Yesterday on the RWC Facebook Group wall Ria T. posted a question, basically wondering about her chances of success with some sort of sealed bucket system. Her hope was to completely avoid all possibility of dealing with fruit fly hassles.
As fellow group members explained, using a sealed system definitely isn’t the best way to go. The worms and other composting critters/microbes need oxygen in order to do their job properly.
My suggestion was to create some sort of breathable lid – using an old t-shirt (etc) or some sort of screen material secured with a large elastic band. This would allow enough air flow while still reducing the likelihood of fruit fly infestation.
As you can see, the discussion inspired me to test out the concept by setting up my very own “breathable bucket bin”!
Thinking about putting a shirt etc over top of a bucket got me thinking about my “Creepy Pants” vermicomposter – and that made me wonder if having an arm or a leg tube involved would add some advantages.
Rather than having to remove the lid, you could simply feed through the tube, and even if you did end up with fruit flies or gnats, all you’d need to do was insert your vacuum tube and suck up the adults before feeding!
Luckily, I happened to find an old neglected pair of long johns at the bottom of a clothes drawer. Initially, I assumed I could use just a leg for the lid. I quickly realized, however, that it didn’t have enough stretch in it to do the job – so I did what, in hindsight, makes way more sense and used what was left of my long john’s! The elastic waist band worked perfectly to keep the material tight against the bucket, and there was easily enough slack to cover over the hole where the other leg used to be.
Setting up the bucket itself was pretty straight-forward. I started with a “false bottom” of dry shredded cardboard.
(In case you are wondering – the inner walls of the bucket are green from algal growth. This bucket was sitting outside with rain water in it for quite some time)
I then added a layer of food waste that had recently been removed from the freezer. This was covered by another thin layer of bedding.
It just so happened that I had a very small bin, containing mostly Euros, on the go in my basement. I figured I would simply transfer everything from it over to my bucket.
I think Euros could do very well in a bucket system, so that was definitely part of my rationale. There were relatively few worms in the small bin (likely fewer than 30 adults), so it should make for an interesting population growth experiment as well.
Once the wormy material was dumped in, I added one final layer of bedding before securing the long john over top. As an added precaution I sealed up the leg tube with an elastic band
I will likely leave the system to sit for a week or so before adding any more food. As touched on, there really aren’t very many worms in there, so the food already added should be more than enough for the time being.