black soldier fly bin

black soldier fly bin

We decided to show you our black solider fly bin and discuss why we have them. For those of you watching our greenhouse build videos, you may have noticed a white rectangular box in one corner of the greenhouse.   We will also give you a quick tour of it and show you how it works.

You can see our build post on this bin and get some additional information on the black soldier fly in this older blog entry. We bought our plans for the bin, as well as our starter BSF larvae, from Northwest Redworms.

 

black soldier fly bin with larvae
black soldier fly larvae inside bin eating coffee grinds

What we feed the black soldier fly larvae

The black soldier fly larvae will eat just about anything.  Any food that you might consider as fast food for human consumption is terrific for black solider fly larvae.  We have a brewery near us and they give us the spent grain from the brewing process and we feed that to our chickens and add it to our black soldier fly bin.

In the past we also have fed them a cheap dog food and grain after moistening it first.  The dog food was more expensive for us than grain, but there was almost no unconsumed pieces.  With grain they will not eat the hull of the grain.

With the feeding of grain you will eventually need to remove the uneaten portions of the grain.  It is typically lighter than the contents of the bin and can easily be scooped off the top.

If you do not have a brewery close you could likely get food scraps for free from a restaurant, school or fast food place.   With a little bit of your time you should be able to secure a good source of free food for your black soldier fly bin.

A great source of fat and protein for the chickens

Black soldier fly larvae are high in fat and protein, over 30 percent of each.  The chickens absolutely love them and come quickly when we start tossing them out to be eaten.

It does take a fair bit of food to grow black solider fly larvae.  For every 100 pounds of food added to their bin we expect to harvest around 20 pounds of black solider fly larvae.  If we were buying all their food that might not make good sense, but remember we get our spent grain for free.  At the end of the summer we will have saved money by reducing our chicken feed bill.

 

Video of our black solider fly bin

Here is our latest video of the black soldier fly bin we keep out in the greenhouse.  You can see how it works and get a quick look at the BSF larvae in action.  We find it interesting and our chickens absolutely love them.  When we throw out the larvae for them to eat they really get excited.

Transplant tomato seedlings

Prune and transplant tomato seedlings in your Mittleider garden

Today we are going to prune and transplant our tomato seedlings from seedling flats to our grow boxes.  Pruning before transplanting is going to help make them stronger and help to get them through the shock of transplanting faster.  If you are looking for information on pruning tomatoes grown with the Mittleider gardening method, check out this post.

Transplant tomato seedlings

While we demonstrate transplanting these seedlings into a grow box, the same steps can be taken to put them into your native soil.

Why prune before transplanting?

Pruning tomatoes before transplanting is a good idea for a couple reasons.  First, by removing some of the leaves it is going to be able to transplant it deeper into the soil.  The more of the tomato plant you can get into the soil, the more roots it is going to establish.  More roots will help it to grow faster and supply more water and nutrition to the plant and those delicious tomatoes  we want to grow.  It is all about the tomatoes!

Reducing the leaf mass on the seeding will also help reduce transplant shock.  With less mass to try and support through the shock of transplant, the seedling will come out of shock faster.  Our absolute favorite pruning tool is the Fiskar.

What do I prune?

This is a good time to make sure all the suckers are removed.  To see what we typically removed while pruning seedlings be sure to see the video below.

Transplant them deep

The deeper you can transplant your tomato seedlings, the better.  The stem is just covered in root hairs.  Once they are below the soil they will begin to change into roots. Those new roots will help to get the added water, air and nutrients to the plants.

Take care not to get the terminal bud, or the growing tip, buried.  Doing so will kill the plant and end your chance of getting any tomatoes.

Give them nitrogen

To help get those tomatoes to recover quickly we also give them a shot of nitrogen.  The nitrogen is applied 3-4 inches away from the plants at a rate of 1/4 ounce per linear foot.  Once the nitrogen is applied we scratch it into the soil and then water it and the tomatoes thoroughly.

Here is the video

We made a video showing the pruning and transplanting process on our tomatoes.  We also will include a follow up video showing how all out transplants looked a week later.