“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson
Thursday, April 16, 2009
The advantages of Vermiculture for the Homestead
When we homesteaders are planning our homestead and what type of livestock we are going to have we rarely think of worms, yes worms. However, raising earthworms has many advantages for the homesteader and is such a cheap investment it should be strongly considered. Earthworms provide awesome compost and fertilizer. For those of us that are growing organically we are always looking for the most natural means to fertilize our crops and pastures. This compost has the added benefit of being practically free and totally self produced. Self production is important for those seeking to live self-sufficiently because if one is dependant on the feed store or hardware store, then self-sufficiency is defeated. Earthworms are probably the cheapest livestock investment a homesteader can make and they reproduce at a fairly rapid rate. They typically double their numbers every 60-90 days depending on the variety. Earthworms thrive on things that normally would have no other use such as shredded paper, cardboard, kitchen scraps, yard clippings, and manure. They increase the composting rate of these things as well. You can build your own worm bins or use old containers around the farm to raise your worms in. The worm castings (worm poo) is highly nutritious for your vegetable garden and any surplus of worms can entice the worm farmer to take a day and go fishing. Extra worms can also be placed directly in the garden to not only fertilize the soil, but keep it loose and airated as well. With a large surplus of worms and for the serious grower then worm sales can bring in a little extra income. It isn't that hard to find a local bait shop that would rather buy your worms than pay to have them shipped in. The investment to start your worms is as cheap as a 3.00 cup of worms from the bait shop. If you want to get a larger amount of worms then there are worm farmers specializing in certain types of worms that you can order your worms from. Of course with any livestock, there are "breed" considerations. Most worm farmers in our state either raise nightcrawlers or red wigglers. I am not real sure what the difference is except the price. However, I am not an avid fisherman and I do know that fisherman usually have their breed that they swear by. So if you are planning on raising worms for bait you might want to take into consideration what most fishermen in your area tend to like. I know that red wigglers are more expensive, the average being around 40.00 a pound. So like any other livestock do your research on what you want to raise if you plan to seriously raise and sell these critters. For those of us that just want to take another step toward being completely self-sufficient then a cheap cup of bait shop worms will be perfectly sufficient to start our own fertilizer production factory. Worms are a great asset to any homestead. They are a cheap investment, a livestock that eats for free and adds a much needed and valuable commodity to the rest of the farm. So grab that 5 gallon bucket put some good dirt in it and go grab some worms.