difference in outdoor (bsf)and indoor (rw) bins.

bluelake(8)July 25, 2010

I have three totally different bins and set ups. I have a regular old fashioned compost bin that gets grass clippings, leaves, scraps, coffee grounds, etc. Everything imaginable that can go into a bin.

That bin is SLOW to compost.

I have a old garbage can with holes cut out that gets pretty much the same as that first bin, but a little more food scraps and dead birds, dead fish, corn cobs, things that take a little longer to compost. This bin is full of BSF which are making excellent progress with ANYTHING I put in there. Yesterday, I put a rather large dead goldfish (from my pond) :( in there at 5:00 p.m. This dead fish was about 4 inches long. Today, at noon, there was only a spine with bones, like youÂd see in cartoons of an alley cat eating a fish. No flesh or meat at all. (IÂm assuming the fish died because a rock fell on it since when I lifted the rock, there was the dead fish. It was a fresh death tho because the fish was plump and still had color) and it was fat and plump when I put in the BSF bin.

In my guest room are my prized RM red wiggler bins. My first red wiggler bin was started on May 16, 2010 with 1 lb. worms. That bin is doing very nicely and they are eating, mating and partying.

Second RM bin was started on July 8, 2010 with 1.5 lbs. so they are still rather new, but digging fruits and cucumbers.

After seeing the rate of speed the BSFÂs were making in the garbage can bin I started wondering if that was a better route to go. I dumped about 3 lbs. of food waste in there this afternoon and they had covered an eaten corn cob (with butter!)within 20 minutes. I really canÂt wait to look at that corn cob tomorrow. I also dumped just about an entire can of round black olives, with the juice and those were MOVING around on the top of everything. I also dumped apple cores, peelings, and coffee grounds. Kind of an experiment type of thing.

So, my question is, are BSFÂs best used for excess food waste, or, is their compost high quality?

Sorry so long, and doing an internet search provided VAST results, so I thought IÂd try here first, especially Equinox.

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"Ooh-ooh-ooooh!" *raises hand high* I know that one. :-)

""Hello. How are ya? I'm Equi-no-x"

Wiggling olives. That would be fun to see. Be leary of the salt. Is it a bit weird to see corncobs you had minutes ago been typing down on with your teeth being eaten by BSFL? Great re-use of the fish.

Thanks for asking. BSFL can be a vermicomposters secret weapon. Mind you I don't have BSFL. But I will give it a shot. "Are BSFs best used for excess food waste, or, is their compost high quality?" "G'head, G'head!" Ok, You are lucky enough to have Four Bins. Each one has their best use. And they should be used as a team. *gets out football play board* Everybody (meaning the bins) can do a bit of everything and can pitch in in a pinch, but each bin has jobs they do especially well. I would first offer any edible food to people, rabbits, chickens, pigs. Just like I want to know somebody with a boat, I want to know somebody with A pig. When I think BSFL, I think this is for food scrap bonanzas that would overwhelm the other bins. Let's say you get home from vacation and find the refrigerator broke last week. Or are Canning. Big party next morning. Outdated, back of the cabinet cereal. Cleaning under fruit trees. Y2K Food Storage clean out. Cleaning out the cold cellar at the end of the season. Harvest rejects. Long Lost Zuchinni, Found. 28 Jack o Lanterns that will not store until the worms can eat them. Large quantities. Meat. Fat. Probably not armadillos. After giving the indoor wormies a good dose of the goodies the BSFL are your friend. Checking on proper drainage is critical. The worms would want to get the resultant BSFL compost, or BSFL castings. The BSFL will of processed the starting to rot bounty and turned it into stabalized, nondrippy, non heating up, 95% less in volume, excellent food source for the worms. The worms will further stabalize it with a calcium worm goo coating that drys into beautiful, flakey individualized vermicasting. We might need a spin off posting on that. Having a good use for the harvested BSFL helps too. ... When You Feed a... Pig 5 pounds of BSFL... What a great children's book that will make.

Instead of how does one eat an elephant? The BSFL answer the question of "How does one feed 4 watermellons to a pound of worms?" in 48 hours.

At least that is how I imagine BSFL in One of Four Various Types of Compost Bins would work.

~ I hope "That was ver-ry impressive, Mr. Bluelake."

I wish I could of typed that with a British accent.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 2:51AM
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Great response Equinox! As I would have suspected. The BSF's did a great job last night, and appear to be resting this morning, as is their nature. I'm gonna be late for work after checking all my bins this morning. Really late!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 9:27AM
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BSFL will brutally chew up almost anything, but worms leave high quality castings.

I don't have BSFL, but would use them simply for overflow if I needed to.

Pretty much how Ex2 explained in a much more entertaining fashion!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 10:53AM
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I'm not sure where in Texas you are, Bluelake, but our BSF season is LONG. Like it slows down for a couple months in the coldest of winter. That being said, be careful about bringing in comopost from the BSF bin. I even threw the bsf compost through a wood chipper then into a tumbler and added coffee grounds and grass clipping to get it hot before I brought in a gallon or so. I did this last winter. The window of my spare bedroom has carcasses of BSF that hatched inside. Good thing there are alot of boxes in the way so the wife can't see them. (Of course I'd lie and say they must have flown in...)

