Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Smoke test

I've always loved that phrase, proof that mechanics and engineers can find humor in things other than the bills they charge me. -G- This week, I got to see if a few of my experiments were going to blow up. Or whatever.


Repulsive v.2

Take your basic nested-bucket bokashi set-up, add a mesh layer to keep the SF-nal maggots from falling into the reservoir, drill holes in the lid and upper sides a la the jr. wormery conversion, and then insert two hollow metal poles to provide the required 40-degree-angled ramps for teen grubs to climb.

Though I don't actually recommend doing this, at least not that last step. Turns out this season's bucket-tweak is not pest-proofed yet. I knew those ramps were going to be a problem, but hadn't really thought they might be used as levers. Imagine the raccoons and/or possums waddling away, burping...

Interim solution is to take the ramps back off and weight the lid. New grubs have hatched and are eagerly eating, but I have work to do!


Verne Prime has been retired; traditional vermicomposting is too much work for me. But I've got more worms than ever before (and yes, that is a good thing). So let's bring the smudge pots to my "worm towers," Trey and Sexton. Same basic design for both: spigoted reservoir at the base, nested plastic planters with a bit more drainage than usual for plants, screws with anchors inserted in the sides to keep the layers from compacting, planter with soil and plant on top. Spanish moss wedged into the sides to help secure the layers as needed, and used as mulch for the plant. Sexton uses larger pots and more of them, and the screws are set higher to use more interior volume of each planter.

My midnight freeloaders must not have been too pleased with this design, though I am--the comparatively squat Trey was perfectly unscathed, and Sexton, which is a bit more open, was disturbed but not much discommoded. Not upended, not emptied, they didn't even disturb the soil, far less the plant in it. 'Coon or possum claws did manage to pull out the moss-wedging from one layer, and no doubt the thieves ate whatever worms they could reach through that space, but the bulk of the wriggle (that is the right collective, yeah?) remained safely in the feeding layers.

It does reinforce the caution, however, that the towers must be stable! The weight of soil and plant on top has so far proved sufficient, but I've only got a couple of levels in place right now. I had decided against a center pole for extra anchoring as I thought it might be messy--this way, planters can be easily removed and replaced with no risk of spilling--but may have to rethink that. We shall see.


Bokashi and dried leaves together heat up too much for direct addition, and there's too much heat to put in the relatively small towers even with an empty layer between the uppermost active feeding layer and the new addition. So I think there has to be a separate container or spare planter that can be secured top and bottom against insects and larger pests, and left to rest at least four days.

Can't report on how long it takes the worms to completely devour a batch of bokashi + dried leaves, as they're still working on it, but they're multiplying like their little wormy pants are on fire! So I guess they're happy.


Peggy said...

I am throughly enjoying your blog! I just finished making up my "baby" batch of bokashi per your instructions and can't wait to get started. Being in Houston, I was wondering if you let your batches sit outside or inside. Warm weather is already upon us and I'm afraid of "cooking" the stuff. LOL

Haven't ventured into wormies yet but I'm sure you'll convince me I need to!


D. S. Foxx said...

Why, thanks! And welcome.

Outdoor bokashi's practiced in even stickier places than Houston! (Says the Austinite. -g-) Tropical conditions aren't a problem; freezing, now... Direct sunlight isn't the best idea for an active bucket--especially with a dark bucket/container--and you'll want to make absolutely certain your container is pestproof and secured against storms (imagine the reaction if fermented kitchen stuffs ended up on a neighbor's car after a sudden wind), but I've run a few buckets outside in summer with no problem.

Of course, most of my buckets are white. If the interior temperature is regularly over 100 degrees, you might have some cause for concern--at least you'll want to check the reservoir frequently.

Worms, now, worms want coddling or AC in your summer and mine, but the microbes should be fine. Not that I'm saying you need them, you understand. Not _really._ Not yet, anyway.