continuing the stories... :)
previous problems of fungus gnats did get
taken care of by using a fine cloth mesh
for cover material. they still needed an
extra snug seal around the edge, the rubber
rings from the lids work well for that. i
haven't seen a fungus gnat since last summer.
i'm maxed out for space use with 14 bins
of worms and extra bins of dry stuff set
aside for winter processing.
i had pulled a few quarts of worm castings
out of a few bins to make more room and then
decided to use those to innoculate a few
extra bins of soybean shells so they can start
breaking down. they do not have covers or
worms so this is a pre-processing step and i'm
hoping this will get them ready in time for
spring planting. by putting them in the bin
and getting them wet and then sprinkling them
in layers with worm castings starts the fungi
and bacteria. as they get moistened and
gravity compresses them they make extra room
for a few more layers. i have a bin and a
half left to start up this way and i'll be all
caught up from the fall dry bean processing.
no shortage of worms. they continue to
work as model employees, very industrious in
breaking down materials. by spring i should
have 10-12 bins of processed materials and
will then start up the whole cycle again by
removing a few shovelsful of garden soil
for each bin (i use a mix of worm species
including those that live down deeper in the
soil -- these like some grit in their diet).
the latest experiment in comparing the
speed of decomposition was of beet tops and
other root trimmings from beets we processed
last fall for canning. the drying process
is still showing it's great improvement. by
drying the beet pieces they rapidly are broken
down once added to a bin (they rehydrate and
then get eaten fairly quickly). in comparison
to the non-dried beet pieces, well there are
still solid chunks of beets in the bins
sprouting greens and still very firm and not
being broken down much at all.
the items that do not benefit much from
drying are melon peels, tomato pieces or
any other soft fruit or cooked vegetable
(these are eaten fairly quickly when added
to a bin). otherwise any fresh vegetable
or stem from a veggie like a broccoli or
lettuce benefits from being dried first
before being added to the bins. potato
peels, carrots, other root crops, chopped
and dried first are also broken down much
and it is easier to store the dried scraps
until when i want to layer them in the bins.
it also saves a lot of extra moisture from
pooling at the bottom of the bins (veggies
are mostly water). i use a closed system of
buckets without holes in the bottom. i don't
want all those nutrients draining away, i
want them to go back to the gardens.
another short report from the trenches...
errrr... bins. :)