in the pic is called ‘frass’ and it’s what we call the leftovers after insects (in this case Mealworms) have eaten. It also includes other waste materials that we won’t go into here. You might like to check out the post I wrote on building a Mealworm Palace and this other on the lifecycle of a Mealworm so you know what to expect in each tray. Any large sieve will do. Being a fine powder and, by volume, denser than bran, frass work its way to the bottom of the trays through the actions of Mealworms constantly moving and stirring the bed. That makes it fairly easy to separate with any reasonable sieve. The frass will fall through, leaving the bran in the seive. To clean the trays, work in an open area (it can be a dusty job). Then you take scoops
The Mealworm larvae are rocketing along. They’ve doubled in size again and are easily recognised for what they are even with the naked eye. Mostly, they’re about 1 1/2 centimeters long now and almost ready for feeding to the chooks. So many eggs coming through from the beetle trayThe beetles in the top tray of the Mealworm Palace are having a great time. They’re busily mating and egg laying. They’re laying so many eggs that the clusters are hanging like cobwebs from their home tray. A layer of cast off skins.In the larvae trays, the rapid growth has led to a dark brown layer of cast off skins. They are papers and very light, so work their way to the top of the bran in which the Mealworms live.With insects, each stage in between molts is called an ‘instar’ and mealworms can have up to 20 molts before maturity. Thats a lot of dead skins!FrassWith all the growth and
Mealworms are great for chooks, fish or reptiles (and blog authors…) to snack on. They’re easy to breed and take little care. I was turned on to mealworms by our friend, Vicky who has bred them for a while. Doing a little research online, I discovered that there is a semi-automated system that you can make at home to breed them up conveniently. But now, what are we dealing with? Description The mature form is a black beetle, the Darkling Beetle, Tenebrio molitor but we are more interested in the caterpillar-like larval stage. In the wild, the beetles can be found in warm and dark environments such as beneath logs. Its genus name, ‘Tenebrio‘ means ‘one who likes darkness’. Darkling Beetles are scavengers who feed on decomposing plant or animal material. In man made environments, they can be a pest, living where we store grains and grain which they’ll happily eat (and they eat a lot). Life Cycle: The Darkling
Summer is nearly upon us so it’s time to work out some goals for the upcoming season. As you can see from the photo, we had some pretty big sunflowers last year, so it goes without saying that we want even bigger ones this year. The seeds from the largest of the last crop are being planted this week. The new irrigation system ensures that they’ll have more water and the recently improved mulch and compost layer will give then a super boost. Talking of irrigation, I’m currently cleaning out and improving the drip irrigation system that runs throughout the garden. I’m replacing many of the drippers with new 2 litre/hour drippers that are designed to run under a range of pressures. This is ideal for our rainwater tank-fed system. I’m also in the process of putting in 30cm lengths of 50mm PVC pipe into the ground at key areas and near trees. These will be fed