But that being said, I love my BSF pile. I put dog crap in it (can't break the dog- he pees outside then waits a while until he comes inside to poop and never when I am looking), excess food to include whatever bones, meat etc. even dead squirrels. I'll use that compost on ornamentals but as good as it looks I am tempted to put some around my blueberries.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 4:03PM
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pjames, I'm in Austin and yes the BSF season is quite long. I have no plans to bring anything that is in their bin into the house. Nothing! Not sure what I'll do with that compost in there though. I don't grow anything edible so it will most likely go into my raised flower bed.

That garbage can had actually been ignore for months. I just happened to look in there one day and realized that it was perfectly brown crumbly good stuff. I had been putting in things that were hard and slow to break down like bamboo frons or whatever they're called, same with palm frons. I think I just recently started adding edibles like a few months ago. I really didn't know what was going on in there for the longest time.

This is a new advenure / level of composting for me now.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 7:31PM
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How sweet, EQ left me one! "...is their compost high-quality." I have BSFL, because they're useful in my particular setting, but I'm kind of torn about the things, and this is one of the reasons why--people do keep trying to compare BSLF "pudding" to vermicompost, and there is NO comparison!

BSFL sludge is more stable than fresh worm-food, but it is not what a gardener usually means by "compost", and should not be applied directly to plants without further decompostion & curing.

You can process more varied materials with BSFL than with a smallish worm bin (large wormeries seem to allow for a wider range of feedstocks for worms, including some meats and citruses and things). But you lose a lot of volume with BSFL compared to straight composting or vermicomposting. I haven't managed the usual cited 95%, but there's a fair bit of carbon in my usual grub-grub, and they don't eat that. The worms do, when it gets that far.

Nutrient quality in composts (vermi and otherwise) depends in part on original foodstocks; I assume that vermicompost made from grub pudding* would have lower levels of nitrogen and protein than the same material processed only by worms; on the other hand, it would have more calcium, chitin, and maybe assorted micronutrients, and it would reach completion faster. But I haven't seen a proper scientific analysis yet.


*don't blame me, I didn't coin that term! -G-

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 8:16PM
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I don't know, EQ2, I think the giant mutant armadillo grubs might enjoy an armored pig!

Of course, my BSFL eat everything with EM seasoning, and currently live in a double-decker unit above a ridiculously large wriggle of composting worms, so even leprosy would be hard pressed to survive.

(Having said which, yeah, I think that bin would be destined for the oleander. Even poisonous flowering landscape plants deserve the odd feeding, and that would be sufficiently odd.)


    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 8:23PM
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Do tell me a good story of EM seasoning, double-decker BSFL units and a ridiculously large wriggle of composting worms.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 9:13PM
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OMG, this is fun and GREAT information.

EQ, As for your book, ... When You Feed a... Pig 5 pounds of BSFL

I just watched a video on Utube (sic) showing the decomposition of a baby pig by BSFL. Gross, but actually amazing!

dsfoxx: as to your statement - "BSFL sludge is more stable than fresh worm-food, but it is not what a gardener usually means by "compost", and should not be applied directly to plants without further decompostion & curing."

I ask how do you further decompose and cure BSFL "compost?"

dsfoxx: as to this comment: (large wormeries seem to allow for a wider range of feedstocks for worms, including some meats and citruses).

I reply, my BSFL are huddled in two lime halves as we chat, chowing down. I would never put those in my red wiggler bin. I used that one little lime to it's fullest degree! I made a recipe with it, I polished the chrome on my sink with it, I used the inside to clean my hands and nails and my diamond ring, THEN I gave it to the BSFL.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 10:09PM
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Not much of a story, sorry. I'm a big fan of bokashi. Turns out, so are BSFL. (Solar-drying inoculated bran? NOT an option. Yecch.) Now and then, I douse UCG in EM by way of bucket "breath freshener"--I know BSFL eat quickly, but a closed bucket retains odor, and I am very sensitive to that smell; EM takes care of it. Also, it helps to break down the carbon I'm forever adding, and makes me feel better about the trash I feed the grubbery. (Not guilt, squeamishness. Some of that stuff I wouldn't leave in an indoor trash bin for even a moment, even in a double-sealed plastic bag!)

The double-decker started as a happy accident--I was using a nested bucket set-up with a spigot, but BSFL leachate is mucky and clogged the tap. Needed someplace to put the inner bucket while I cleaned out the bottom, and the not-yet-resurrected RM wormery I'd been using to hold cheap potting soil seemed as good a place as any.

Forgot to reassemble the grubbery until the next day, and found worms under the bucket when I lifted it. I have once or twice found worms in the standard-model grubbery, and though the only worms I feed directly live in planter-topped tower wormeries, they've colonized all the planters I water with dilute bokashi juice or finish with composted bokashi, so I wasn't too surprised.

