microbes eat my garbage! Or something like that...
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
A hole above the ground
Necessity is the mother of…Repulsive 2010 beta.
My usual spigots can’t handle grubbery leachate; it's pretty nearly sludge, thinner if the filter hasn't been dislodged yet but always muddy and with fine-silt particles that clog the tap. I can’t lift a full inner bucket right now to get at the lower one to empty it (wrist injury’s healing, but not yet fixed). And letting the reservoir back up into the unit is not an option. So I set the inner bucket on top of a soil-filled planter that had once been fitted out as a wormery--which means that it had ventilation holes on the sides and bottom, plus a drip-tray beneath. Also, since Verne has no concept of personal space or respect for ancestral colony gravebins, some worms.
This largish unit has about the same volume of soil beneath as potential food-and-grub volume above, and I’m not sure I’d try much less than that; eight inches of soil minimum, if my admittedly sketchy math is correct.
So far, it’s working quite well. A few grubs have no doubt squirmed into the soil, but most of them stay near the top, that being where food comes in. (I decided not to worry about it unless or until I saw a grub using the wormery part to escape; so far, no grubs have been sighted emerging from the soil layer or hatching in the soil-packed vent holes, and the mamas don't tend to bother probing them.) It's quite possible there are worms in the grubbery's inner bucket, but that's not a problem either, and the holes are there should any aggregate bit decide to move. Leachate seeps out of the grubbery into the soil, where it serves to keep the worms fed and moistened, and since soil regulates temperature and pH, there’s no need to worry about Verne no matter what the grubbery gets up to. Too, between the weight of the soil and the nesting of base and rim, plus the inevitable-here-in-Bucketville weight on top, the grubbery’s as nearly secure as I can make it. No human-perceptible odor escapes except when it's very wet--as in, after our recent storm-cycle--and then it smells like fertile wet soil, no trouble at all. Judging by the adults flying around, happy-BSFL pheromones are being produced and food-scent is perceptible to them, since despite crawl-off there's no population shortage on the horizon, but so long as my neighbors and I can't smell it, it's a success.
I'm kind of excited: a moisture-regulating grubbery means one less chore, and one less chance I might accidentally spot one of the aggregate bits that earned Repulsive his name. Well worth the temporary reallocation of a bucket of cheap dirt! Have to say, I’m not sure how well it’d work without worms in the soil layer and/or EM in the foodstuffs. Or, ideally, both. But since I do have both, this is a workable model for me.
At some point, of course, I’ll have to do something with the unit, but with any luck at all, that won't be until fall. Lure the last layers to an alternate location, let the grubs in the unit mature and crawl off or go dormant, let the worms work the bucket over the winter, and in spring and harvest a bucket or so of rich vermidirt and worms. From stuff I wasn't willing to feed my bokashi buckets.
The obvious next step is to test this as an urban pet waste disposal; I've had some success with temporary in-ground units, but that only works where you have a hole in the ground away and downslope from your garden! Too, that was to get rid of the leavings from the neighbors' dogs. The household feline's box is a very different matter. EM, obviously, but what then? I'd thought about BSFL before, but they don't like clay, and there remained the question of what to do about the remains in the bucket once they'd done their part.
Worms were also a possibility, of course, but they can't handle fresh liquid wastes. Grubs + worms seemed reasonable, except for everyone saying how difficult it is to maintain them together.
We shall, as ever, see.
Glad to be back, DSF
Photo courtesy of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service , where some very odd photo categories can be found!