microbes eat my garbage! Or something like that...
Friday, June 26, 2009
Tales from the Bucket: the Hundred Degree Bucket
Actually, it’s a bit hotter than that here, and while the active indoor bucket is comparatively cool, the garden-waste bucket test has been postponed indefinitely. Called on account of heat. Have I mentioned that it’s ***hot***?
Between the temperature and the webworms, I declared the end of my variant-broccoli season last week. Normally, garden waste goes in the apartment compost now that we have a bin, but it’s full right now; no way I could fit a small pile of roots, too-tough stalks, and skeletonized leaves in there.
Farmers don’t typically bother with buckets, choosing to sheet compost or pile-ferment or otherwise handle their large-scale waste in place instead. But I am not a farmer. No farm, no land = no place for sheet-composting or whatever. I could, I suppose, have tossed all that fresh chemical-free vegetable matter into a leaf and lawn bag, but I have pangs enough handing over fallen leaves, no way the city’s getting something I worked to grow! Those bits might not be edible to me, but my microherd should be allowed to enjoy the harvest, too.
So I blinked at that small pile a few moments, mentally translating it from yard/gardenstuffs into bucket-volumes of kitchen waste that just hadn’t made it into the kitchen, and then went and fetched the largest bokashi bucket I own.
I did everything right at the start: added EM bokashi bran to the bucket first, chopped up all the remains, layered EM bokashi bran generously, mashed the materials down, used the silly tool to hammer the lid down and check the seal. What I didn’t do was open the bucket the next day to add more bran. I don’t tend to; I’m generous with the EM at the start, and most of my buckets are now equipped with spigots, so it’s no trouble to tap the things frequently. The only reason I can see for that “open daily” bit is to check on the progress of the bokashi, and quite frankly, I do enough of that! Every two or three days is fine.
Except...it really wasn’t, this time.
I didn’t have to open the bucket to learn there was a problem; the bucket had opened. Gas pressure defeated the lid I had deemed unopenable without mechanical aid! The smell of overripe brassica was perceptible some feet away, and the sight when I rounded the corner was startling: Black Soldier Flies don’t swarm, but there were more of them buzzing around that bucket than I have ever seen at one time before.
So the bucket failed according to my definitions (insects, odor), but that’s not to say the fermentation failed; in fact, it was too successful! Yeast + food + heat = carbon dioxide. The pressure popped the bucket’s lid off, which allowed sunlight to cook the top layer of leaves where they weren’t completely covered in EM bokashi bran, but I was curious enough to stir the bucket, and the scent beneath the top was characteristic of early bokashi.
What, I wondered, would happen if I put the lid back on? The bucket was already failed...
The lid popped off again in less than a day. Which, I figured, was more than enough of that. I am curious to know how long it would take a filled-all-at-once bucket to ferment at one hundred degrees as opposed to the cooler indoor temperatures, but that test would require a gas-release valve, and I’m not headed back to the homebrew shop any time soon, so it’ll have to wait. Because I may be a personal chef to the worm towers, but I am not willing to become a nanny to buckets. Twice-daily burpings is just too much work for me!
The image above is from allposters; no affiliation, I just liked the shot.