It's not been very long, but to date the double-decker's working frighteningly well. The RM was too deep to make a proper wormery, which is why it got killed off and repurposed; it's about the same volume as the grubbery, as deep as it is wide, with lots of ventilation/drainage in the sides and bottom. The grubbery waters the soil, and the soil keeps most of the grubs above the worm-layer. There is some mixing, but apparently not enough to bother either. Last time I checked, there was a huge clump of worms under the bucket with a few slow-moving BSFL, a few worms inside the grubbery part, and about the same worm-per-inch in the soil as in my planter wormeries--which IIRC is somewhere in the neighborhood of half a pound per gallon volume, all of them volunteers.

I'd ask where they all come from, but then someone would start making snide remarks about birds and bees. -G-


    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 10:24PM
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There are a lot of possibilities for further processing of BSFL waste, but I'm not sure how practical some of them are for home settings. Composting (hot, cold, or vermi) usually with other materials; milling & pasteurization; possibly drying without and almost certainly in combination with solarization, but I've not seen a proper analysis of that one yet, either. I seem to recall having read something about mixing it with spent mushroom soil, but can't find the citation, so maybe not. The swine study assumed remnants would be processed as municipal sludge. "Dillo Dirt," around these parts.

You're kinder to your BSFL than I--I eat my lime shells, at least the zest and sometimes the whole. (No diamonds to polish, though I'm stealing adopting the technique!) What goes in your worm bin is something only you can decide; I've heard of people adding meats to indoor wormeries, but can't imagine trying it myself. But then, I'm happier when all the mini livestock is outside. Some of it very far away. -G-

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 10:53PM
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Great Story! dsfoxx.

So this EM. I want to make some to make bokashi out of maybe newspaper, cardboard, egg carton, biochar tiny bits, as a last resort fireplace pelets of sawdust, or something else as yet unknown. I would like to make my own using yogurt "juice", apple cider vinegar with the mother, a handfull of vermicompost or cup of fresh drainage, and maybe some kombucha. Can the juice of a freshly opened batch of good bokashi be used to make more bokashi by soaking the dry material in it? Think there is a chance?

This is to process an unexpected bounty of waste once or twice a year to eventually feed to the worms during the slow times of the year.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 12:24AM
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IMO. EM is a retail name, "Effective Microbes." What you're talking about is IMO, Indigenous Micro-Organisms. [Not all IMO is EM, but all EM is IMO.] Much easier to find information if you know how it's catalogued.

By definition, EM includes certain rhodobacter species, aka purple non-sulfur bacteria, PNSB, purple photrophics. They are among Nature's more efficient deodorizers, and if you have a source*, I highly recommend adding some to composts, bokashi, grubberies and wormeries. (But then, I use EM to clean. Might be I'm a tad obsessed. -G-)

If you're planning on using it just to speed breakdown of worm-appropriate foods in an aerobic setting, you can use bokashi juice, kombucha + molasses, lactic acid serum, cider vinegar (especially where there's fruit in the mix), and pretty much anything else you can think of in the same vein. Fresh bokashi is a great compost starter, so yes for that too. If you're planning on fermenting foodstuffs, it's a little more exacting; EM and any equivalent innoculant intended for a semi-anaerobic use need thriving colonies of selected microbes so as to out-compete whatever's already on the foodstuffs. Using bokashi juice or a handful of finished bokashi (fermented waste) as a starter for a new batch is not generally recommended because, since microbes reproduce at different rates, there's no way to be sure that the desired microbes are still out-competing others by the end of the first ferment.

Since you mention carriers (newspaper etc.), I'll assume you're thinking about fermenting foodstuffs. There are a great many people out there who use lacto+yeast preparations. I don't recommend it for non-vegans fermenting their kitchen waste indoors, but YMMV. In which case, diluted kombucha with no flavorings fits the bill, and it's at least easy.

There's a bunch of lacto-only folks who use newspaper, and they say it works, but I think we have different definitions of failure. Also, of what constitutes an acceptable required effort. Hanging newspaper on clotheslines? No, thanks.

But if you're mixing your own inoculants anyway, there's no real need to bother with a dry carrier. You can use inoculant liquid straight, adding some dry matter to balance, or activate it with molasses and water before use just the way you would with retail EM-1 liquid. (molasses + water + sunlight and heat + time, with a gas release in there now and then until it reaches the desired pH)

Haven't started playing with bio-char, so I can't speak to that one, though I have read of folks fermenting EM with charcoal for treating contaminated water and soil.

As for IMO using vermicompost...ask me in a month or two. Technique one is cooking as I type this, but still too soon for results, though so far it's promising enough that I think I will start the planned test of technique two. (Nope, not the slightest little bit obsessed, not me!)


*rhodos in high concentrations come from some pond muds and the cups of bromeliads. Smaller concentrations can be found in dried leaves, especially leaves fallen on fertile ground and rained on. Still lower concentrations are in many good soils. I actually cultured some from pond mudcolumn and blacklight and all!but it was way too much work for me to be willing to do routinely.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2010 at 8:54PM
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Can you guys take this "Using bokashi juice or a handful of finished bokashi" to a new thread instead of hijacking and regurgitating my original post about my 4 little bins?

You'll probably get more attention that way any way.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 1:07AM
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bluelake: I am sorry for hijacking your post. I offer my sincere apologies.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 4:59AM
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